International Affairs

Zimbabwe:We Don't Just Hand Out Money, Says China - Wed, 21 Mar 2018
[New Zimbabwe] China dragged its feet on implementing former President Robert Mugabe's "mega-deals" because of a poisoned business environment, Beijing's envoy to Harare has said.

Kenya:Kenya Tops in Phone Internet Traffic Globally - Wed, 21 Mar 2018
[Nation] Kenya is leading globally in share of internet traffic coming from mobile phones overtaking Nigeria, which was at the top in 2017.

Zimbabwe:Child Labour Exposed At Tobacco Farms - Wed, 21 Mar 2018
[CAJ News] Harare -Research by human rights groups has established abusive practices such as child labour and exposure to nicotine poisoning in the production of Zimbabwe's globally-renowned tobacco.

Zimbabwe:Striking Doctors Defy Govt Order to Resume Work - Wed, 21 Mar 2018
[New Zimbabwe] Zimbabwe's junior doctors have vowed to persist with their strike action in defiance of a Monday government directive to resume their duties.

Zimbabwe:Teachers To Go On Strike Over Salaries - Wed, 21 Mar 2018
[New Zimbabwe] Education sector workers have resolved to down tools at the beginning of the second term until government meets their demands for salaries above the Poverty Datum Line and other benefits.

Adrift in Afghanistan - Wed, 03 May 2017

As the war in Afghanistan drifts back into the public spotlight, Senior Fellow Gayle Tzemach Lemmon argues that five “urgent questions must be answered about the near- and long-term future of the fight.” The United States must clarify its definition of stability and success in Afghanistan, determine whether the Taliban, ISIS, or both is the enemy, discuss how many troops are needed on the ground, and create plans for stemming the loss of life among Afghan forces and for bringing an end to the war.

Making Chile Great Again - Wed, 03 May 2017

Since its return to democracy in 1990, Chile has been heralded as Latin America’s exception, writes Shannon O’Neil. But in the present, “this tranquillity has come to an end, and the economic and social consensus of the postauthoritarian years has crumbled.”

A Vision of Trump at War - Wed, 22 Mar 2017

Writing in Foreign Affairs, Philip Gordon offers a vision of howPresident Trump could stumble—through bluster, wishful thinking, and miscalculation—into war with Iran, China, and North Korea.

World Order 2.0 - Wed, 15 Feb 2017

There is growing tension between President Trump’s America First doctrine and building order in an interconnected world, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass.

Egypt’s Nightmare - Mon, 13 Feb 2017

The single-minded pursuit of the Muslim Brotherhood has become the guiding principle of Egypt’s foreign and domestic policies, writes CFR’s Steven A. Cook. These policies, however, are proving counterproductive and destabilizing to the lives of Egyptians as well as Gazans, Libyans, and Syrians.

Issue Guide: Fidel Castro - Sat, 26 Nov 2016

Fidel Castro, who died on November 25, was one of the most prominent figures of the Cold War and an adversary of ten consecutive U.S. presidential administrations. This reading list considers the legacy of his nearly fifty years in power, including the Cuban Missle Crisis, the U.S. economic embargo, and the years following the Cold War.

Iran Nuclear Deal’s ‘Implementation Day’ - Sun, 17 Jan 2016

The confirmation by UN monitors that Iran has complied with the deal to dismantle large parts of its nuclear program lifts major sanctions and ushers in a new era for the Middle East. This issue guide offers analysis and background.

Issue Guide: 2016 State of the Union Address - Mon, 11 Jan 2016

Catch up on the issues President Obama will focus on in his final year with this State of the Union reading list.

Issue Guide: Iran Nuclear Talks - Fri, 26 Jun 2015

As the deadline looms for the completion of a deal to limit Iran's nuclear program, this issue guide provides background on the diplomatic progress and stumbling blocks, and possible consequences of an agreement.

Issue Guide: Greece's Debt Crisis - Mon, 15 Jun 2015

Five years after the onset of its sovereign debt crisis, Greece once again finds itself on the precipice of default and a departure from the nineteen-member eurozone. This reading list provides expert background and analysis of the crisis.

