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The referendum in South Sudan: Miracle or mirage?

Posted by Georges Tsaï on 13 January 2011

Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, several hundred Chinese (even thousands?), and … George Clooney decided to start the new year in South Sudan, a region that is not known for its tourist appeal.

They were there for a good cause: to ensure the referendum on the independence of South Sudan would take place smoothly. The referendum is the result of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended one of the deadliest conflicts within the past 50 years.

Ominous farce or virtuous ending?

The referendum, which began Sunday and ends next Sunday, embodies great hopes for a peaceful and lasting resolution to a conflict that has pitted northern Sudan against southern Sudan for nearly 40 years.

A brief overview of notable highlights:

• In 1955 (even before Sudan’s independence, proclaimed in 1956) the first civil war broke out between the mainly Muslim North and the South, home to a predominantly animist and Christian population. This war, which lasted until 1972, resulted in 500,000 dead and involuntarily displaced one million refugees.

Between 1972 and 1983, through the mediation of Emperor Haile Selassie, Sudan experienced a period of relative peace.

• 1978: the Chevron company discovered oil deposits in the South.

The civil war resumed in 1983. This second conflict, which would cost two million lives and involuntary displace four million refugees, would cease in 2005, following the signing of the CPA, which established a federal system and which provided, amongst other things, for a referendum on the independence of South Sudan to be held before the end of January 2011.

January 9, 2011: quashing the pessimistic predictions of many observers, the referendum is unfolding in a relative calm. There is apparently no improper management of the referendum process.

Ominous farce that will end badly or virtuous ending to one of the bloodiest conflicts of the second half of the 20th century? The question remains to be answered. Let us try to analyze the chances of success and risks of failure of this undertaking.

Morality and realpolitik

Let us start with the factors that could justify a certain optimism. First, the international community’s driving forces appear to be truly mobilized. Since the signing of the CPA, the United States has played a significant role to ensure the agreement is effectively implemented. George W. Bush had worked hard so that Washington would work in this vein. The fact that several Christian movements support the independence of the South certainly influenced his interest in the issue. More generally, the international community has not fully recovered from its inaction in Rwanda and is still suffering from a guilty conscience. It is therefore determined to avoid another humanitarian tragedy, for truly moral reasons.

Then there is a good dose of realpolitik prompting many players to want a happy ending. Oil, of course, plays an important role and requires a collaborative approach between the South, with most of the country’s oil fields, and the North, with the infrastructures capable of transporting and exporting the precious liquid. As for President Omar el-Bashir, he has all of a sudden turned into an informed statesman, concerned about respecting the will of the people of the South. The sanctions imposed on Sudan and the arrest warrant issued by the ICC against the President have perhaps something to do with this remarkable conversion. It is a safe bet that his visit to Juba a few days before the referendum, to make a speech worthy of a confirmed democrat, was not a wholly gratuitous act.

Continuing threats

There is still much to do and what started so well last Sunday could easily turn into a nightmare. In particular, there are three vulnerable factors that both North and South Sudanese, as well as the international community should watch closely:

1. First, the results of the referendum. To be accepted by all, three conditions are required: voting that is free of manipulation and violence, a high percentage of votes in favor of either option, and a substantial turnout. The last is expected to far exceed the 60% threshold set by al-Bashir as the absolute minimum to validate Referendum results. Regarding the percentage of “yes” votes, the more the better. For example, Slovenia in 1990, Croatia in 1991, and Eritrea in 1993, achieved independence with respectively 95%, 93%, and 99.8% of favorable votes. However, a result resembling that of Quebec: a small margin between the “yes” and “no” would create a difficult situation that could be potentially explosive. Sixty percent of the votes seems to be a minimum to justify the dismantling of an existing country.

2. Then, there is the question of the border between North and South. This must be determined accurately. The task has been made even more vital due to the presence of rich oil deposits in the border region. This issue, if not properly handled, could soon be the source of renewed violent conflict. The well-known case of the disputed border between the two Koreas and the much less known border dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica illustrate, if necessary, the importance of this issue.

3. Finally, the exact terms of the economic cooperation between the two countries, particularly in terms of sharing oil revenues, will greatly influence how the situation will play out. This will be further aggravated by the addition of the virtually inextricable issues of the Abyei region. This northern enclave also has a referendum pending to decide whether it will finally be tied to the North or the South. The region, though small, also contains rich oil deposits. Complications related to the question of who would be entitled to vote led to an indefinite postponement of the referendum. This means that the North and South will need to undertake delicate negotiations to decide the fate of this region.

