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In brief

News of the week

von Wolf Dagmar

In Kürze

Unfair distribution of global wealth / Assessing biodiversity / ILO expects worsening unemployment / African governments want UN mandate to fight Boko Haram / Malawi’s unprecedented flood / Pope’s impression of Philippines distorted

Richest one percent will soon own more than half of global wealth

If recent trends continue, the richest one percent of humankind will own more than 50 % of global wealth by 2016, according to research commissioned by Oxfam. The charity published the data shortly ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Inequality, Oxfam argues, is hampering economic development and undermining democracy. According to Oxfam statistics, the richest one percent owned 44 % of global wealth in 2008, and its share rose to 48 % last year. Adult members of this global elite were said to have an average wealth of  $2.7 million in 2014. Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam’s executive director, is co-chairing the ongoing meeting of business leaders and politicians in Davos this year. She pledged to use that position to promote policies that ease inequality.



Assessing the state of biodiversity

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Eco-System Services (IPBES) now has 123 member countries. Its mission is to serve a similar function in the context of the UN Convention on Biodiversity as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change does in the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. A multilateral meeting in Bonn that ended on Saturday has set the IPBES agenda for the next few years. One of the top topics to be researched is the pollination of plants. The issue is urgent in view of dwindling honey-bee populations in many countries. Experts reckon that the use of pesticides is an important reason for this dangerous trend. The IPBES is likely to run into political controversies similar to those experienced by the IPCC if it spells out the causes of environmental degradation in correct and unmistakable scientific terms, the German newspaper taz expects.


Lasting impact of global financial crisis

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the world economy is growing “at rates well below the trends that preceded the advent of the global crisis in 2008”. The international agency’s most recent World Employment and Social Outlook finds that it is a huge challenge to bring “unemployment and underemployment back to pre-crisis levels”.  The authors expect the employment situation to get worse in the next five years, with global unemployment growing by 3 million this year and by another 8 million next year. According to the ILO, 201 million people were unemployed in 2014 – 18 % more than before the crisis.



African governments want UN mandate to fight Boko Haram

According to Mohamed Bazoum, Niger’s foreign minister, the African Union will ask the UN Security Council to authorise military action for a multinational force to fight the Islamist militia Boko Haram. Bazoum made this announcement after a meeting with leaders from neighbouring countries in Niger’s capital Niamey. Boko Haram atrocities have plagued neighbouring Nigeria for years, and the militants have lately also staged in attacks in Cameroon. Mistrust among the region’s governments, however, had stalled multilateral action recently. After deciding to pool military capacities in the fight against Boko Haram in November, governments failed to commit troops accordingly. According to Bazoum, this time is different.

In the meantime, Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said her office is gathering information on mass-killings in north-eastern Nigeria. She stated: “Crimes committed by members of any of the parties to the armed conflict in Nigeria must be thoroughly and impartially investigated and prosecuted.”


Malawi’s flood disaster

Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar are suffering floods due to heavy rains. Malawi is affected worst. President Peter Mutharika has declared more than half of the country’s districts disaster zones. His government says it needs support worth more than $ 65 million to reach out to flood victims. According to Robert Kisyula of World Vision, an international non-governmental organisation, the situation is unprecedented, with thousands of people now staying in provisional camps, some of which were cut off from roads.


Pope’s impression of Philippines distorted

About 6 million people attended an outdoor mass held by Pope Francis in Manila on Sunday, according to the Vatican. The pontiff said that there was too much poverty, ignorance and corruption in the Philippines. After the pope had left, civil-society activists accused authorities of manipulating his impression of the Philippines, and the government was forced to admit that many homeless people, who normally live on Manila streets, were accommodated in hotels during his visit.


These items were compiled by Hans Dembowski on the basis of international media coverage.


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