The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has welcomed the decision of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to approve three FAO-led projects in five countries, totaling 18 million dollars in financing.
The three new projects, in Nigeria, Venezuela, and a regional initiative spanning Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda, will improve the management of protected areas, protect biodiversity in lowland forests, and build water security and resilience.
“Resilient and productive terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are the foundation for the sustainable transformation of agri-food systems,” said FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo. "The approval of these three projects strengthens our ability to help countries navigate a path of sustainability that leaves no one behind."
The biodiversity conservation project in Venezuela will address key barriers to the sustainable use of biodiversity in order to support the effective management of five existing Protected Areas in the Caroní river basin in the Guayana massif, one of the most virgin and biodiverse of the planet.
The regional project in Malawi, Mozambique and Uganda will bring sustainable groundwater management to the forefront of water security for resilient livelihoods, ecosystems and investments in Africa. It supports the African Water Ministers Council through its Pan-African Groundwater Programme.
The project in Nigeria will enhance the conservation, sustainable use and restoration of a lowland forest landscape to protect globally important biodiversity and strengthen the sustainable livelihoods of local communities. The project will improve the management of a highly threatened 1 million hectare landscape encompassing 12 forest reserves and the Okomu National Park. One of the goals is to replicate successes throughout Nigeria's lowland forest ecoregion.
The three projects, approved Tuesday at the 62nd GEF Council Meeting, held in McLean, Virginia, United States of America, will improve management for the conservation and sustainable use of more than 8.3 million hectares of protected areas, will bring 10,000 hectares of land under improved management, and restore a further 24,000 hectares of forests and natural grasslands. They will also mitigate 4.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and directly support nearly 92,000 people, including indigenous peoples and local communities.
The approval of these three projects marks the end of the GEF's 2018-2022 funding cycle, the most productive four-year period in the FAO-GEF partnership to date, with more than $600 million in grant funding secured for member countries. . These grants help 96 countries address the most pressing issues at the intersection of agri-food systems and the environment.
The last four years of investments from the FAO-GEF partnership will help member countries improve the management of 150 million hectares of landscapes and seascapes, restore almost 4 million hectares of land and change more than 2 million tons of fisheries overexploited to sustainable levels. . The investments will also mitigate more than 570 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. More than 13 million women, men and children will benefit directly from the investments.
The GEF is a partnership of 18 agencies, including the FAO, and 184 countries that addresses the world's most challenging environmental issues related to biodiversity, climate change, land degradation, chemicals, and international waters. It provides grants to countries to address these challenges while contributing to key development goals such as food security.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the Ministry of Oil of Iraq have launched a history book titled ‘OPEC 60 years and beyond: A story of courage, cooperation and commitment’.
The launch took place in Iraq on the sidelines of the sixth edition of Iraq Energy Forum to mark the 60th anniversary of the 13-member organisation, which has Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela as founding members.
A statement from OPEC on Sunday, made available to the News Agency of Nigeria stated that the launch took place in the Bab Al-Muaatham district of Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.
It also stated that the area was the site where the organisation was founded in September 1960.
The publication was prepared by the OPEC Secretariat to commemorate the organisation’s 60th Anniversary and was published to bring OPEC’s objectives and achievements in the past six decades to a wider readership.
The first section of the book conducts a thorough review of OPEC’s history, including key events that predated its establishment, while the second part explores important topics for the organisation’s mission and work.
The two sections which involve international dialogue and sustainable development are divided into “Analysing the 60 Years’ and ‘Cross Cutting Issues”.
At the launch, HE Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismaael, Iraq’s Minister of Oil and Head of its Delegation to OPEC, said: “It is a great privilege to launch the special book commissioned for the 60th Anniversary of OPEC’s founding.
“For Iraq, and the city of Baghdad in particular, we are delighted to be the site of the launch of this book,” Ismaael said.
The minister, while recalling how OPEC was founded in September 1960 in Baghdad, said that the organisation came into existence as a result of the vision of its founding members.
He said; “The fact that our country is the birthplace of OPEC is an enormous source of pride for all Iraqis.
“We are proud of our role as a founder member; as a constructive force throughout the organisation’s history; a consensus forger and bridge builder.
