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The UN fails to protect the weak and a change to the Security Council veto is not enough to fix that

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is misguided in his belief that curbing the Security Council veto would stop wars. UN agencies themselves are replete with backroom politicking, tedious bureaucracy and a deepening schism at their heart.

The idea that a veto from any permanent member of the Security Council is bound to torpedo any sensible efforts to bring sustainable peace and security, whether in the occupied Palestinian territories or in Syria, Iraq and other war-stricken countries, sums up the impotence, ineptitude and undemocratic nature of these global institutions. How many resolutions spoke about Palestinians' rights to self-determination, independence, sovereignty and statehood? How many resolutions demanded cessation of hostilities in Syria and Libya - only to be ignored by warring factions?

This could not be more evident than in the recent Amnesty International report, accusing the wealthiest nations of showing a near-absence of responsibility in the global refugee crisis.

Countries like Jordan are shouldering the heavy burden of hosting refugees, while a rich country like the UK hosts less than 1% of the world's refugees.

What is urgently needed is a reform of global institutions, to enhance their resilience and preparedness to withstand mega-crises and global threats and to help countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Kenya act as buffer zones to stop the ghastly avalanche of refugees taking perilous journeys and bring security, integration and sustainable peace to war-ravaged countries.


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Is Dodds only worried about saving his job?

IT'S rich of the DUP's Nigel Dodds (News, October 5) to get worked up about three parliamentary seats in Belfast, when it's his party that helped railroad through the new city boundaries which have caused there to be only a case for three seats in Belfast.

Is it a case of "he doth protest too much". Or does he finally have buyer's remorse - now that his own job is on the line - not merely the interests of the people of Belfast?

This sudden interest in widening the borders of the city comes across to me as being nothing more than craven political self-preservation.

Perhaps, if he spent more time worrying about the people of Belfast and less about courting the Conservatives at champagne receptions, he might have a chance of winning one of the new Belfast seats.



Brexit means we are out - plain and simple

THERE is no such thing as 'hard' or 'soft' Brexit.

This terminology is being promoted by those who favour what I would call 'phoney Brexit' - ie a position where we do not regain control of our laws and our border, or rediscover the power to make our own trade deals.

The referendum was a simple question: in or out?

Theresa May herself states: "There is no such thing as a choice between 'soft Brexit' and 'hard Brexit'. This line of argument - in which 'soft Brexit' amounts to some form of continued EU membership and 'hard Brexit' is a conscious decision to reject trade with Europe - is simply a false dichotomy. And it is one that is too often propagated by people who, I am afraid to say, have still not accepted the result of the referendum."

As she simply put it: "Brexit means Brexit."



No need to desecrate Heaney's homeland

THE opening of HomePlace in Bellaghy presents an exciting opportunity to celebrate the life of a literary giant, while giving the local economy a boost.

Nothing new in this strategy, though there is a great deal which is unique about Bellaghy, thanks to Lough Beg, a wetland whose beauty and supreme importance to wildlife is recognised internationally and, of course, the man himself.

In England, Stratford-upon-Avon has been developed into a world-class destination by carefully preserving homes and places linked with William Shakespeare; set in a peaceful valley, amid undulating pastures, his birthplace annually attracts 5.5 million tourists.

Imagine the difference just 1% of this number of visitors would make to the economy of Bellaghy, Castledawson and Toome.

Imagine, also, the international outrage that would follow an announcement to build a motorway through Shakespeare's home place. This is what supporters of the A6 'Red Variant' route are willing to see done to Mossbawn, the Heaney family homestead.

Aughrim Hill, Lagans Road, The Creagh, The Sluggan, The Strand at Lough Beg and numerous other local place-names are world-famous now thanks to Seamus Heaney's poems, such as Mid-term Break and Death of a Naturalist.

If ever these historic places are set upon by 32,000 vehicles per day, 24/7 (current official estimate), because of the Government's preferred 'Red Variant' route, they will all be forever transformed into places with no special appeal.

Another Heaney home lost, another own goal for tourism.

Will we ever learn? Will we not even listen to the great man himself?

Contrary to statements widely reported in the media, Seamus Heaney called these plans "a desecration", "an ecological wound" to a "precious corner of our planet". He called Lady Moyola, the patron of a local conservation group, the "guardian of the wetlands". And he regarded families that were "taking thought and taking care" of the wetlands at Lough Beg for future generations deserving of high praise.

He said: "In doing so, they make themselves examples at local level of what has to happen globally - they are helping the earth's immunity system to contend with dangers it now faces everywhere."

Standing outside HomePlace last week, I was not opposing a wonderful, new tourist attraction nor improvement to the A6. It is the 'Red Variant' that I am opposed to - not the road. I was 'routing' for Seamus.

A wiser, more sustainable solution must exist. One that does not cause serious and irreversible harm to one of Europe's great wetlands and desecrate the landscape Heaney pined for.


Killough, Co Down

Belfast Telegraph


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