Investing in Mendoza - Wed, 21 Mar 2018
As Mendoza hosts the annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank, FT writers analyse one of Argentina’s most dynamic provincial economies, including its energy, tourism, agriculture and — in the land of Malbec — its wine

IDB chief Luis Alberto Moreno: ‘We must improve society as a whole’ - Wed, 21 Mar 2018
With Mendoza hosting this week’s Inter-American Development Bank meeting, the FT put questions to its president

Argentina: Mendoza’s economy surmounts natural — and man-made — hazards - Wed, 21 Mar 2018
Diversified industries generate healthy returns for Argentina’s fourth largest province

Brazil pulp merger creates global commodities titan - Mon, 19 Mar 2018
Suzano’s R$36bn takeover of Fibria to create one of Brazil's biggest industrial companies

São Paulo offers blueprint for what Brazil could achieve - Tue, 13 Mar 2018
The motto of this urban powerhouse is ‘non ducor, duco’: I am not led, I lead

Trump set to announce China sanctions after IP probe - Wed, 21 Mar 2018
The White House says its investigation finds that China encourages the theft or transfer of intellectual property.

Facebook's Zuckerberg 'sorry' over Cambridge Analytica 'breach' - Thu, 22 Mar 2018
The Facebook chief admits there was a "breach of trust" and vows to tackle misuse of personal data.

Tesla boss Elon Musk's $2.6bn pay day - Wed, 21 Mar 2018
Shareholders have approved a deal that could award shares worth billions to Tesla's chief executive.

New Look to axe 1,000 jobs and 60 stores - Wed, 21 Mar 2018
Lenders to the struggling fashion retailer agree a restructuring plan in a bid to stay afloat.

Time owner plans sale and 1,000 layoffs - Wed, 21 Mar 2018
The Iowa company that purchased Time in January plans to sell the firm's namesake publication.

France Should Face up to Azerbaijan’s Rights Record - Tuesday, March 1

In Paris this week on an official visit, Azerbaijan’s autocratic President Ilham Aliyev has already scored one photo op. Anyone reading yesterday’s Azeri media could see dozens of photos of Aliyev posing with leaders of top French companies, including Airbus, Suez, and Credit Agricole.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev (L) shakes hands with his French counterpart Francois Hollande as they visit a local French school under construction in Baku, May 11, 2014.

© 2014 Reuters

Today, President Hollande will receive President Aliyev and host an official dinner at Palais de l’Elysee. Again, Parisian photo ops abound. But amid the flashing cameras, one has to wonder where Azerbaijan’s repression of critics and the jailing of opponents fits in the new relationship between Paris and Baku?

In the past few years, Azerbaijani authorities have aggressively gone after the country’s once vibrant civil society, jailing dozens of activists, journalists, and political opponents. It also adopted draconian legislation making it virtually impossible for independent non-governmental organizations to operate.

One year ago, as Azerbaijan’s economy started to suffer from falling oil prices, several of those detained on political grounds were released. That was an important first step, but hopes for progress were short-lived.

Many of those released face travel bans or obstacles to their activities. Dozens are still locked up on political grounds, including opposition activist Ilgar Mammadov, despite repeated calls by the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe for his immediate release. And more activists have been thrown in jail. Recently, one of the country’s most popular journalists and bloggers, Mehman Huseynov, was sentenced to two years in prison for allegedly defaming the police, in response to his brave public denouncement of the police abuses he suffered.

When visiting Paris, Brussels, or other European capitals, President Aliyev hopes to get more business opportunities and investment in Azerbaijan. But he prefers to ignore that the people of Azerbaijan want human rights protections, transparency, and good governance. Those standing up for these values are routinely exposed to attacks and harassment.

Yet what more clear message that Azerbaijan’s crackdown cannot be ignored by potential investors than last week’s decision by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international coalition promoting better governance of resource-rich countries, to suspend Azerbaijan – precisely because of its actions against civil society.

President Hollande should reject a narrative that only finance and economy matter in Azerbaijan. Human rights should be as central to France’s foreign policy as other topics.

Hollande should publicly call for the release of Ilgar Mammadov and all those detained in retaliation for their activism and criticism. A failure to explicitly support human rights principles would be the worst message to those unjustly waiting behind bars.