“We are pleased that the Iraqi Government has sponsored this book and hope it will be a useful reference tool for future generations who seek to acquaint themselves better with our organisation”.
According to Ismaael, the book represents a singular accomplishment, meticulously researched, compellingly written to showcase the multitude of accomplishments of the organisation throughout its history.
OPEC Secretary-General, Dr Mohammad Barkindo, who delivered a brief remark at the launch, lauded the organisation for its many achievements over the last six decades.
Barkindo noted that surviving 60 years was a monumental achievement for OPEC, especially when it involved the most volatile commodities – oil.
“As an organisation, we have come a long way and have witnessed many ups and downs.
“We have seen seven major market cycles, including the latest in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and we have evolved as an integral part of the international energy community and we have seen reams of column inches written about OPEC.
“It is important to stress that in terms of OPEC’s history, the organisation is far more than an appendage to the history of oil.
“It is a story of a family of nations, of people and populations, of feelings, and emotions of countries rich in culture and heritage.
“It is also the struggle of a group of developing countries to exercise the inalienable right of all countries to exercise permanent sovereignty over their natural resources in the interest of their national development.
“The history of OPEC underscores the adversities the organisation has faced, the challenges overcome, the achievements made, and the value placed on dialogue and cooperation with other industry stakeholders, including both producers and consumers,” Barkindo said.
Barkindo commended those involved in producing the book, noting that the cooperation between the OPEC secretariat in Vienna and contributors from Iraq was encouraging.
Highlight of the event was the signing of a copy of the book by the Iraqi Minister of Oil and the OPEC Secretary-General to signify the launch of the book.
The event was attended by several Iraqi Ministers, as well as senior officials from the Ministries of Oil and Culture.
Other activities at the event include cultural traditional music from OPEC Member Countries including Iraq.
The event also featured a show of traditional Iraqi costumes, which was presented by the Iraqi Al Aziaa House in Baghdad.
Colombia's polling stations opened for voting Sunday in a presidential race fraught with uncertainty, as former guerrilla Gustavo Petro and millionaire businessman Rodolfo Hernández vie for power in a country plagued by widespread poverty, violence and other ills.
Abstention is expected to be high as voters face a stark choice between electing their first leftist president or opting for a maverick outsider dubbed the Colombian Donald Trump.
In Bogotá, the outgoing president, Iván Duque, opened the voting for Colombia's 39 million voters at 8:00 am (13:00 GMT).
The polls will close at 4:00 pm and the first results are expected a couple of hours later.
Hernández was among the first voters in the northern city of Bucaramanga, where he was mayor from 2016 to 2019.
"What we have now in the country are questions, uncertainties," Patricia Inés Muñoz, an expert at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, told AFP.
It has been a tense campaign, with several candidates receiving death threats before the first round last month, when Colombia's traditional conservative and liberal powers suffered a heavy defeat.
"These are the closest elections in the country's recent history," said the Sunday edition of the newspaper El Tiempo.
It is feared that a tight result could spark post-election violence and 320,000 police and military have been deployed to ensure security.
The successor to the unpopular conservative Duque will have to deal with a country in crisis, reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, recession, a rise in drug-related violence and deep-seated anger in the political establishment.
Nearly 40 percent of the country lives in poverty while 11 percent is unemployed.
That anger spilled over into massive anti-government protests in April 2021 that were controversially met by a heavy-handed response from security forces.
Pre-election opinion polls have been inconclusive, although abstention is expected to be 45 percent with up to another five percent undecided.
"I feel very confused," Camila Araque, a 29-year-old lawyer from Bogota, told AFP. "I don't like either option as president."
Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank says voters "are trying to figure out who is the lesser of two evils."
Petro comfortably led the first round of voting with 40 percent, 12 points ahead of Hernández.
But Petro's past as a radical leftist urban guerrilla in the 1980s, during which time he spent two years in prison on weapons charges, has left many Colombians fearful.
He has been in politics since his M-19 group made peace with the state in 1990 and formed a political party.
"The concern comes from the experience of leftist governments in the region," Muñoz said, "not only among citizens but also among the business and economic sectors."
Some believe that the former mayor of Bogotá would turn Colombia into another authoritarian populist socialist state like neighboring Venezuela.