South Sudan, a state on borrowed time?

The world (or at least a handful of observers) is holding its breath. Those who designed and signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement have shown wisdom, vision, and courage. Will their gamble pay off? Or will the new country be yet another state on borrowed time? One can only hope that South Sudan succeeds and the CPA, an admirable document, will be used as a model for resolving ethnic, religious and linguistic conflicts that continue to be formidable challenges.

A situation to watch for in the weeks, months and years ahead.

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A very happy New Year to all, including all of the forests of the world….

Posted by Tristan Lecomte on 5 January 2011

The United Nations have declared 2011 the International Year of Forests, which we at the Fondation warmly welcome. The fight against deforestation and support of sustainable harvest of timber are amongst the Fondation’s primary objectives, particularly because we are conscience of the direct link that exists between forest preservation and the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.

The future of these populations is intimately linked to their ecosystems, on which they are dependent for survival. Preserving their forest, allows them to continue to live their traditional lifestyle, to meet their needs by sustainably using the resources of their forest, and as well as preserving their culture and language, the forest protects them from the frenetic evolution of today’s world.

The deforestation of a zone inhabited by an indigenous population is all too often synonymous with the forced entry into the Western and globalized world and the loss of orientation for fragile populations. Here we are measuring a very important aspect of the strong interdependence that exists between the forest and human development.

The forest is more than just a bunch of trees and vegetation to be admired while strolling through the countryside. The forest is an immense sanctuary of biodiversity, it is the most important reserve of fresh water in the world, the best way to preserve our soils from erosion, to maintain high soil quality and thus to reap successful harvests and to preserve our climate.

100 square meters destroyed every second

The forest is the lung of the planet, a lung that is in a pitiful state and that we continue to destroy at the rate of 100 square meters every second…

We really hope that this year, 2011, is the starting point for a greater awareness on the importance of the forest and its multiple interdependencies with human development. To all, we wish you a wonderful year in 2011…. in the forest!!!

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Armed violence in non-conflict situations

Posted by Fondation Chirac on 17 December 2010

Recently the Fondation Chirac attended day long conference dedicated to armed violence: here are some of the points that were raised on the challenges of dealing with this issue. It is not an exhaustive analysis of the situation but hopefully will inspire some further reflections.

“Armed violence—both in crime and in conflict—claims an estimated 740,000 lives each year. The vast majority of these deaths (540,000) result from direct experience of violence. Nearly two-thirds (490,000) occur in non-conflict situations.” Small Arms Survey, 2010

Despite these high numbers, these deaths are often overlooked.

What to call it and how to define it:

It is difficult to define or categorize armed violence that takes place in non-conflict situations. Depending on the definition used, there are between 2 and 10 million people involved in gangs or armed groups in the world. Due to this lack of common definition, there is no existing international legal framework to help reduce it. For example, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), it falls into the “other situations” category. This difficulty in categorizing armed violence also means that little research is devoted to this area and thus even less time and money to its reduction.

Each case is distinct. Today words like “terrorist” and “vigilante” are used so frequently that one could almost believe that all “terrorist” groups came about in the same way and are motivated by the same reasons. Therefore, as much as possible, labels should not be used; instead the social, economic and political processes behind each militant group need to be examined.

There are different legal categories of armed violence: internal armed conflict, international armed conflict, both referring to a state of bellicose involving the State military. Lastly there are “other situations” that the (ICRC), has identified and divided up as follows: coups d’état, violence linked with maintaining public order, intercommunity violence, territorial gang violence and violence linked to transnational organizations.

While it is possible to create categories to describe the different types of armed violence, a group or a person rarely fits into just one category – creating a “hybrid” – or basically a new category that needs its own definition depending on the situation.

Underlying causes of armed violence:

While the causes are many and obviously differ on a case-by-case basis, for many experts the apparition of armed groups is a response to a lack of state presence. There’s a gap that needs to be filled and new actors step up to the plate.

In the case of urban violence, rapid urbanization is often blamed. While this may be part of the issue, it is particularly the absence of social and spatial networks that lends itself well to the creation of gangs.

