Friday, November 20, 2009

Queen's Speech to British Parliament: Good Governance in Action

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Wednesday 18 November 2009
Queen’s Speech 2009
Transcript of Her Majesty’s Most Gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 18 November 2009.

Read the transcript
[Check against delivery]

My Lords and members of the House of Commons.

My Government’s overriding priority is to ensure sustained growth to deliver a fair and prosperous economy for families and businesses, as the British economy recovers from the global economic downturn. Through active employment and training programmes, restructuring the financial sector, strengthening the national infrastructure and providing responsible investment, my Government will foster growth and employment.

My Government will also strengthen key public services, ensuring that individual entitlements guarantee good services, and will work to build trust in democratic institutions.

My Government will seek effective global and European collaboration through the G20 and the European Union to sustain economic recovery and to combat climate change, including at the Copenhagen summit next month.

The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to our visit to Bermuda and our State Visit to Trinidad and Tobago and to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in this, the Commonwealth’s 60th anniversary year. We also look forward to receiving the President of South Africa next year.

My Government will continue to reform and strengthen regulation of the financial services industry to ensure greater protection for savers and taxpayers. Legislation will be brought forward to enhance the governance of the financial sector and to control the system of rewards.

As the economic recovery is established, my Government will reduce the budget deficit and ensure that national debt is on a sustainable path. Legislation will be brought forward to halve the deficit.

My Government will introduce a Bill to enable the wider provision of free personal care to those in highest care need.

Legislation will be brought forward to introduce guarantees for pupils and parents to raise educational standards.

My Government will legislate to protect communities by ensuring that parents take responsibility for their children’s antisocial behaviour and by tackling youth gang crime.

My Government will introduce a Bill to ensure the communications infrastructure is fit for the digital age, supports future economic growth, delivers competitive communications and enhances public service broadcasting.

Legislation will be introduced to support carbon capture and storage and to help more of the most vulnerable households with their energy bills.

My Government will respond to proposals for high-speed rail services between London and Scotland.

Legislation will be introduced to protect communities from flooding and to improve the management of water supplies.

My Government is committed to ensuring everyone has a fair chance in life and will continue to take forward legislation to promote equality, narrow the gap between rich and poor and tackle discrimination. The Bill would also introduce transparency in the workplace to help address the differences in pay between men and women.

My Government will continue to enshrine in law its commitment to abolish child poverty by 2020.

My Government will legislate to provide agency workers with the right to be treated equally with permanent staff on pay, holidays and other basic conditions.

Legislation will continue to be taken forward on constitutional reform. My Government will also publish draft legislation on proposals for a reformed second chamber of Parliament with a democratic mandate.

A Bill will be introduced to strengthen the law against bribery.

My Government will continue to work closely with the devolved administrations in the interests of all the people of the United Kingdom. My Government is committed to the Northern Ireland political process and will continue to work with Northern Ireland’s leaders to complete the devolution of policing and justice and to ensure its success.

In Scotland, my Government will take forward proposals in the Final Report of the Commission on Scottish Devolution. My Government will continue to devolve more powers to Wales.

Members of the House of Commons.

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and members of the House of Commons.

My Government will work for security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and Pakistan and for peace in the Middle East.

Legislation will be brought forward to ban cluster munitions.

My Government will work towards creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, including addressing the challenges from Iran and North Korea.

Draft legislation will be published to make binding my Government’s commitment to spend nought point seven per cent of national income on international development from 2013.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and members of the House of Commons.

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

Tags: Queen, Queen's Speech, Queen's Speech 2009, State Opening of Parliament

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ethio-US relations 106 Years

Dear Patriotic Ethiopians and Global Friends of Ethiopia:

Re: Chartering an improving Ethio-US Relations, a visit by a sitting US President to Ethiopia is a possibiliity!

As part of an effort to make our upcoming meetings more user-friendly and relevant in the context of Ethio-US relations and the role of this August Body to make a substantial input in this evolving and continuously improving relationship, it is critical we base all our efforts on research, and evidence based facts to charter a better future.

