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Musings From Abroad

US asks Kenya to strengthen anti-wildlife trafficking laws



As talks to negotiate a new trade agreement between the two countries heat up, the United States wants Kenya to enforce stricter laws protecting the environment and conserving natural resources.

The US is requesting more commitments from Kenya to fortify environmental protection laws and regulations, with a particular emphasis on natural resource conservation, in the third and most recent set of proposed texts in the targeted trade agreement.

“The proposed text includes provisions to address air quality, marine litter, and plastic pollution, to combat wildlife trafficking, to promote sustainable forest management, to conserve marine species, and to prevent the loss of biodiversity,” the office of the US Trade Representative wrote in the summary of its proposals on environment chapter.

“The proposed text also includes provisions on fisheries-related matters, such as addressing illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity.”

In the aftermath of Washington’s introduction of additional texts on combating wildlife trafficking, reducing pollution, and tackling unregulated fishing, the teams negotiating a new trade agreement between Kenya and the US will hear opinions from interested parties.

Groups and individuals will have the chance to offer their opinions on the controversial sections of the proposed US-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership during the virtual public engagement event. This has happened during a period of protests by some lobby groups about the Kenyan side’s lack of openness and public involvement.

Lobbies in the agriculture sector such as Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum and Poultry Breeders Association of Kenya (PBAK) have publicly complained to Kenya’s Trade Ministry for failing to disclose draft texts they have tabled before their American counterparts.

The Trade Department has cited a “confidentiality agreement” with the American negotiators for not sharing the draft text, according to the groups.

“It is inconceivable that draft texts with far-reaching sectoral and economy-wide ramifications can be deemed confidential and hence deny industry players the opportunity to promote and protect their interests during the text-based negotiations,” PBAK wrote in a memorandum to Trade Principal Secretary Alfred K’Ombudo.

Conversely, Washington has been using the USTR’s office to release a synopsis of the texts they are negotiating with Kenya. Between August and September of 2022, the agency solicited public opinions on the planned agreement with Kenya from American stakeholders.

Following their discussions in Washington last month, the negotiating teams are gathering in Mombasa this week for their sixth round of negotiations.

The sixth round of negotiations will centre on advancing and supporting climate change and environmental goals, supporting workers’ rights, improving customs process efficiency, and cooperating on enforcement.

Musings From Abroad

UN joins Sudan’s warring sides with Israel, Hamas in global list of child rights violators



The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Wednesday, added the Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Israeli armed forces, and the warring parties in Sudan to an annual global list of entities that violate children’s rights and are responsible for the deaths and injuries of children in 2023.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council, Guterres also denounced Hamas and Islamic Jihad for kidnapping children and the armed forces of Israel and Sudan for targeting hospitals and schools.

In addition, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces—which have been engaged in combat with the Sudanese military since April of last year—were accused of raping and abusing minors, targeting hospitals and schools, and recruiting and exploiting youngsters.

Last year, a civil war broke out in Sudan between the Sudanese Army (SAF) and the rebel Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which has caused the biggest refugee crisis in the history of the world. In the past few days, the U.N. has been worried that the RSF might soon attack al-Fashir in Sudan’s North Darfur area.

Six serious violations are covered in the study, which was put together by Virginia Gamba, Guterres’ envoy for children and armed conflict. These include attacks on hospitals and schools, sexual assault, kidnapping, recruitment and usage, and killing and maiming.

The list that is included with the report tries to put parties to disputes to shame in the hopes that it would force them to take action to protect children. It only covers transgressions that the UN has confirmed.

“In 2023, violence against children in armed conflict reached extreme levels, with a shocking 21% increase in grave violations,” the report read. “The number of instances of killing and maiming increased by a staggering 35%.”

“The highest numbers of grave violations were verified in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, Nigeria and Sudan,” found the report, describing verification as “extremely challenging.”

After being put to the list last year, Russia’s armed forces and allied groups were still there for targeting hospitals and schools in Ukraine, killing and maiming children. A request for a response was not immediately answered by Russia’s U.N. mission; however, Moscow has consistently denied that it has targeted civilians since its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

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Musings From Abroad

Russia’s Putin described as ally by Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa



Vladimir Putin was referred to as “my dear brother” by Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, on Saturday, who also stated that Russia had been Zimbabwe’s steadfast supporter.

In his remarks at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Mnangagwa commended Putin for upholding Russia’s independence and territorial integrity.

Moscow’s top priority, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is the advancement of ties with African nations during a discussion in St. Petersburg with his Zimbabwean counterpart Mnangagwa,

Putin stated that the attendance of an African leader at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum (SPIEF) indicates a shared commitment to fostering stronger ties.

“it was a pleasure to see our trade turnover multiply over the past year,” Putin said.

“Zimbabwe considers the Russian Federation as a consistent global ally,” Mnangagwa said on a stage shared by Putin in St Petersburg. “Strength lies in our unity, adaptability and innovation.”

“It is regrettable and unacceptable that the collective West continues to peruse hegemonic tendencies that blatantly violate the sovereign equality of nations, justice and fairness,” Mnangagwa told the forum.

Mnangagwa called for an end to sanctions on his own country that he said were imposed for the “crime” of Zimbabwean people claiming their own land.
Still Zimbabwe, he said, was “open for business”.

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