“On the verge of hysteria,” Shifter said, but “it's understandable because… more than any other Latin American country, the tragedy and nightmare of Venezuela has impacted Colombia,” creating a “terror” that they are next.
Petro, 62, says the country needs social justice to build peace after a six-decade multifaceted conflict involving leftist rebels, the state, right-wing paramilitaries and drug cartels.
“That is, less poverty, less hunger, less inequality, more rights. If you don't do this, violence proliferates,” he told Caracol Radio on Friday.
Petro, who is popular with many young people, named feminist environmentalist Francia Márquez, 40, as his running mate.
'Dialogue and agreements are needed'
Just a few months ago, Hernández was a virtual unknown outside of Bucaramanga.
But his unconventional policies and a series of mistakes, most notably when he apparently confused Adolf Hitler with Albert Einstein in a radio interview, have drawn attention.
Though he also named a woman, academic Mirelen Castillo, 53, as his running mate, he recently said a woman's place was in the home.
But it is his lack of political or program experience that worries many.
“As a businessman, he is used to resolving conflicts directly and quickly, but the exercise of governance requires dialogue, agreements, long meetings to find common ground,” said Muñoz.
That is something he will have to do if he is elected, given that he has almost no representation in Congress.
"I am direct, I tell the truth, I do not calculate the consequences," he told Caracol TV on Friday.
What has drawn voters to Hernández has been his anti-corruption stance, even though he himself faces a corruption investigation from his mayor's office.
“Between theft, luxury and waste, a billion a week disappear, we are going to put an end to that from day one,” he promised.
The number of people forced to flee their homes has risen every year for the past decade and is at the highest level since records began, a trend that can only be reversed with a new concerted push towards peacemaking, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency said today.
At the end of 2021, people displaced by war, violence, persecution and human rights abuses numbered 89.3 million, 8% more than the previous year and more than double the number 10 years ago, according to the UNHCR's annual Global Trends report. .
Since then, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which triggered the fastest and one of the largest crises of forced displacement since World War II, and other emergencies, from Africa to Afghanistan and beyond, have pushed the figure above the dramatic milestone of 100 million.
"Every year of the last decade, the numbers have increased," said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. "Either the international community comes together to take action to address this human tragedy, resolve conflicts and find lasting solutions, or this terrible trend will continue."
The past year was notable for the number of conflicts that escalated and new ones that broke out; 23 countries, with a combined population of 850 million, faced conflicts of medium or high intensity, according to the World Bank.
Meanwhile, food shortages, inflation and the climate crisis are adding to people's hardships, dragging out the humanitarian response just as funding prospects in many situations look bleak.
The number of refugees increased in 2021 to 27.1 million. Arrivals increased in Uganda, Chad and Sudan, among others. Most of the refugees were, once again, hosted by neighboring countries with few resources. The number of asylum seekers reached 4.6 million, 11% more.
Last year also saw the 15th consecutive annual increase in people displaced within their countries by conflict, to 53.2 million. The increase was driven by increasing violence or conflict in some places, for example Myanmar. The conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray and other regions has caused millions to flee within the country. Insurgencies in the Sahel generated new internal displacement, particularly in Burkina Faso and Chad.
The speed and volume of displacement continue to outstrip the availability of solutions for the displaced, such as return, resettlement or local integration. However, the Global Trends report also contained glimmers of hope. The number of refugee and IDP returns increased in 2021, returning to pre-COVID-19 levels, with voluntary repatriation increasing by 71%, although numbers remained modest.
“While we are witnessing new and dire refugee situations, and existing situations being reactivated or remaining unresolved, there are also examples of countries and communities working together to find solutions for the displaced,” added Grandi. “It is happening in some places, for example regional cooperation to repatriate Ivorians, but these important decisions need to be replicated or scaled up elsewhere.”
And while the estimated number of stateless people grew slightly in 2021, some 81,200 acquired or confirmed citizenship, the largest reduction in statelessness since the start of UNHCR's IBelong campaign in 2014.