Reducing the phenomenon:

Experts and governments are beginning to recognize that armed violence can no longer be dealt with through military action alone. Militaries are often given the mission of reducing armed violence because they are highly trained in dealing with external crises, and they can be quickly mobilized. But dealing with armed violence in non-conflict situations is a question of security, economic and social development, and governance and therefore involves a multiplicity of actors.

The World Health Organization takes the public health approach, which aims to prevent violence before it occurs, and is based on an ecological model, that reaches out to the individual, the family, the community, and the societal levels all at the same time. This system is not very well developed for the time being and requires a long-term commitment of 3 to 5 years.

Another important element in combating armed violence, is reconstructing the “illegitimacy of violence”. Studies have repeatedly shown that youth that have either witnessed or been victims of violence are the most likely perpetrators. For many, violence has become the norm – this cycle needs to be broken so that violence becomes, once again, an illigitmate reaction.

To sum up the day, each case is different, should be studied individually and called by its own name, and each solution needs to be individually tailored. The next step – how to mobilize the international community to fight against something that is still so difficult to grasp.

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The two Koreas: a broken home on the brink

Posted by Georges Tsaï on 8 December 2010

A regime isolated from the rest of the world

Korea (both North and South) along with Iceland, are rare examples of largely homogenous countries, ethnically and linguistically. Yet the vagaries of history have led to a hopeless, ideological divide between both Koreas for almost 60 years. The Pyongyang regime has isolated itself from the rest of the world, with the exception of China that continues to support it though with increasing distance.

Who will waver first – North or South Korea? To explain the most recent behavior of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, analysts vacillate between a purely political explanation (Kim Jong-il wants to ensure the arrival in power of his son Kim Jong-un) and a psychological explanation (North Korea, as would a misunderstood teenager, is desperately trying to direct the attention of the adults around him to his frustrations and anxieties). Without completely ruling out the former, the latter seems the most plausible. It may also offer a key to breaking the dangerous deadlock in which both Koreas have found themselves.

A change of mood for South Korea?

Many South Koreans have sought to overcome this situation through dialogue and reconciliation, and it would be fallacious to suggest such efforts have not yielded positive results. Between 2000 and 2009, the famous Sunshine Policy implemented by the late President Kim Dae-jung (Nobel Peace Prize 2000) and his Unification Minister and the current President of Kyungnam University, Park Jae Kyu (Special Jury Prize for Conflict Prevention by the Foundation Chirac 2009), and actively pursued by the late President Roh Moo-hyun, the predecessor of the current President Lee Myung-bak, offered the Korean peninsula a period of relative calm that implied the possibility for greater cooperation between North and South, and perhaps even, ultimately, a form of unification that would be flexible enough to reassure everyone.

It is, I think, fair to say that this reconciliation policy has been, until very recently, supported by a large portion of South Koreans. During a three-week stay in South Korea last spring, after the Cheonan incident, I saw to what extent South Koreans remained committed, despite the crisis caused by the sinking of the warship, to maintaining dialogue between the North and the South. They have maintained an exemplary attitude, made up of patience and conciliation, towards their northern neighbors. One can therefore understand the signs of irritation given off by Seoul for the past few days. However, allowing this capital of goodwill evaporate in the wake of the bombing of the island of Yeonpyeong, and giving way to feelings of revenge – however legitimate they may be – could have tragic consequences.

Do not impose demands

It will not be easy to end the deadlock, as both sides are apparently irreconcilable. Seoul’s position (it might be more accurate to say that of Washington) which demands denuclearization first and only after will there be normalization. Whereas Pyongyang wants normalization first and then denuclearization. This game of “chicken” or “my demands first but not yours” would seem childish if the risks were not so great.

So, can we imagine a widely respected politician, active or retired, coming from a country that is not involved in the six-party talks – currently on hold – capable of convincing both parties to agree to a simultaneous denuclearization and normalization? Is it realistic to believe that the big stick policy with naval maneuvers and the whole shebang will comply to the expectations of the United States and South Korea? For the policy to be effective, they must be ready to use the stick at the next outburst of the family’s black sheep or lose all credibility. Is it so hard to reassure the turbulent and provocative teenager that is North Korea that it really belongs to a family rather than to the axis of evil?

The Korea Times, published in Seoul, notes, with fundamentally Asian wisdom, that Koreans should not allow ideological differences of the past 60 years destroy 5000 years of a national identity that is shared by all Koreans. We can not agree more.