Arvind Ganesan - Monday, May 25,

Arvind Ganesan is the director of Human Rights Watch’s Business and Human Rights Division. He leads the organization’s work to expose human rights abuses linked to business and other economic activity, hold institutions accountable, and develop standards to prevent future abuses. This work has included research and advocacy on awide range of issues includingthe extractive industries; public and private security providers; international financial institutions; freedom of expression and information through the internet; labor rights; supply chain monitoring and due diligence regimes; corruption; sanctions; and predatory practices against the poor. Ganesan’s work has covered countries such as Angola, Azerbaijan, Burma, China, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, India, Indonesia, the United States, and Nigeria. His recent research has focused on predatory lending practices and governance issues on Native American reservations in the United States. He has written numerous reports, op-eds, and other articles and is widely cited by the media.

Ganesan has also worked to develop industry standards to ensure companies and other institutions respect human rights. He is a founder of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights for the oil, gas, and mining industries and is a founding member of the Global Network Initiative (GNI) for the internet and telecommunications industries, where he also serves on the board. Ganesan has helped to develop standards for international financial institutions such as the World Bank, and regularly engages governments in an effort to develop mandatory rules or strengthen existing standards such as the Kimberley Process. He serves on the board of EGJustice, a nongovernmental organization that promotes good governance in Equatorial Guinea, and is a member of the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR)’s steering committee.

Before joining Human Rights Watch, Ganesan worked as a medical researcher. He attended the University of Oklahoma.

The Path to Responsible Sourcing in the Jewellery Sector - Wednesday, March

A girl works in an artisanal diamond mine in Sosso Nakombo, Central African Republic, near the border with Cameroon, in August 2015.

© 2015 Marcus Bleasdale for Human Rights Watch

These days, jewellers use many terms to describe their efforts to ensure that their products aren’t the result of abusive mining practices: “Responsible sourcing,” “ethical sourcing,” “responsible business conduct,” and “sustainable luxury” for example. Many jewellers want to be sure to avoid unwittingly using gold mined by children—a valid concern, as I found out when I visited gold mines in Ghana, Mali, Tanzania, and the Philippines and met children working in deep pits and processing gold with mercury.

But what should jewellers do to avoid contributing to human rights abuses in their supply chain?

It’s clear jewellers should make sure they have traceable, transparent supply chains that are regularly assessed for human rights conditions. Let’s unpack this.


First, jewellers need to make sure they know where their gold, diamonds, or other minerals come from. They need to map their supply chain. How else can they find out what human rights issues are lurking in their supply chain?

An increasing number of small jewellers are doing this, for example Anna Loucah, a UK jeweller who sources most of her gold from traceable small-scale mines in Peru. Large jewellery companies can do this too. Tiffany and Co. is able to trace all its mined gold back to one mine of origin.

The Swiss jeweller Chopard and the French jeweller Cartier can trace at least a portion of their gold back to the mine. And gold refiners can, for a higher price, refine gold in segregated batches to preserve traceability.

Human rights assessments

Second, jewellers need to find out what human rights concerns are present in their supply chains and address them. This requires visits to the mines of origin and regular monitoring to investigate concerns about labour rights, indigenous people’s rights, health rights, and the protection of civilians in war. Human rights experts should conduct these assessments. If abuses are found, a company needs to take corrective action.

Companies can build human rights assessments into their operations in a variety of ways. One option is to source from rigorous certification schemes that monitor conditions in mines and reduce human rights risks that way, such as Fairtrade or Fairmined.

Anna Loucah sources from Fairtrade mines. Chopard sources part of its gold from Fairmined certified mines in Latin America. But companies can also source from mines that are not part of any certification scheme. Sometimes they source directly from mines that are supported and monitored through programs by nongovernmental agencies. Others conduct assessments themselves or use qualified auditors to identify and respond to human rights concerns in their supply chain.


Finally, jewellers need to be transparent about their actions. Some companies, including Tiffany and Co., Cartier, and the Danish jeweller Pandora publish annual reports on their efforts to source responsibly. This is good, but more can still be done. In particular, companies should disclose the human rights risks they have identified in their supply chains, the steps they have taken to address them, and the results of external audits. Jewellers should deal publicly and actively with risks. Pandora has made a step in this direction by recently disclosing that its supply chain audits found problems needing addressing in the areas of health and safety and working hours.