UNHCR Global Trends Report 2021 – key facts:By May 2022, more than 100 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide due to persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, or events that seriously disturbed public order. At the end of 2021, the figure was 89.3 million, comprising: 27.1 million refugees 21.3 million UNHCR-mandated refugees 5.8 million UNRWA-mandated Palestine refugees 53.2 million internally displaced 4.6 million asylum seekers 4.4 million Venezuelans displaced abroad Among refugees and Venezuelans displaced abroad in 2021: Low- and middle-income countries hosted 83% Least developed countries provided asylum 27 % of the total. 72 percent lived in neighboring countries to their countries of origin. Türkiye hosted almost 3.8 million refugees, the largest population in the world, followed by Uganda (1.5 million), Pakistan (1.5 million) and Germany (1.3 million). Colombia took in 1.8 million Venezuelans displaced abroad. Lebanon hosted the largest number of refugees per capita (1 in 8), followed by Jordan (1 in 14) and Türkiye (1 in 23). Relative to their national populations, the island of Aruba hosted the largest number of Venezuelans displaced abroad (1 in 6), followed by Curaçao (1 in 10). More than two-thirds (69%) of refugees and displaced Venezuelans abroad came from just five countries: Syria (6.8 million), Venezuela (4.6 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South Sudan (2.4 million) and Myanmar (1.2 million). ). Globally, there were 6.1 million Venezuelan refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in 2021 (reported through the Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela). Asylum seekers filed 1.4 million new applications. The United States of America was the world's largest recipient of new individual claims (188,900), followed by Germany (148,200), Mexico (132,700), Costa Rica (108,500), and France (90,200). Solutions 5.7 million displaced persons returned to their areas or countries of origin in 2021, including 5.3 million internally displaced persons and 429,300 refugees.
Donald Trump inundated his advisers with wild voter fraud conspiracy theories after losing the 2020 US election, his top law enforcement official said in testimony unsealed Monday by a congressional investigation the former president called a “ mockery of justice”.
Appearing in a pre-recorded statement at a congressional hearing on the 2021 storming of the US Capitol, former Attorney General Bill Barr described his then-boss as having no interest in the facts that discredited his baseless narrative.
"I was demoralized because I thought, boy ... you've distanced yourself from reality if you really believe in these things," Barr told the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump supporters.
"When I went into this and told him how crazy some of these accusations were, there was never an indication of interest in the real facts," said Barr, who likened addressing Trump's spate of false accusations to playing the "whack-a-game." Mole."
The panel will hold six hearings throughout June to make its case that the riot at the headquarters of American democracy in Washington was the culmination of a seven-step conspiracy by Trump and his inner circle to overturn his loss to Joe Biden.
Trump ignored repeated warnings from top aides against falsely claiming the November 2020 election was stolen, according to testimony unsealed by the panel.
“We will tell the story of how Donald Trump lost the election, and he knew he lost the election, and as a result of his loss, he decided to attack our democracy,” Democratic committee chairman Bennie Thompson said in his opening remarks. .
Trump launched his first extended reaction to the investigation Monday night, with a rambling 12-page statement calling the panel a "mockery of justice" and a "kangaroo court hoping to distract the American people from the great pain you are experiencing. ”
The second of six planned hearings featured videotaped accounts of advisers to the former president, including Barr and campaign manager Bill Stepien, saying they repeatedly advised him not to declare victory on election night because he had not won. but that Trump went ahead anyway.
"He thought I was wrong, he told me, and that they were going to go in a different direction," Stepien said.
Thompson's deputy on the panel, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, said Trump chose to heed the advice of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, "apparently inebriated," "to claim he won and insist that the vote count be stopped." ". — falsely claiming that the whole thing was fraudulent.”
Trump began pushing what became known as his "Big Lie" around 2:30 a.m. on November 4, 2020, prematurely declaring victory on election night that he ultimately lost to Biden by seven million votes.
Barr said in his testimony that Trump claimed major fraud "from the get-go on election night ... before there was even a chance to see the evidence."
Giuliani and his associates, including attorney Sidney Powell, would go on to push discredited theories of massive voter fraud that put them at odds with the White House lawyers Stepien referred to as "Normal Team."
Cheney highlighted the "wide-reaching conspiracies," dismissed as "nonsense" by Barr, of fraud involving voting machines "with a deceased Venezuelan communist allegedly pulling the strings."
Trump repeated a series of unsubstantiated claims in his Monday night statement.
“Democrats created the January 6 narrative to detract from the much larger and more important truth that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen,” he said.