We need to review the attached history that was published in Ethiopia following the recent diplomatic and strategic visit of a third of Ethiopian Cabinet with their counterparts led by the Foreign Ministers Mesfin and Clinton respectively for Ethiopia and USA.

This result did not come in a day. It took some 106 years of deliberate and intelligent communications that was started during the reign of Emperor Menelik II and President Theodore Roosevelt. As we charter the future, we need to honor those before us who created this august and unique relationships over the time.

We need to engage all our Diaspora to be educated with facts and not fantasy and build on this historic relationship and not squander it.

As Ethiopia is deliberating on building wealth and prosperity, let us say goodbye to poverty with education and competitive enterprises and not depend on hand outs and perpetual poverty reduction mantra. We cannot reduce poverty, but build wealth and prosperity with education, technology and the spirit of competitiveness based on free market and good governance.

Surely, we have to contribute in the wealth creation effort by bridging the gap between our two sister countries. The recent visit by Prof Andreas and Tase is an excellent example on which to build.

The road map is being chartered and we need people to walk on it so that it becomes a super high way. Ethiopia has also to open up the Internet, and Information High way to make the connection with development like the Chinese have done.

As I listen to President Obama visiting China and making all these great remarks, I wonder, when will he visit Addis, the home of his ancestors and African Union. We just need to work at it, it is not acdeptable to have retired US Presidents coming to addis with their coffers and platitudes like Carter and Clinton did, we need to engage them when they are in power with win-win partnership ventures that would transform our respective nations.

That task is in the hand of the future Ambassador to the USA and this August body, if we work hard on it.

I look forward for your alternative perspectives

Thank you

Dr B

Here is a an important historical fact

More will come

Dr B

Ethio-USA cemented relations will persist!
Wednesday, 11 November 2009

11 November 2009 (No.22)

A. Recent Ethio-US Relations (Mesfin-Clinton Bilateral Meetings)

Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, in his recent visit to the United States of America, said that his visit would be extremely fruitful in touching base on issues that are of crucial importance both to the United States and Africa and in Ethiopia. His counterpart Secretary Clinton on her part said Ethiopia is a country with which America has very long ties, and has, in recent years, developed a very close working relationship on a number of important issues.

B. 1903 Formal Bilateral Relations during Emperor Menelik II and President Theodore Roosevelt

Available documents witnessed the bilateral relationship between Ethiopia and the United States of America was started in the 1903. Emperor Menelik II held nine days meetings with Robert P. Skinner, an emissary of President Theodore Roosevelt for the first time to begin their relations.

C. Treaties of Arbitration and Conciliation on 26 Jan 1929 (Health, Education and Agriculture)

On January 26, 1929, they signed treaties of arbitration and conciliation. The two countries had strengthened their relations. Economic and mutual defense assistances were signed in 1953. Then USA provided Ethiopia with $282 and $366 million military and economic assistances for health, agriculture and education.

D. Cooling down and down graded relations with the advent of the Military Communist Junta

However, their relation cooled down during the Derg regime as USA snubbed the request for increased military assistance. However, the relation has revived since the downfall of that dictatorial regime and improved dramatically.

E. Upgrading relations to Ambassador level in 1992 and improving economic ties.

In 1992, diplomatic relations were upgraded to the ambassadorial level. USA assisted Ethiopia $2.3 billion between 1991 and 2003 and it provided a record of $553.1 million assistance in 2003.

F. Ethiopia as a Classical Strategic Partner and Anchor of stability and Peace in the Continent

Ethiopia is a strategic partner not only for the USA but also for other developed countries. It has been exerting tremendous efforts to peace and stability in the continent. It has also remained a reliable partner of peace loving countries and has been contributing remarkable role in fighting terrorism. Its military measure upon the al Qaeda affiliated extremist group is Somalia was very crucial and unforgettable deed that almost disqualified the revival of terrorists in the Horn of Africa.

