The human cost of Qatar’s migrant policies | 

Doha Construction Site
Doha Construction Site

Revelations of the mistreatment of migrants working on the World Cup sites in Qatar continue to bring forward a larger problem in the Middle Eastern nation.

The AFP revealed on Monday that more than 450 Indian migrants have died while working in Qatar over the past two years. The data comes from a Right to Information request filed by AFP to the Indian embassy in Qatar.

Records show that 237 fatalities in 2012 and 218 in 2013 (through December 5). The rates are alarmingly high, adding to the evidence that the conditions for the more than 1.2 million migrant works in the country.

The Guardian determined that 185 Nepalese workers died in 2013. It’s groundbreaking report in September showed the terrible labor conditions faced by Nepalese migrants doing construction work on new stadiums.  Qatar won a bid to host the 2022 World Cup and is undertaking  a significant construction project to prepare.

Workers face slave-like conditions with their rights severely restricted in Qatar, reported the Guardian. Labor abuses, including working extended hours during the mid-day extreme heat, were attributed to the deaths of some of the workers. The concerns led to attention from the world soccer governing body, FIFA, who condemned the conditions in Qatar. Continue reading

Global Partnership for Education taps former Australian PM to boost funding for education | 

Troy Constable

The global campaign for education snagged a high-profile politician this week. Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will assume the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Global Partnership for Education.

The organization’s model is akin to that of the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, but it has not been able to wrestle the same financial resources.  The Global Fund managed to raise $12 billion in its December replenishment event, short of the $15b requested, but more than the previous $10b.

The Global Fund for Education hopes to also succeed when it holds its replenishment meeting in June.  A public goal has not been made, but the group said that they received $1.2 billion in funding requests in 2013. The Global Partnership for Education has managed to allocate $3.1 billion since 2002, not enough to stave off the 6.3% decline in global aid for basic education between 2009 and 2011.

“I am also alarmed about the recent sharp decline in donor support to education that threatens the progress achieved over the past decade, particularly for girls’ education,” said Gillard at the time of her appointment. “The global community must respond generously to the upcoming call for a renewal of multilateral, bilateral and national financing for basic education.”

Continue reading

Guardian: The lost spirit of Seattle | 

Flickr, djbones

WTO Seattle riots

Remember the Battle in Seattle? Not the movie, but the real event — the 1999 Seattle WTO riots.

Remember what it was all about?

The Guardian’s Latoya Peterson wants to know.

Peterson writes that she ran into an inflatable palm tree in Washington D.C. last weekend, which apparently meant something to a group of protesters demonstrating — to little media attention — against the international trade policies promulgated by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization (WTO).

In a word, globalization. Says Peterson:

Twelve years ago, the nation was captivated by the Battle in Seattle, an anti-globalisation protest so vast that it brought the city to a standstill. The 1999 protests were marked by widespread media coverage, which sparked conversations about the role of the three largest global trade governing bodies – and illuminated how violence can be leveraged by activists seeking publicity.

The arguments back then — I helped cover them and got a dose of tear gas — were based on the complaint by many organizations that multi-national corporations were exercising too much power over poor nations through unfair trade agreements.

The protests were followed by the so-called Doha talks — or, more accurately, the Doha Development Round — aimed at reducing international trade barriers and getting rid of national subsidies (e.g. for agricultural products) that many felt undermined the economies of poorer nations.

As another Guardian journalist recently noted in mystery novel fashion, 10 years on nothing much as happened and the Doha talks appear to be on life support.

Peterson wonders, in print, if the protesters and the media just lost interest:

The discussion of Doha has been largely confined to financial media – a far cry from the public conversation once hoped for by those who took to the streets in Seattle, which they hoped would encourage the barons of international trade to put people first in their policies. And the effects of the debate being marginalised are all too evident: as the small procession continued up the street, most people continued about their daily lives, knowing that the protest, like so many in DC, would fail to create any measurable change.