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Sustainable development and respect for diversity are intimately linked

Posted by Tristan Lecomte on 8 December 2010

The Foundation has, from the start, stated that defending peace and promoting the sustainable development of our planet, necessarily entails respect for the diversity of cultures and more generally all forms of life. President Chirac is passionate about the cause of the First Peoples and has always encouraged dialogue between cultures as the very foundation for peace and the guarantee of a more harmonious, durable, richer development.

Given the hegemony of a dominant ideology and the market system that standardizes tastes and broader societal choices, we must offer solutions that are by definition different and complementary. We can not solve the current economic, social, and cultural crisis with a single model, but rather by working through the combination and complementarity of different visions. This is a feature of the sustainable development movement, it is inherently tied to natural Biodiversity but it is also by nature tied to a Biodiversity of approaches and solutions.

We cannot leave oil behind unless we combine all sources of renewable energy, unless we adjust the current neoliberal model by adapting it to the social and environmental constraints of each country or continent, unless we change the world by ceasing to create blocks and conflicts between civilizations.

Each individual must create a personal life model

This vision directly echoes President Chirac’s decision not to intervene during the second Iraq war, and in so doing, ending the binary and hegemonic vision held by the United States at the time.

Respect for each and everyone’s diverse point of view, for their participation in harmoniously changing the world, all the while allowing each his or her freedom; this is a message that offers particular depth to the concept of Sustainable Development. The theme is approached here in terms of subsidiarity. Each individual must create a personal life model, more in harmony with himself and the Planet. This would replace the current model, often based on a dominant ideology that impoverishes the world and leads into a dead-end.

One of the Fondation’s most powerful messages is that it is up to each of us to observe and participate in these multiple visions that enrich our daily lives and help build our future World.

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Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.

Posted by Michel Sidibé on 1 December 2010

On this World AIDS Day we can be proud.

Globally we have reduced the number of new HIV infections and deaths by nearly 20%.

This means less people are becoming infected with HIV and less people are dying from AIDS.

56 countries have either stabilized or significantly reduced the rate of new HIV infections.

For the first time, we have broken the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic and reached the first part of the Millennium Development Goal for HIV.

We have achieved this amazing milestone because families, communities, governments— and UNAIDS have united the world in an unprecedented movement.

We are prevailing…with political commitment, leadership from all sectors including leaders of faith…with science, with evidence, with human rights, and passion.

On this World AIDS Day we can remember.

Our successes have not come without sacrifice. Today we mourn friends and family— some 30 million people who have lost their lives to AIDS.

An estimated 10 million people are waiting for treatment.

We must remember that punitive laws and stigma still hurt too many people around the world.

On this World AIDS Day we can commit.

Our hard-won gains are fragile—so our commitment to the AIDS response must remain strong.

AIDS is a proven investment and must be a shared responsibility today and tomorrow.

On this World AIDS Day we can be hopeful.

With your commitment and that of UNAIDS and the UN family, we are changing the course of the AIDS epidemic. I have called for the virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission by 2015. Nothing gives me more hope than knowing that an AIDS free generation is possible in our lifetime. So on this World AIDS Day, take action today—together we can reach Zero new infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths!

Michel Sidibé

Executive Director of UNAIDS and

Under Secretary-General of the United Nations

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The right to water, and after?

Posted by Jean-Michel Severino on 20 October 2010

The United Nations has just made an important political and symbolic breakthrough by integrating the right to water into individual human rights. A critical universal demand has finally been recognized and with this, a milestone has been reached with the consecration of one of the Millenium Development Goals.

Everyone however is aware that the most significant efforts still lie ahead. The real goal our planet must establish is universal access to quality water. Achieving this will help improve overall health (waterborne diseases remain the leading cause of death in poor countries), thereby helping with demographic control, the reduction of social tensions and even open conflicts. This is visible in many parts of the world affected by water stress and competition for access to water between communities. Economic growth also depends on universal access. Investing in water means investing in Keynesian mechanisms for growth, it means freeing productivity, providing access to schooling, particularly for girls…

The road to this goal contains a gigantic investment deficit. Fixing it requires providing specific answers to the question of funding. Both the report prepared under the direction of Michel Camdessus and the recent OECD report presented at World Water Forum in Istanbul have demonstrated that for such a subject, we must base ourselves on three axes: adequate tariffs for management and investment agencies, solidarity transfers among users, and finally grants because it seems unlikely that water can fully fund water. We have not done so in Western Europe, and it will not happen in the rest of the world. The only reason for this is the externalities to access to water, as economists say, for financial reasons, legitimize and even demand that the entire economy participate in such an investment via tax contributions.