Companies should also make their suppliers public. Such transparency is vital to ensure that affected communities, miners, consumers, and the wider public can scrutinize the actions of companies and match the companies’ words to their actions.

Consumers increasingly demand that jewellers act responsibly. But not only that—international norms on mineral sourcing, such as the due diligence guidance developed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) spells out how companies in the mineral supply chain should assess and mitigate risks and be transparent about it.

Jewellers owe it to their consumers and to communities they get their minerals from to source truly responsibly.

Jewelers, Take Responsibility! - Wednesday, March

A boy and a girl work in a small gold mine in Amansie West district, Ghana.

© 2016 Juliane Kippenberg for Human Rights Watch
This week is the start of Baselworld, one of the world’s largest jewelry and watch fairs. Visitors will learn a lot about new watch and jewelry design. But how much will they hear about the human rights conditions under which gold and other minerals for jewelry and watches have been mined?
Gold mining has led repeatedly to serious human rights violations. My colleagues and I have documented such abuses in gold mines in the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Eritrea.
We have also investigated the steps jewelry and watch companies are taking to avoid contributing to human rights abuses in their gold and diamond supply chains. We took a closer look at 13 leading jewelry and watch brands, with combined annual revenue of about $30 billion. Among them were Bulgari, Chopard, Harry Winston and Rolex.
We found that many companies don’t know where their gold and diamonds are coming from, and don’t do enough to assess human rights risks. In addition, jewelry and watch companies—including Bulgari, Chopard and Harry Winston-- often publish only some sparse, general information about human rights risks in their supply chains.  Some companies, such as Rolex, don’t publish any information about their supply chains and company responsibility.
When we contacted the 13 companies more than a year ago, many pointed to their certification by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). These companies considered their RJC certification proof of responsible sourcing. The RJC is an industry group with over 1,000 members that certifies members for carrying out its “Code of Practices” standard. But the standard is broad and imprecise, and does not require companies to fully trace the source of their minerals. There is little monitoring to ensure that companies are following the RJC’s code. It even falls short of the guidance on mineral supply chains by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
All jewelry and watch companies have a responsibility regarding their supply chains. Consumers increasingly demand responsible business conduct. And not only that—international norms about “due diligence” make clear that companies should assess human rights risks in their product chains and ask their suppliers to provide them with detailed information about all steps back to the mine.
In the interest of transparency, companies should report publicly about the human rights due diligence they are undertaking. Nongovernmental groups in Switzerland and elsewhere increasingly demand legal requirements for companies to carry out human rights due diligence. Indeed, voluntary standards are not enough to move the majority of companies to action.
Still, a few companies lead by example. Among the companies examined, Tiffany and Co. stands out for its ability to track its gold back to the mine, and for its thorough assessments of human rights impacts. Other jewelry companies-- including many small jewelers -- are increasingly making efforts to source their gold directly from small-scale mines where rights are respected. An example for this is the “Fairmined” standard, which oblige mines to respect clearly defined labor rights requirements and monitors conditions regularly for compliance.
Interestingly, Chopard is among those sourcing a small portion of its gold from „Fairmined” certified mines—a positive step. But it is disappointing that Chopard provides no information yet about the supply chain for the largest part of its gold.
It is time for all jewellery and watch companies at Baselworld  should be transparent about where their gold originates and what they are doing to address human rights abuses in their supply chains.

Jewelry, Watch Firms Should Reveal Sources at Baselworld Fair - Tuesday, March 2

Jewelry companies scrutinized by Human Rights Watch.

© 2016 Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Vera Wang LOVE; © 2013/Alamy;  © 2014 Michael Nagle/ Bloomberg via Getty Images; © 2017 Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images; © 2011/Alamy; © Noebse / Wikimedia Commons;  © 2013 Waring Abbott/Getty Images; © 2014/ Alamy; ©Tony Latham/LOOP images via Getty Images; © 2011 Photo by Marc Piasecki/FilmMagic; © 2008/SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images

(Basel) – Jewelry and watch companies exhibiting at the Baselworld jewelry and watch fair should disclose their sourcing practices and supply chains, Human Rights Watch said today. Baselworld, one of the world’ largest jewelry and watch fairs, will take place from March 22 to 27, 2018 in the Swiss city of Basel.