G. Upgrading 7,500 Years of Governance to Democracy and Good Governance

The country has been also keen to upgrade its democracy and good governance along with its efforts of fighting poverty. Ethiopia and the United States of America have so many commonalities. It will be helpful if they strengthening their relations for mutual benefit. The recent visit of the Ethiopian Foreign Minister indicates that the cemented relations of the two countries will persist.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 November 2009 )

Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc. 4 Peace & Prosperity
Win-win synergestic Partnership 4P&P-focusing on
5Es: Education+Energy+Ecology+Economy+Enterprises;
V: 571.225.5736; C: 703.933.8737; F: 703.531.0545
Our Passion is to reach our Individual and Collective Potential

From: Belai FM Habte-Jesus
To: EPRDF Support Group EPRDF Support Group ; Abdulhadi K. Ferhat ; Abebe Zewdu ; Alebachew Beyene ; Ambachew Kidanemayi ; Anteneh Tirusew ; Assefach Kahssay ; Awash Michael ; Benyam zerihun ; Besrat K. Tefery ; Desalegn G. Abbay ; Desta A. Abadi ; Dineka Kornma ; Dr. Belay ; Esayes Tesema ; Eskinder Haile ; Eyassu Beyene ; Feisel Aliyi ; Gebrewahid Woldu ; Hailekiros Gebreigziabher ; Hakim A. Mohammed ; Hussein Nur Hassan ; Hussien Abdi ; Isayas A. Abaye ; Melesse Asfaw ; Mesfin Ayenew ; Mowlid Mohammed ; Mulu Assefa ; Mulugeta Tsegaye ; Mulugeta ; Mulugeta Berhe ; Nardos ; Nardos ; Negash Gebremedhin ; Negussie Birratu ; Negussie Wouhibe ; Nigussie Retta ; Omer A.Ahmed ; Rahel Burayu ; Segen Negash ; Shekib Ahmed ; Tekle Haileselassie
Cc: Tilahun Beyene ; Tsehaye Debalkew ; Tutu Hailemichael ; Waka B. Kassahun ; Wolde W. Negusse <>; Yohannes Abate ; Yosef Haile ; Yousuf A. Nassir ; Zeki Sherif ; Zenebe Z. Shewayene Z. Shewayene ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
Sent: Mon, November 16, 2009 3:37:09 PM
Subject: Re: Eprdf general members meeting

Dear Gofta N Biratu:

Thank you for your invitation and your efforts to make us a win-win partners with EPRDF and the Ethiopian New Vision for 21st Century.

I believe it is critical to update the membership about the challenges and opportunities we face at the time when Ambassador Samuel is leaving us.

A. Reviewing the past

A.1 Post Adwa Celebrations (2006)

We had just celebrated the Adwa Centenarry and Ethio-US Relations Centenary, where we had a lot of opportunity to build on the past and charter a new future.

Unfortunately, that did not happen, and our image in general and the Diaspora in particular was in held hostage by few Anti-Ethiopia forces masquerading as Opposition groups, but working for Anti-Ethiopian interests in the Horn.

A.2 Post Centenary US-Ethiopia Relations (2004)

Dr Asefa and his team joined the Ethiopian Embassy at a critical US-Ethiopia relations where we just celebrated the 100th Ethio-US relations and the Diaspora tried to celebrate it without the involvement of the Embassy staff.

I feel ashamed of this fact, as I was in the initial planning stage, and left them when they collected Anti-Ethiopian elements and infront of my eyes those of us, who started the whole show became marginalized.

We then tried to have an alternative one, but it was too little to late. So, the lesson is always take control of your events even as you want many others to join you.

Then came the rather unfortunate scenario that followed the 2005 Elections, where the Anti-Ethiopia forces managed to convince the US Congress and hold rather unfriendly hearings against Ethiopia led by the Kinijit Fiasco.