In the globalized world in which we live, subsidies must be approached as a globally managed entity that comprises North-South transfers, inspired not by charity but rather by the awareness that we share a common space in which we influence one another. Take the case of Africa. Maintaining a growth rate above 6% per year, which would progressively provide for universal access to water would require over 100 billion Euros per year in investments. We are currently only roughly half way there. These investments are closely linked to energy, because water requires large quantities of energy and dams have multiple uses. Given the meagre taxes levied in the least developed of African countries coupled with their low debt capacity, it is impossible to achieve such levels of investment in the next ten years without significant financial contributions from abroad, much of it in grants. These investments require a marked improvement in the design and implementation of local water policies, including socially just and financially realistic tariff policies. A common effort must therefore be undertaken.

The next World Water Forum, to be held in Marseille in March 2012, should focus on allowing this effort to intensify until it reaches the required level to make the right to water a reality. This will be a unique opportunity to take action that France can promote. This should be an opportunity to free the financial bottleneck and link this topic to innovative financing. France is the driving force in the work group that steers the progression of this fundamental issue. As host of the Marseille forum, France has the opportunity to simultaneously accomplish two goals: to make sense of the summit’s political process, and thus of the entire meeting, as well as to offer a concrete subject to a discussion that until now has been abstract.

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Sustainable Forest Stewardship: The model approach of the Forest Trust

Posted by Tristan Lecomte on 20 October 2010

According to the WWR, 40 % of timber imported into France is illegal. The lack of information on the stakes of eco-certification explains this behavior. There is a powerful incentive to effectively fight against uncontrolled deforestation throughout the World. The Forest Trust (TFT) is a respected non-governmental organization working in the field and a valued partner of the Fondation Chirac in its program to “Fight Deforestation and Desertification”.

The originality of the TFT is to tackle the problem of deforestation using a global approach to the domain. What is the use of raising consumer awareness about buying sustainably managed timber if the channels are not established and properly controlled beforehand? How can the logging industry be encouraged to undertake better practices without technical assistance and without incentives from subsequent markets?

Thus, the TFT works from one end to the other of the timber chain in order to ensure proper management. By bettering conditions for planting, logging, and the sales of timber we switch from a situation in which deforestation worsens global warming and increasingly pauperizes populations (they benefit very marginally from profits of the illegal sale of timber) to a virtuous situation in which forests are responsibly managed, in which their capacity to stock CO2 is accrued, and in which the value of the entire sector increases for the benefit of all.

Les étudiants de la promotion Moabi sur un chantier d’exploitation forestièreThis is the driving spirit behind the Centre for Social Excellence for the sustainable stewardship of forests in Cameroon, financed by the Fondation Chirac. This center is associated with a logging concession of 365 000 hectares that obtained an FSC certificate guaranteeing the sustainable management of its activities, a first in Africa. Their practices take into account the rights and lifestyles of local communities who are directly implicated, most notably by way of a community radio. The goal of the center is to expand the project to 7 million hectares by involving and training over a dozen local logging companies in sustainable forest stewardship.

The TFT is following the same approach in a number of countries. One of these is Laos where we had a chance to better grasp the added value of TFT on the field. The TFT is training communities and logging companies to optimize the planting and cutting of trees as well as in the sustainable management of timber. They also reinforce the ties and traceability with environmentally concerned buyers in our countries.

The forest is not an obstacle to development in developing countries

Together, the Fondation Chirac and the TFT strengthen these ties all the way to architects in France, the primary purchasing advisors for timber used in construction, by offering innovative and exemplary training. The Fondation also supports this newest initiative, in keeping with its partner’s example of a holistic approach to the sector.

The TFT’s approach to the sector has many advantages, one of which is to show that respecting the environment through better forest stewardship one is also creates added value for economic entities and improved social impact for the poorest populations. The forest is not an obstacle to development in developing countries. On the contrary it is one of their most precious assets. We must render it even more attractive in order to better ensure the sustainable development of these countries.