“Baselworld is a glamorous event displaying stunning new jewelry and watches,” said Juliane Kippenberg, associate children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Companies should give just as much attention to responsible sourcing of their precious minerals and stones as they do to beautiful design.”

Human Rights Watch has documented how precious minerals, such as gold and diamonds, are sometimes mined under abusive conditions. Communities near mines have faced ill-health and environmental harm as mines have polluted waterways with toxic chemicals. Civilians have suffered in armed conflict situations when armed groups have fought over access to mines. And children have risked their lives when working in small-scale mines in Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines.

Human Rights Watch recently scrutinized the gold and diamond sourcing policies and practices of 13 well-known jewelry brands. It found that most companies do not do enough to trace their gold and diamonds back to the mines of origin, address human rights concerns in their supply chains, and share information with the public about their supply chains and efforts to source responsibly. It also found that many jewelers rely on their certification by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), an industry body with weak standards and an audit process that lacks transparency.

Jewelry and watch companies need to do more to ensure that their supply chains are free of human rights abuse.

However, Human Rights Watch also found that the practices of companies differ significantly, and that some companies are taking important steps in the right direction. Tiffany stands out for its ability to track its gold back to the mine, and for its thorough assessments of human rights impacts. Two jewelers with weaker sourcing approaches, the UK jeweler Boodles and the German jeweler Christ, recently pledged to strengthen their practices. The Responsible Jewellery Council, which has over 1,000 members, has signalled openness to strengthening its standard.

Among the businesses scrutinized by Human Rights Watch that exhibit at Baselworld are:

  • The Italian jeweler Bulgari (ranked “moderate”): Bulgari checks human rights risks in its supply chain by visiting suppliers and, occasionally, mines. The company takes extra steps to ensure it tracks its gold through the supply chain. Unfortunately, it does not trace its diamonds back to the mines of origin and does not publish details about its sourcing efforts or the names of its suppliers.
  • The Swiss jeweler Chopard (ranked “weak”): Chopard stands out as a company that sources part of its gold from Fairmined certified mines – small-scale mines with that adhere to a rigorous, regularly checked standard. Unfortunately, Chopard does not say publicly what percentage of its gold originates from these mines, and what it does to source its other gold and its diamonds responsibly.
  • The US jeweler Harry Winston (ranked “weak”): Harry Winston states that it adheres to industry standards on ethical sourcing but provides little information on its suppliers or how it monitors human rights risks in its supply chain.
  • The Swiss watchmaker Rolex (no ranking due to non-disclosure): Rolex does not provide any information publicly on its sourcing practices or its suppliers.

Companies should ensure their supply chains are traceable, transparent, and regularly assessed for human rights conditions, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch and 28 nongovernmental organizations and trade unions have also jointly published a Call to Action for the jewelry industry, calling for robust human rights safeguards in their supply chains. In addition, Human Rights Watch has a digital campaign, #BehindTheBling, calling on jewelers to adopt responsible sourcing policies and practices.

For its report, Human Rights Watch approached 13 jewelry and watch brands, selected to include well-known brands from various geographic areas and markets. The brands collectively generate more than US$30 billion in annual revenue – about 10 percent of global jewelry sales. Ten of the companies responded to the Human Rights Watch request for information: Boodles, Bulgari, Cartier, Chopard, Christ, Harry Winston, Pandora, Signet (parent company of Kay Jewelers, Zales, Ernest Jones, and H. Samuel), Tanishq, and Tiffany. Three did not respond: Kalyan, Rolex, and TBZ.

Human Rights Watch assessed 13 companies against seven criteria for responsible sourcing, using information they provided directly and publicly available information.

Based on information publicly available or provided by the companies, Human Rights Watch ranked the 13 companies according to specific responsible sourcing criteria, including efforts to assess and respond to human rights risks, establish traceability, and publicly report about the company’s actions.

“The time has come for the jewelry and watch industry to put responsible sourcing at the heart of its business,” Kippenberg said. “Customers should know that no one was harmed in producing the beautiful jewelry and watches they buy and enjoy.”

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Copyright 2018 Toussaint Gaskins - All rights reserved.