A.3 Post 2005 Elections

I remember, the Interim Ambassador Fiseha Asgedom testimony at the Africa SubCommittee where Donald Payne, who knew Emperor Haile Selassie and Prime Minister Endalkatchew as early when Blacks were still considered slaves here in the United States and could not vote. Ethiopia according to his own personal naration was a beacon of light and hope for many in the Civil Rights Movement, and yet he had the audacity to favor the ONLF terrorists and Somalia War Lords and Eritrean Terrorist against Ethiopia.

A.3 Post Ethiopian (African) Millennium

Then comes the Alliance and the Millennium Celebrations at the Mall in Washington DC which was a great success. Here again, a young man with few dedicated people tried to take over the planned Millennium Celebrations. This was meant to be a partnership but our group had to give in to a lot of unnecessary restrictions in the way we wanted to celebrate it.

B. Post the Formation of EPRDF Support Group

The EPRDF Support Group came into existent in these critical times, and was able to encourage and be a good example for the mushrooming of Pro EPRDF Forum and Paltalk Networks including the likes of Aiga Network

B.1 The Alliance and its impact to change the tide of history

I believe, the Alliance was the cradle of the movement of Pro-Ethiopians where more than 20 or so organizations put their hats together and formed a unique constituency that will stand for the positive US-Ethiopia relations.

B .2 The Post 2005 Elections Campaign to lobby US Congress and Senate

I would like to remind everybody how difficult it was to fight the HR2003 and all preceeding bills that were Anti-Ethiopia. I could not help but remember people like Prof Mesfin, Dr Berhanu, Birtukan testified against their own country and government with ONLF and Shabia operates. That was the real bottom line (worst point) of the whole exercise.

B.3 The passing of HR 2003 by some fluke Procedure in the Congress

The speeches made at the US congress at this critical moment is worth keeping for history and posterity and lessons learnt.

We were galvanized to ensure that this idiotic Bill HR 2003 would not pass the US Senate. That is where our African American and Jewish American friends completely let us down and Republicans shined in the Person of Senator Einhoff, etc.

I will not forget that Smith and Payne fiasco at the Press Club and the Support Group did a tremendous work and Smith never took up the public space against Ethiopia after that episode where Patriots and friends of Ethiopia faced him head on. He was embarrassed and this was followed by Payne going to Moqadisho against the interest of Ethiopia and the terrorists missed his plane by few feet when they shot at him at the Airport. He has never recovered from that personal embarrassment.

C. Post Senator Einhoff blockage of HR2003

This was the zenith period of Pro-Ethiopia forces. We were proactive, in letter writing, visiting congress and demonstrating aggressively for Pro-Ethiopia activities. The works of Mulie and Biratu and that of Amb Samuel could not be underestimated here.

C.1 The synergy of Pro-Ethiopia forces.

All in all, we are in a better place because of the work of Great Giants amongst us. We need to honor them. I would like to share with you how honored I feel for being a partner with Negusie Wolde Mariam for the excellent work we did at Hager Fiker defending the honor and image of Ethiopia.

I will never exchange this with any thing, even though Negus had to pay the maximum sacrifice of being shot at, at his home and then being taken to court under false pretexts. The work of Abassadors of Fiseha and Colleagues will never be forgotten for eternity.

Our six hours radio was shrank to one hour and we even did a stint in English, Voice of the Patriots and at last changed our studio from 1390 AM to 1160 AM when we had to protect our personal security as the opposition were coming on just before us and after us and we had to stand their abusive temperament and at times insults.

C.2 The mushrooming of Paltalks and our campaign to get funding from Private-Public Sources.

It was the most challenging time, as resources were available but could not be channeled to our campaign and we had to endure so much frustration ~!

C.3 The Diaspora Engagement Group

This is another excellent group that continues to work hard and the recent AAU President Meeting at the Embassy is worth following up!

The future

We need to galvanize our talents and resources and put our money and time on building the Positive Image of Ethiopia as this is the most critical element for investment, development and demoratic diplomacy in the end.

I trust, this is a worth while reading.

More will come as time permits as I have wonderful recollections of the time!

Dr B

Please write your personal recollections to enrich our memory and history!

Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc. 4 Peace & Prosperity
Win-win synergestic Partnership 4P&P-focusing on
5Es: Education+Energy+Ecology+Economy+Enterprises;
V: 571.225.5736; C: 703.933.8737; F: 703.531.0545
Our Passion is to reach our Individual and Collective Potential

From: EPRDF Support Group EPRDF Support Group
To: Abdulhadi K. Ferhat ; Abebe Zewdu ; Alebachew Beyene ; Ambachew Kidanemayi ; Anteneh Tirusew ; Assefach Kahssay ; Awash Michael ; Benyam zerihun ; Besrat K. Tefery ; Desalegn G. Abbay ; Desta A. Abadi ; Dineka Kornma ; Dr. Belay ; Dr. Belay ; Esayes Tesema ; Eskinder Haile ; Eyassu Beyene ; Feisel Aliyi ; Gebrewahid Woldu ; Hailekiros Gebreigziabher ; Hakim A. Mohammed ; Hussein Nur Hassan ; Hussien Abdi ; Isayas A. Abaye ; Melesse Asfaw ; Mesfin Ayenew ; Mowlid Mohammed ; Mulu Assefa ; Mulugeta Tsegaye ; Mulugeta ; Mulugeta Berhe ; Nardos ; Nardos ; Negash Gebremedhin ; Negussie Birratu ; Negussie Wouhibe ; Nigussie Retta ; Omer A.Ahmed ; Rahel Burayu ; Segen Negash ; Shekib Ahmed ; Tekle Haileselassie
Cc: Tilahun Beyene ; Tsehaye Debalkew ; Tutu Hailemichael ; Waka B. Kassahun ; Wolde W. Negusse <>; Yohannes Abate ; Yosef Haile ; Yousuf A. Nassir ; Zeki Sherif ; Zenebe Z. Shewayene Z. Shewayene ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
Sent: Sun, November 15, 2009 8:54:47 PM
Subject: Eprdf general members meeting

Friday, November 13, 2009

Identity Cards and Rating Immigrants the new UK policy of Survival of the Fittest or Government Selection

Thursday 12 November 2009
Speech on immigration
A transcript of a speech on immigration given by the Prime Minister in Ealing, west London, on 12 November 2009.

Read the transcript
Prime Minister:

Can I say, first of all, what a huge pleasure it is to be with two of the best Members of Parliament in the country - Virendra Sharma and Steven Pound - and to thank them for what they do for their constituents, and what they do for the whole of our national life in Britain. We are very proud of what you do.

Can I say also that we meet this morning, in this great hall, in a capital city where over 300 languages are spoken; a city that is one of the most culturally rich places in our world; a city that epitomises the strong values and the diversity that has helped to make Britain one of the most dynamic countries in human history.

Today I want to celebrate with you - Members of Parliament, Councillors, representatives of a large range of different organisations from all over our communities that diversity; and I want to also address head on the issue of immigration.

The case for managed and controlled migration where it is in the national interest - economically, socially and culturally - is a case that I have constantly made. I have never agreed with the lazy elitism that dismisses immigration as an issue, or portrays anyone who has concerns and questions about immigration as a racist.

Immigration is not an issue for fringe parties nor a taboo subject - it is a question to be dealt with at the heart of our politics; a question about what it means to be British - about what are the values we hold dear, the responsibilities we expect of those coming into our country; about how we secure the skills we need to compete in the global economy; about how, out of diversity, we preserve and strengthen the richness of our communities.

And it’s a question which must be seen in its proper context. People who come to this country have made and continue to make an enormous contribution - across the decades, in every walk of life - from business to sport, from the social fabric of our communities to our culture, from our public services to our public life.

Right here in Ealing, Virendra’s own story - first coming to better himself on a scholarship; today representing the people of Ealing Southall as their MP - epitomises the contribution that one person can make to our country, and the benefits of welcoming talented people to our shores who join in with British society, who pull their weight, and contribute to our economy, as seen in thousands, indeed hundreds of thousands, of examples of Great British citizens.

