THE WORLD RECEIVED some very good news in September. The percentage of the global population living in extreme poverty has dropped from 36 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2015, the lowest in recorded history. Over this period more than 1 billion people lifted themselves out of the quicksand of extreme poverty.
The Millennium Development Goals, agreed to through the United Nations in 2000, helped galvanize global leadership to cut extreme poverty in half in 15 years, a goal that was achieved a few years early due to remarkable progress in China and India. About half of the world’s countries have reduced extreme poverty below 3 percent.
In 2016, the MDGs were replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs represent a more integrated and comprehensive global agenda centered around 17 goals and 169 targets that now apply to every country in the world, not only to developing countries. They combine a commitment to end extreme poverty by the year 2030—especially in countries across sub-Saharan Africa and fragile conflict-affected states where progress has been uneven—with commitments to protect the environment, address climate change, combat inequality, promote peace, and improve governance.
"The fact that you have people coming from countries experiencing violence and might be subject to persecution by gangs and other criminal violence, would certainly ... give them the right to receive international protection," Spindler said.
A crowd of thousands of angry, shouting protesters gathered as his body, covered by a sheet, was carried on a makeshift stretcher along dirt streets to the presidential palace, a Reuters witness said.
"Nuclear weapons must be banned," Francis said, quoting a document issued by Pope John XXIII at the height of the Cold War and adding that there is "no denying that the conflagration could be started by some chance and unforeseen circumstance".
Since the U.N. mission in Congo launched in 1999, almost 300 peacekeepers have been killed, with the presence of rebel groups becoming commonplace.
“THIS WILL BE A historic moment,” announced Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez on July 6, the day before 122 countries adopted the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a legally binding agreement to outlaw nuclear weapons—and a major step toward their complete elimination. (Sixty-nine nations refused to vote, including all the nuclear weapon states and all NATO members except the Netherlands.)
“I have been waiting for this day for seven decades, and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived,” said Setsu-ko Thurlow, a renowned antinuclear activist and survivor of the U.S. nuclear weapon dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.
Parties to the treaty are prohibited from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, possessing, or stock-piling nuclear weapons. The treaty also creates, for the first time, obligations to support the victims of nuclear weapons use and testing, as well as remediation of environmental damage caused by nuclear weapons.
Jakarta's Christian governor has been sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy, a harsher-than-expected ruling critics fear will embolden hardline Islamist forces to challenge secularism in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. The April 9 guilty verdict for Basuki Tjahaja Purnama comes amid concern about the growing influence of Islamist groups, who organized mass rallies during a tumultuous election campaign that ended with Purnama losing his bid for another term as governor.
During our nearly 40 years of friendship, I led several interreligious missions with Keeler, including meetings with then-Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. We co-led trips to Israel, including a visit to a civilian bomb shelter, and a poignant painful pilgrimage to the infamous death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Sometimes public figures can seem distant and impersonal, but that was never the case with the always gracious and welcoming Keeler.
The drought in the Sahel — a region that forms a dry belt across northern Africa — has left millions without any water to drink, and is being linked to three deaths in recent days in Kenya, due to consumption of unsafe water.
“There are no drops to reduce, recycle, or reuse,” said professor Jesse Mugambi, of the University of Nairobi, who added that many in the region are spending World Water Day “praying for drops of rain to quench their thirst and that of their livestock.”
A decade ago, a critic accused me of writing a book about a “nonexistent” threat from the religious right. One reviewer called my work a “paranoid rant,” while another detractor wrote my “alarmist” views were “exaggerated and implausible.”
In The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right’s Plans For The Rest Of Us, published in 2006, I had warned that a well-financed and highly organized group of religious and political leaders was seeking to impose their narrow extremist beliefs and harsh public policies on the United States, even as our nation’s population was increasingly multireligious, multiethnic, and multiracial.
Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will be a rare woman on Donald Trump’s Cabinet-level team, and one of the few persons of color.
Knowing little about her foreign policy positions, given that she has little to no international experience, what should we expect from Haley once she is confirmed to be ambassador to the United Nations?