The committee says the initial fraud allegation quickly turned into a conspiracy to cling to power by Trump and his inner circle, and a fundraising campaign that raised $250 million between election night and Capitol insurrection.
The committee's senior research adviser, Amanda Wick, said much of the money was funneled to a political action committee that made donations to pro-Trump organizations.
“Back in April 2020, Mr. Trump claimed that the only way he could lose an election would be as a result of fraud,” said Zoe Lofgren, a member of the Democratic panel.
"The big lie was also a big scam," he said, promising to show how the Trump campaign raised hundreds of millions of dollars from supporters who were falsely led to believe their donations would be used to fight legal claims of fraud.
All but one of the 62 lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign were dismissed, the vast majority by Republican-appointed judges, while the one that was upheld did not affect the outcome.
Powell filed four federal lawsuits in staunchly Democratic cities that were dismissed as frivolous, and in Detroit, a judge ordered him to face penalties for a "profound and historic abuse of the judicial process."
The panel ended the hearing by going back to the unrest on Capitol Hill, showing footage of mob participants explaining how Trump's voter fraud claims had motivated their actions.
“I know exactly what is going on right now. Fake elections,” said one.
The price of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) basket of 13 crude oil samples stood at 123.21 dollars per barrel Thursday.
This is compared to 121.54 dollars per barrel recorded on Wednesday.
This is according to the OPEC Secretariat calculations obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Abuja.
The OPEC Reference Basket of Crudes (ORB) is made up of the Saharan Blend (Algeria), Girassol (Angola), Djeno (Congo), Zafiro (Equatorial Guinea), Rabi Light (Gabon) and Iran Heavy (Islamic Republic of Iran).
Others are Basra Light (Iraq), Kuwait Export (Kuwait), Es Sider (Libya), Bonny Light (Nigeria), Arab Light (Saudi Arabia), Murban (UAE) and Merey (Venezuela).
US President Joe Biden insisted on Thursday that there was unity at a summit of the Americas after the leaders of Argentina and Belize openly criticized him for excluding three leftist leaders.
“Despite some of the disagreements related to turnout, on the substantive issues, what I heard was almost unity and uniformity,” Biden said.
He said he saw "near total agreement" on issues such as managing migration and combating climate change, and called for more discussion on details before the summit closes on Friday.
Biden refused to invite leftist leaders from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, describing them as autocrats who are not welcome at a summit dedicated to democracy. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador later refused to come in protest.
Argentina's centre-left President Alberto Fernández, who was persuaded to come after a call from Biden, attacked the decision in front of the US leader at the Los Angeles summit.
"Being the host country of the summit does not grant the ability to impose a right of admission to the member countries of the continent," said Fernández.
He later shook hands with Biden before the US president, who was in attendance alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, spoke again and addressed the criticism.
Biden also drew criticism from the leader of one of the region's smallest countries, Belize, who said it was "inexcusable" not to invite all countries.
He praised the export of doctors employed by the state of Cuba, a practice that US officials denounce as trafficking, Prime Minister John Briceño called US sanctions on the island a "crime against humanity."
Turkey, Venezuela announce plans for closer tiesPlansde Jaeneiro, June 9, 2022 Turkey and Venezuela have signalled their intention to forge closer partnership as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolás Maduro signed several agreements in Ankara.Both sides stressed the importance of improved bilateral relations, with Maduro calling Erdoğan his “brother” in a tweet, while the Turkish president condemned the “unilateral” sanctions on Venezuela in a tweet written in Spanish.The U.S. had imposed a whole range of sanctions against the authoritarian Venezuelan leadership.Maduro, unlike most other Latin American leaders, was not invited to attend the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles this week by U.S. President Joe Biden.The U.S. government also declined to invite the authoritarian leaders of Cuba and Nicaragua to the summit, that caused Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Bolivian President Luis Arce and Honduran President Xiomara Castro to cancel their own planned participation.Venezuela had been in a severe political and economic crisis for years, experiencing dire food, medicine and fuel shortages despite the country’s enormous oil wealth, forcing millions of Venezuelans to leave the country. (
US Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday announced another $1.9 billion in private-sector funding to boost jobs in hopes of reducing migration from Central America, at a Latin American summit in Los Angeles that was rejected by leaders of the United States. Mexico and other affected countries.
