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The Politics of Respecting Humans and Protecting the Oceans
Julia Levitt, 9 Feb 09

Chagos_Greenview.jpgGiven our recent focus on the state of the oceans, our attention was piqued this morning by this article published by The Economist. The issue at hand underscores our call for an international oceans agreement.

An international group of leading conservation organizations has devised a plan to establish the world's largest marine reserve. The proposed location: the Chagos Islands, home to coral reefs, pristine seas, and healthy aquatic life.

But the plan is highly politicized. The Chagos Islands are officially part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, and in the 1960s, the UK allowed the US to establish a defense base on Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands. In order to sell the land, the UK forced the native inhabitants to relocate. Nearly half a century later, at least half of those 5,000 Chagossian refugees want to return to their original home.

US officials say the military base and the marine reserve can co-exist, but that the base and the Chagossians cannot. To make matters more complicated, the native islanders' plan for return includes potential development of an airport and eco-tourism. While even the daily subsistence of the native population would violate the terms of a full marine reserve (they would need to fish), the establishment of a tourism industry, no matter how small, certainly changes the concept. Of course, how the environmental impact of any proposed Chagossian development compares to the current impact of the military base is another fully questionable issue.

Finally, as Sarah Kuck just pointed out to me, it's not clear that any proposed plan takes into account the Chagos Islands' sensitive location. The archipeligo lies about 300 miles south of the Maldives, where the population is already looking to relocate before their land disappears into the rising sea.

As the Economist piece concludes:

Whether the various views of the future of these islands can be reconciled is unclear. Ultimately, the gorilla in the room will decide these islands’ future—that gorilla, of course, being the base on Diego Garcia. The Americans bought Diego Garcia on condition that the Chagos Islands were uninhabited. Mr Corbyn said that the Foreign Office said last month that American security concerns preclude the Chagossians’ return—a reason he called “complete bunkum.” He argues, sensibly, that the best way to allay those concerns is with a friendly population. For the sake of the Chagossians, the base and the nature in which both are set, one hopes that the British and American governments agree.

We need to find a way around the politics to embrace a plan for sustainably managing the oceans that is planetary in scope. The crisis at hand if we continue to damage the world's seas makes issues of property and even military operations seem small indeed.

Photo source: The Economist

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Comments

Am Belgium (Le Monde 13.02)
und am Deutshland ist Wirtscahtkrise

von Raivo Pommer

Trotz einer Rücklage von fast 17 Milliarden Euro rechnet die Bundesagentur für Arbeit (BA) bereits im kommenden Jahr mit neuen Schulden in Milliardenhöhe. BA-Chef Frank-Jürgen Weise sagte am Freitag in Nürnberg nach der Verabschiedung eines Nachtragsetats, die Behörde rechne bei stagnierendem Wirtschaftswachstum Ende 2010 mit einem Defizit von sechs bis sieben Milliarden Euro.

Der Verwaltungsrat der Behörde ist uneins darüber, ob der Bund über einen Tilgungsfonds oder die Rückkehr in die Defizithaftung für diesen Fehlbetrag aufkommen soll. „Ich würde die Zahlen nicht als gegeben annehmen, sie können schlechter werden, sie können aber auch besser werden, wenn wir gegensteuern“, kommentierte Weise das Defizit-Szenario.


Posted by: brussel on 13 Feb 09

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