Tristan Lecomte discovers the project at Luang PrabangBusinesses and consumers in wealthy countries are more and more concerned with the social and environmental conditions of the products they buy. This is a powerful incentive for operators at the beginning of the chain. The TFT and the Fondation Chirac have therefore naturally joined forces around these themes that demonstrate the interdependence of economic, social, and environmental issues. Their partnership intends to shed light on the challenges and encourage the development of virtuous practices throughout the timber industry. Perhaps one day, their efforts will extend to every consumer product.

This would be an excellent reminder that all of our purchases at home condition the factors of social and environmental peace in the most vulnerable countries from whence these products are issued. This is a starting point to rethink our relationship to consumerism and its impact on Humanity and the Environment.

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Justice, an obstacle to peace?

Posted by Georges Tsaï on 13 October 2010

Peace and Justice, two incompatible concepts?

Next January, if everything goes according to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Southern Sudan will hold an independence referendum.

Interested observers (there are not that many for, after all, the conflict between North and South Sudan resulted in only two million deaths between 1983 and 2005) are holding their breath. Will President Omar el Bashir respect the terms of the Agreement, or will he find an excuse to cancel or at least delay the referendum? Keep in mind that significant oil reserves are located in South Sudan. Many fear that such an event could result in renewed hostilities after five years of respite.

While the issue is important in and of itself, it is also coupled with an ethical dilemma that has become highly acute in recent years. Is it possible to negotiate or make peace with someone who is accused of committing crimes against humanity or genocide? Is it morally just to deal with someone who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity? The ICC decided in the end to drop the accusations of genocide.

For some (the realists?), peace is made as best we can and an imperfect peace from a moral point of view, but which offers expected results (no more death and suffering due to conflicts) is much better than demanding for a brand of justice that could heighten conflict.

For others (the idealists?), making peace without justice (by granting impunity to the guilty) is not only betraying the memory of victims but also running the risk of not appeasing one of the conflicting factions and entering into an endless spiral of violence, thus destroying the hopes of the realists.

Is this an irreconcilable dilemma?

Is each case singular?

Reality, as is often the case in human experience, is certainly much more complex than the dichotomy posited in the precedent paragraph. As Pierre Hazan so justly observed in an excellent book published recently (La paix contre la justice?, André Versaille – GRIP, 2010), history offers examples that support both sides (we need simply think of what has happened in South Africa, Latin America, and former Yugoslavia). These examples lead us to believe that it is important to be wary of dogmatic positions between peacemakers (or mediators) and proponents of a strict application of international laws. Only a precise analysis of each situation can dictate a course of action.

Of course, this analysis is complex. It must take into account both the perceived consequences and values embodied in international law based on human rights. Let’s return to Sudan in 2009, less than two years before the upcoming, crucial referendum for peace in the region. Was Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the ICC, justified in his indictment of Omar el-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity? I for one would be more inclined to give the Comprehensive Peace Agreement a chance to work its way through the process provided. There is always time enough to revise my analysis if Omar al-Bashir ever sought to cancel or torpedo (an incongruous image for a resolutely terrestrial conflict) the referendum.

What do you think?

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An End to Falsified Medicines

Posted by Dr. Aboubakrine Sarr on 13 October 2010

Medicines are an important factor in the management of the health of populations. The prescription and rational use of medicines ensure for patients a therapeutic outcome based primarily on the quality, effectiveness, and safety of the drugs themselves. In sum, results hinge on proper practices in terms of manufacturing, distribution, and dispensing. The effectiveness of medication depends on its traceability.

Nowadays, it is a truism to recognize the importance of counterfeit drugs commonly called falsified medicines. They represent roughly 10% of the world market; adding up to nearly 45 billion US dollars within a global pharmaceutical production that totals approximately 570 to 575 billion US Dollars. Predictions for 2020 foresee world production reaching a value of 1,200 to 1,300 billion US dollars. The tragic health, social, and economic consequences will certainly be considerable if we are not careful.

According to WHO, if counterfeit drugs in certain developed countries represent about 1% of their market, figures reach 30% in African markets (reaching as high as 50% of all available medicines in some countries).

Worse yet, in Africa, counterfeit medicines are likely to focus on products most in demand for the treatment of endemic diseases (malaria), chronic diseases (tuberculosis, diabetes, hypertension ….), and devastatingly lethal diseases (AIDS). For example, two thirds of all antimalarial drugs sold on the continent are falsified, for a disease that kills on average over one million people each year, 80% of them in Sub-Saharan Africa alone.