And I believe also that attracting highly skilled migrants with scarce or specialist skills is essential to our continued success and influence as Britain, in the global economy. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks or costs to immigration or that we shouldn’t acknowledge them and do our best to minimise them. The top line about the benefits of immigration disguises significant variation in how those benefits and costs are felt across the country, or across different parts of the economy and society.

You see, if you are working for a multinational company in a growing sector in a big city then a more diverse workforce from across the world is likely to seem like an exciting source of new ideas - and it is. If you work in a sector where wages are falling or an area where jobs are scarce, immigration will feel very different for you, even if you believe that immigration is good for overall employment and growth.

If the main effect of immigration on your life is to make it easier to find a plumber, or when you see doctors and nurses from overseas in your local hospital, you are likely to think more about the benefits of migration than the possible costs.

But if you’re living in a town which hasn’t seen much migration before, you may worry about whether immigration will undermine wages and the job prospects of your children - and whether they will be able to get housing anywhere near you. And everyone wants to be assured that newcomers will accept the responsibilities as well as the rights that come with living here - they’ll accept the responsibilities to obey the law, to speak English, to make a contribution.

So if people ask me, ‘Do I get it?’ Yes - I get it. I have been listening, I understand, and I am now announcing some new changes to our policies. You see, ours is a something for something, nothing for nothing society. In an older world we could perhaps assume that people would accept all their responsibilities as well as their rights.

In a fast moving world it is vital for cohesion that all people in Britain explicitly sign up to the direct responsibilities that come from being part of a community. So, in the interests of fairness, a condition for entry to our home, our British family, must be that you will commit to maintaining all that is best about the country we love.

British values are not an add-on for us - an option, or an extra to take or leave. Those who wish to come to our country must embrace them wholeheartedly and proudly, as we do.

And we must set these issues in their proper context - and we must never stop pointing out the facts. That British society has gained immeasurable benefit from its diversity, from being continually refreshed by new talent and new perspectives, from the confidence that comes from defining ourselves positively by our values, rather than negatively by any hostility to others.

And we must continually remind ourselves also that net inward migration from both within and outside the EU is not rising but it is falling, with the annual figures showing that overall net immigration is down 44% on last year, and with independent migration experts like Oxford Economics predicting further sustained falls. And we must also point out the fact that over the past decades, people who have come from abroad to our country have boosted employment and growth; have filled key skills gaps in both our public and private sector.

I want to ensure, as I will explain later, that we give British people looking for jobs the best chance of filling vacancies that arise as we come out of the downturn. But where there are vacancies that have been advertised here and are unfilled, it is necessary for businesses and for the economy to be able to recruit more widely. So we reject the views of those who argue for an inflexible, arbitrary quota or cap on immigration.

It would deny British business flexibility; it would prevent them from getting the skills that they need; it would prevent employers from filling vacancies; it would overturn our obligations to our neighbours in the European Union; it would damage our economy; it would hurt our public services.

To understand the damage a quota system would do to our economy, we should go back to the American system during the early part of this decade. There was an annual quota for skilled IT workers - seven times that quota was exhausted before the end of the year.

It is this that has led President Obama to say that he will now reform the difficulties in the system. The chairman of Intel, Craig Barrett, said when the quota ran out with most of the year still to go: “These arbitrary caps undercut business’s ability to hire and retain highly-educated people in the fields where we needed to maintain our leading position. Instead of arbitrary caps,” he said, “a market-based approach that responds to demand is needed. Only then will the U.S. be competitive and have the ability to hire the best and the brightest.”

So we favour a tough but fair approach rooted in a points system under which we decide what categories of skills are to be allowed into this country. This combines the flexibility and control that is right, with a continued commitment to strong borders, and the rigorous enforcement of the laws against illegal immigration.

So it’s a system which is positive about managed and controlled migration while ensuring that it serves the national interest; it recognises what we, as a country, need for a successful economy, but it also strengthens our society and our communities.