On Jan. 11 the Senate confirmation hearing for former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, for the office of Secretary of State, began, reports NPR. In his hearing Tillerson admitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he has yet to discuss with President-Elect Trump U.S. foreign policy as it regards to Russia.
He also made a statement that seemed in partial opposition to the use of sanctions against Russia and other countries, stating that they “are going to harm American businesses.” However, he relented to the idea that sanctions have the ability to be a “powerful and important tool.”
On Dec. 19 the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to send UN observers to Aleppo to oversee the evacuation of civilians, reports Al Jazeera. UN observers will travel soon to Aleppo as will personnel who can administer aid.
“For the first time in numerous attempts to get unanimity on the situation on Aleppo, all of the 15 UN Security Council members have supported this resolution to send UN monitors in Aleppo,” said journalist Mike Hanna.
Brazilian Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, one of the most important figures in modern Brazil, died on Dec. 14 in Sao Paulo. He was 95.
Known as Dom Paulo, he was appointed bishop in 1966 and served as archbishop of the Sao Paulo Archdiocese from 1970 to 1998. But he was better known as the “people’s bishop,” and embodied the progressive church movement in South America.
On Dec. 14 buses that were meant to evacuate citizens and rebel fighters out of Aleppo, Syria, after a raid and massacre by the Syrian government, left — empty, reports the New York Times. Gunfire has been heard by people who are still in the city, and it is believed that a ceasefire established on Dec. 13 — between the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and rebel fighters — has dissolved.
Religion reporting doesn’t usually put a journalist in harm’s way. We spend much of our time in church pews and at interfaith singalongs. But a few days earlier, Religion News Service had been offered a chance to go with Samaritan’s Purse relief workers as they distributed aid in Haiti to victims of Hurricane Matthew.
The United Nations human rights office has called on French beach resorts to lift their bans on the burkini, calling them a “stupid reaction” that did not improve security but fueled religious intolerance.
France’s highest administrative court last Friday suspended one seaside town’s ban on the full-body swimsuit sometimes worn by Muslim women, on the grounds it violated fundamental liberties.
According to the United Nations’ refugee agency, up to 500 refugees may have drowned last week when an overcrowded ship sank, reports CNN. The 41 survivors of “one of the worst tragedies involving refugees and migrants in the last 12 months” are currently being housed at a stadium in Kalamata, Greece.
On the first day the Palestinian flag was raised at the United Nations, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority declared his intent to break agreements with Israel, including the 1995 Oslo Peace Accords, which proposed a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, The New York Times reports.
“We cannot continue to be bound by these signed agreements with Israel and Israel must assume fully all its responsibility as an occupying power,” said Abbas.
Despite Abbas’ strong words, it is unclear what practical consequences will follow.
One hundred years ago — April 1915 — as World War I raged across Europe, the government of the Ottoman Empire attacked its Armenian citizens. Over the next several years, it is estimated that as many as 1.5 million Armenians died. Able-bodied men were murdered or enslaved as forced labor in the army, and hundreds of thousands of women, children, the infirm, and the elderly were marched into the Syrian desert to face death.
Supported by the Young Turks, an ultranationalist party that approved systematic deportation, abduction, torture, massacre, and the expropriation of Armenian wealth, the German-allied Ottoman government used the excuse of war to initiate the forcible removal of Armenians from Armenia and Anatolia where they had lived for centuries.
The targeting and mass murder of Armenians has been termed a genocide.
Although racial, ethnic, and religious wars have killed millions over the centuries, genocide is a unique byproduct of the 20th century. It requires both a rabid nationalism and the capacity of a central authority to organize and implement a sustained and systematic program of targeted mass destruction. Not until the 20th century had governments the necessary technologies, resources, and means to ally their historical ethnic, religious, or racist hatreds with radical nationalism to end the collective existence of a people.
The Armenian genocide was recognized and deplored around the world, even as modern Turkey resists the “genocide” label. American diplomats, Russians, Arabs, and German officers stationed in Ottoman lands witnessed the slaughter and alerted the wider world. In May 1915, Great Britain, France, and Russia vowed to hold the Turks personally responsible for their crimes. Relief efforts to save the “starving Armenians” were widespread.