Harris has been tasked with the unenviable task of addressing the root causes of rising migration to the United States, an issue that has been taken up by the rival GOP and has become a top priority for President Joe Biden. at a week-long Summit of the Americas.
A day before Biden's arrival, the White House said Harris would reveal another $1.9 billion in commitments — on top of the $1.2 billion announced last year — from companies aiming to create economic opportunity in El Salvador's impoverished Northern Triangle. , Guatemala and Honduras.
Harris will also give details about the "Central American Service Corps" financed through US aid to provide opportunities for young people.
The investments are intended to "provide hope for people in the region to build secure and prosperous lives at home," a White House statement said.
Creating jobs at home While visiting her home state, Harris hosted a dinner Monday with regional business leaders and was scheduled to meet with civil society leaders Tuesday to promote the empowerment of women in Central America.
But none of the Northern Triangle leaders will attend the summit, nor will President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, the United States' crucial partner on immigration policy because of their shared 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border.
The White House said 23 heads of state would come to Los Angeles, including the leaders of key players such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia. Mexico and the Northern Triangle nations will still participate at a lower level.
The new financing announced by Harris included a commitment from credit card giant Visa to invest more than $270 million over five years with the goal of bringing a million more businesses and 6.5 million people into a formal financial system in a corruption-ridden region.
The North American branch of Yazaki, the Japanese auto parts maker, will invest $110 million, hiring more than 14,000 new employees in Guatemala and El Salvador, the White House said.
Other companies that have pledged include clothing maker Gap and Millicon, a telecommunications company that plans to invest $700 million to expand mobile and broadband networks in the three countries.
'Disrespectful' López Obrador, a left-wing populist who had developed a surprisingly close relationship with Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, followed through on Monday with threats to boycott the summit over Biden's refusal to invite Cuba's leaders. , Nicaragua and Venezuela to the summit. he argues that the summit is only for democracies.
"You can't have a Summit of the Americas if you don't have all the countries of the Americas attending," López Obrador said, complaining of US "hegemony" and "lack of respect for nations."
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought until the last minute to woo López Obrador, even seeking lower-level involvement from Cuba and easing some restrictions, including on US flights to the communist island. .
But US officials said they saw no reciprocity from Cuban authorities, who recently went ahead with the trial of two dissident artists, making the invitation politically unpalatable in Washington, where anti-communist Cuban-Americans dominate.
"The challenges posed by these three regimes," State Department spokesman Ned Price said, "were simply insurmountable when you talk about bringing together a summit where democratic governance, democratic values, are on the agenda."
Cuba, an archenemy of Washington since the aftermath of its 1959 communist revolution despite tentative thawing attempts by former President Barack Obama, denounced its exclusion from the summit as "undemocratic."
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, considered illegitimate by Washington due to a 2018 election in which extensive irregularities were denounced, accused the United States of “discrimination”.
But Bob Menendez, a Cuban-American Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the administration for standing firm.
"I join those who are increasingly concerned about President López Obrador's decision to support dictators and despots for representing the interests of the Mexican people at a summit with their partners from across the hemisphere," Menéndez said.
Swiss-based mining and commodity multinational Glencore Plc has been in the headlines lately for all the wrong reasons.
Following lengthy investigations by Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States, two Glencore subsidiaries pleaded guilty on May 24 to multiple charges of market manipulation and bribery, including corruption related to the company's oil operations in Africa and South America.
Glencore's sanctions against the US alone for violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and manipulating commodity prices will total approximately $1.2 billion.
According to investigating countries, Glencore's corrupt actions included more than $100 million in bribes to officials in Brazil, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, South Sudan and Venezuela between 2007 and 2018.
"The scope of this criminal bribery scheme is staggering," said US Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “Glencore paid bribes to secure oil contracts. Glencore paid bribes to avoid government audits. Glencore bribed judges to make lawsuits go away. Ultimately, Glencore paid bribes to make money: hundreds of millions of dollars. And it did so with the approval, and even encouragement, of its top executives.”