We must take into account that health policies, as are medicines, have always been a source of political competition worldwide, regardless of pharmaceutical or medical aspects. This principle is often used by industrialized countries to maintain their rank within the alliance of great nations. Nowadays, organizations (NGOs, IGOs,…) and institutions of defense and financing of human health such as the WHO, the Global Fund, the Fondation Chirac, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are mobilizing to improve access to safe medicines wherever they are lacking and in the exclusive interest of public health.

Moreover, the evolution and development of the pharmaceutical industry in emerging countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Thailand have also contributed significantly to overcoming the challenges of global production, geographical accessibility, and affordability of essential medicines. However, it would be a shame to allow counterfeit medicines to increase exponentially at the hands of mafia networks, which often take advantage of the vulnerability of countries or emergency regulations and decisions at the international level (compulsory licensing, the Doha declaration, parallel imports … .. ) to accomplish their dirty work.

To fight falsified medicines at all levels (networks, channels, trafficking, local markets…), we need to mobilize global resources, with the support of national and international political will.

Such political will must first be nourished by strong and coordinated commitments. Then it must be rendered concrete through consistently consensual legal provisions, and finally be complemented by sustainable actions that are supported by all.

Dr. Aboubakrine CARS

Chairman of Private Pharmacists’ Union of Senegal

Secretary General of the Inter-African Association of Pharmacists (Ispharma)

SG of the Permanent Secretariat of the Pharmaceutical Forum International (FPI)

Priorities in the fight against falsified medicines:

On the African continent, throughout regional and subregional institutions, such as the African Union, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), The Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa (UDEAC), the cornerstones and priorities of the fight are threefold:

➢ At the Legislative and Regulatory level:

1 / the development of coordinated laws and regulations to streamline litigation (through the use of different emergency procedures), to assess damage in relation to the harm caused to the licensee or patent holder, and to make provisions for more deterrent and coercive fines and prison sentences.

2 / the development of new offenses in the Customs Code penalizing the importation, exportation, trading, and transit of counterfeit goods and giving Customs full jurisdiction over suspected counterfeit products and the capacity to appeal directly to the Public Prosecutor.

3 / drawing up and/or updating within the Health Code of legal, regulatory, and disciplinary measures that are context-specific, coordinated, and valid in all member countries of the sub-regional or regional institution.

➢ At the communicative, informational and educational level:

1 / the development and creation of tools adapted to informing and raising awareness of the different target audiences (government, national and/or community institutions, opinion leaders, public health officials, and even counterfeiters)

2 / organizing seminars and workshops and/or strengthening the capacity of institutional enforcement authorities (customs, police…) in terms of detection, quality control, and traceability of medicines.

➢ At the health and socio-economic level:

1 / encouraging local production of essential medicines that are geographically and financially accessible.

2 / harmonizing international financial and technical support for the implementation of horizontal projects and programs according to the principles of the 2005 Paris Declaration.

3 / the adoption in the different regional and sub-regional areas of principles harmonized according to GMPs, GPDs and Pharmacovigilance (currently part of the WAEMU since July 2010 with the development of the GMP Guide).

4 / The creation of national committees in all the countries of the different regional and sub-regional areas. This would include pharmacists, but also the various State departments and services involved in tracking and enforcing laws against counterfeiters and sellers of falsified medicines.

The African pharmacist has a major role to play in this great undertaking, through his continuing education and that of his agents; through information and awareness campaigns for his patients/clients on the complexity of drug stability, as well as the dangers of consuming counterfeit medicines including those purchased in illicit channels and on the Internet; and finally through the advice he offers his patients.

We have benefited, as others, from technical and financial support to strengthen our capabilities particularly in the field of drug quality control at the Central Humanitaire Medico-Pharmaceutique of Clermont-Ferrand. Today, our priority is on this area of control along with pharmacovigilance in order to ensure the quality of the pharmaceutical care offered to our population.

This is the moment to encourage and congratulate institutions such as the Fondation Chirac and the Council of Europe, which, with the Cotonou Declaration and MEDICRIME have finished bravely establishing the basis for this global desire to fight the perpetrators of the genocide of fake medicines.

“Fear has changed sides.”

Together, with ethics, equity, solidarity, and justice as their sole weapons, the determination of just men will soon overcome the greed of the merchants of death.

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