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  • Written by World and Media

Irish Senate debates infanticide, gendercide, China and India

Leinster House. Photo: Flickr/Carlos el hormigo.As far back as 1990, future Nobel prizewinner, economist Amartya Sen wrote in the New York Review of Books that "a great many more than 100 million women are 'missing' due to inequality and neglect. He described it as "clearly one of the more momentous, and neglected, problems facing the world today."

Yet, two decades later, the problem persists. The World Bank recently reported that nearly 4 million women under 60 and girls still go "missing" each year due to pre-birth discrimination (95% in China and India) or excess mortality after birth (mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa, India and China). In total, over two million women and girls go missing in India and China every year.

The issue was debated in the Irish Senate on October 26. A motion (below) condemning "gendercide" - a term previously used by The Economist and others - was put by independent Senator Rónán Mullen, which called for pressure to be put on China and India, in particular.

A shorter amended motion (below) was put by Senator Ivana Bacik of Labour. It condemned "female infanticide and all other violations of the rights of women and girls" although it did not name any country nor refer to selective abortion or gendercide.

  • Written by World and Media

Ireland: coalition partners compromise on climate change, aid

Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny and Labour leader, Eamon Gilmore. Original photos: Flickr/infomatique.Following the February general election, Ireland's Fine Gael and Labour parties agreed Sunday (March 7) to form a "Government for National Recovery". They have published their Programme for Government.

The joint document prioritises the "economic emergency" facing the country but it also contains a number of significant policies on climate change and international development. Many of these are compromises on their manifesto positions, while a number of pledges were simply left out. Both parties were under pressure to rapidly conclude an agreement.

The 2011-2016 Fine Gael-Labour Programme for Government*

Policies that survived mostly intact in the Programme from Fine Gael (FG) or Labour (L) manifestoes

Humanitarian and development assistance

  • FG: will create a single humanitarian crises appeals mechanism for NGO fundraising and public response.  
  • L: will position Ireland, in particular Shannon airport, to become an international hub for the storage and distribution of emergency humanitarian supplies.
  • FG: will establish an Irish Civilian Corps to assist developing countries.  
  • L: will initiate a detailed legal review of the basis, structures and governance of the Red Cross in Ireland to improve its functioning.
  • Written by World and Media

Ireland: Fine Gael and Labour differ on climate change, aid and Irish troops

Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny and Labour leader, Eamon Gilmore. Original photos: Flickr/infomatique.Fine Gael and Labour may clash over climate change, aid legislation and the 'triple lock'. The two parties are in discussions over a draft programme for government, should they decide to form a governing coalition.

The parties won 113 of 166 seats, making them the two largest parties. Both made substantial manifesto promises in a range of policy areas that will now compete to make it into the draft programme. Fine Gael took about twice as many seats as Labour so will be expecting to see more of its policies included should agreement be reached.

In their manifestos, both parties gave prominence to international concerns other than the fate of foreign creditors, such as pledges on international development and climate change. These now provide a guide to the likely composition of any joint programme.

Both parties have made innovative proposals but there are areas of disagreement: Labour seeks Official Development Assistance (ODA) legislation and Climate Change legislation without seeking all-party support, while Fine Gael seeks to remove Ireland's 'triple lock' to facilitate faster emergency relief.

  • Written by World and Media

Irish general election: parties split over international and climate priorities

Sign for a polling station. The Irish general election on Friday 25th February will determine which parties will be held to their manifesto promises. Photo: Auntie P/Flickr.Is all politics local? With a general election looming on February 25th, Irish political parties appear as split on this issue as on many others, with some giving much more prominence to international concerns other than the fate of foreign creditors.

Given Ireland's financial predicament, one might expect the domestic economy to dominate party manifestoes published in advance of the 2011 election.

Yet, Fine Gael, Labour and the Green Party have all included international development as well as climate change pledges in their manifestoes.

Some specific policies and wording in their plans appears to have been in response to demands made by Irish development organisations.

  • Written by World and Media

ICG warns of Armenia-Azerbaijan war but is accused of bias

A 106-year-old woman sits in front of her home guarding it with a rifle, in Degh village, near Goris, Armenia. Armed conflicts took place in and around nearby Nagarno-Karabakh, a territory in Azerbaijan also claimed by Armenia. UN Photo/Armineh Johannes. risk is increasing that war will reignite between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh due to "escalating front-line clashes, a spiralling arms race, vitriolic rhetoric and a virtual breakdown in peace talks", warns the Intenational Crisis Group (ICG).

Armenia and Azerbaijan: Preventing War was released on February 8th. According to the ICG, it "highlights the deterioration of the situation in the past year. Increased military capabilities on both sides would make a new armed conflict in the South Caucasus far more deadly than the 1992-1994 one that ended with a shaky truce. Neither side would be likely to win easily or quickly. Even if neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan is planning an immediate all-out offensive, skirmishes could easily spiral out of control."

However, the report was critised in both countries. Eduard Sharmazanov, Secretary of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) faction*, accused the ICG of bias. Whereas Azerbaijani Defence Ministry spokesman, Eldar Sabiroglu said the report failed to be objective.

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