Staggering is a good word to describe the extent of Glencore's corrupt behaviour. We would add infuriating. What Glencore did is illegal, immoral and completely unacceptable. It does not reflect normal business dealings in the oil and gas industry. And for the record, the African Chamber of Energy has never solicited or accepted a single monetary contribution from Glencore.
Furthermore, we strongly believe that Glencore's dealings in African countries should be closely scrutinized at the local level, and African officials who accepted bribes should be held accountable. Investigations must be opened and Glencore must be forced to come clean about the full extent of its corrupt dealings – after all, Glenore is a member of the Norwegian-based Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Although based on its years of corrupt actions, Glencore should be suspended as an EITI support company.
And finally, all Africans, those most affected by the toxic effects of corruption, must receive justice.
Double standard issues
We find it ironic that EITI, which has campaigned against African countries joining the initiative, still has Glencore as a member, especially considering the fact that Glencore's involvement in EITI began when the company was involved in the very behavior that EITI strives to eradicate.
“Glencore has supported the EITI principles of transparency and accountability since 2011,” states the EITI website. “Glencore, a long-time supporting mining company, has also been an active member of the EITI Working Group on Transparency in Commodity Trading, supporting the development of voluntary reporting guidelines on the purchase of oil, gas and minerals from the governments. The company believes that countries that transparently and effectively allocate natural resource wealth for the benefit of their communities have the potential to attract larger, more responsible and longer-term business investments.”
Is awesome. How can Glencore believe in these ideals and advise on transparency when it is one of the most corrupt companies in the oil and gas industry?
EITI Board Chair Rt Hon Helen Clark issued a statement on Glencore and raised concerns about the company's actions. She but she continues to urge Glencore to apply the lessons learned to its ongoing work with EITI. Consequences are not mentioned.
Imagine if this were an African country; imagine the response of the international community. It would not stop with sanctions and expressions of concern. Not only would the company be fined, but the management teams would be fined and jailed. We would comment on the likelihood of EITI suspending the African company's status as a supporting member, but given that EITI has resisted African participation, it is debatable.
This double standard is unfair. It sends the wrong message to Africans.
Create light from darkness
Corruption has been the scourge of African countries for too long. It restricts individual freedoms and fosters poverty and instability. Corruption harms people and communities. Kill hope.
That is why we are calling on the US government to use the $1.2 billion in fines that Glencore is paying to empower Africans. They are the real victims of Glencore's misdeeds and mistakes.
Glencore sanctions should go to organizations like Power Africa, a public-private partnership formed by the US to help tackle energy poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, a goal shared by the African Chamber of Energy. Glencore's corruption and state capture have undermined efforts to make energy poverty history. Directing money to Power Africa will help change the lives of more than 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who currently lack reliable electricity.
A portion of the fine payment could also go to Prosper Africa, another US program. Prosper Africa strives to empower African businesses with market insights, deal support and solutions that can help strengthen business climates. Its goals are to create jobs and foster shared prosperity. Supporting this program would be a great way to have a positive impact on African people and communities.
Another recommendation: African countries need trillions of dollars to finance their transition to renewable energy in support of international climate goals. Earlier this month, the African Organization of Petroleum Producers and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) signed a memorandum of understanding to create a power bank that will not only increase much-needed private sector investment in projects African oil and gas producers, but will also increase revenues from renewable energy projects.
Directing a portion of Glencore's penalty payments to the African Energy Bank is an excellent opportunity for the US to empower African countries while supporting international climate goals.
The last thing our energy sector needed
Glencore's actions deal a severe blow to Africa's oil and gas energy. At a time when the African Chamber of Energy is trying to show the world how good oil and gas operations can do on our continent, we hope that those who follow the Glencore news will understand that it is far from the norm in our industry.
Frankly, we are dismayed that businessmen who come from free and democratic societies think that the best way to operate in Africa is to engage in corruption.
The African Chamber of Energy advocates for free market solutions in Africa, but free markets cannot exist without the rule of law. Free markets cannot exist unless we make sure that the right actions are taken.
We cannot tolerate a company that puts profit before integrity or that serves itself without regard for the detrimental effects of its actions.
Glencore represents the worst of the oil and gas industry and will be excluded from the African Energy Week from October 18-21 in Cape Town, South Africa. There are many, many energy companies committed to doing good in Africa. They are the companies we want to work with to help build a better future for Africans.