So under this system, we must continue our efforts, as I will explain today, to equip our people with the skills they need to compete in the global economy. As a result we will, as I can announce today, tighten our successful points system - and I will detail our measures in a minute.

Second, we must understand and manage the impact of immigration at a local as well as a national level - with mainstream funding responding more quickly to changes in population, and the new Migration Impact Fund ensuring that newcomers pay an additional contribution to help ease the pressures that happen to some communities.

And then, third, our new proposals for earned citizenship will now ensure more explicitly that people from outside the European Union who want to stay here permanently must earn the right to do so - not just through their economic contribution, but also by their respect for our values and our language and by their wider contribution to society.

And then fourth, and finally, the measures to strengthen our borders are now more coordinated than ever: our new Border Agency, biometric visas, electronic border controls counting people in and out, ID cards for foreign nationals - ID cards that are designed to prevent illegal working and protect our national security.

Now let me just address the policy points in turn. First, using the Points Based System to target immigration on skills gaps, while at the same time improving the skills of British men and women to fill those gaps for the future.

Two years ago there were 80 different immigration categories which had developed in piecemeal fashion over many decades. Now there is a simple, easy to control, five-tier system, with one of the tiers, for low skilled migrants, currently closed.

We are continually working to improve the management of the system but we believe it is above all the flexibility of the points system which has allowed us to help British workers through difficult times, when it is right to be more selective about the skills levels we need from migrants.

In March this year we raised the minimum salary level and the qualification level for tier one. We required Jobcentre Plus to apply the resident labour market test for tier two, so that no job can go to a migrant unless it has first been advertised to jobseekers in the UK for two weeks.

The changes we have made mean that, from this autumn, local workers will get a better chance, with jobs advertised now for four weeks in local Jobcentres before they are offered more widely.

We set up the expert Migration Advisory Committee to advise on the effects of the Points Based System on the labour market, and while their latest report suggests that there remain skills we need to recruit from abroad, it confirms that we no longer need to recruit civil engineers, hospital consultants, aircraft engineers, ships officers - and so these and other jobs are being taken off the list.

And the report shows that we are able to target the list on narrower, more specific vacancies including certain types of scientist, geologists, critical care nurses, highly specialist trade workers. But as growth returns I want to see rising levels of skills, wages and employment among those resident here, rather than employers having to resort to recruiting people from abroad.

So I have talked with the chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee, Professor David Metcalf, about how government and the skills agencies and the sectors can respond faster in training the existing labour force for the new skills we need.

To date this year we have been taking a further 30,000 posts off the list and over the coming months we will remove more occupations and thousands more posts from the list of those eligible for entry under the Points Based System.

So we are building on the skills strategy which set out the new more tailored programme yesterday to invest in reducing these skills gaps by training up workers here.

And I have asked the UK Commission for Employment and Skills to provide advice in January about national priorities for the skills system.

I have asked the Commission to work with the Migration Advisory Committee to consider removing certain occupations on the shortage list - for example, engineering roles, skilled chefs, care workers - and to link that to the priorities of our future investment in the skills of the future.

As part of this review I have asked the two expert bodies to consult employers, training providers and other agencies to develop realistic timescales during 2010 for when these occupations will be taken off the list.

As the economy recovers, we need to do more to ensure that people with low skills and poor job prospects are helped into work and to secure decent living standards for them and their families. More investment in skills, more help for families with childcare, tougher welfare reform - all will ensure that British people can meet the responsibility to take up work whenever they can but in return ensure their right to be properly rewarded for doing so.

Now our second priority is to understand and manage the impact of immigration at local as well as national level. Whenever there are short-term increases in the numbers of children at your local school, or patients using local GP services, extra resources should of course be provided.

The new Migration Impact Fund, launched earlier this year, requires every non-EU migrant who comes to Britain to pay - on top of the visa - an additional charge into the £70m fund. And this fund is already paying out to provide more teaching assistants and to increase GP cover in the areas most affected by immigration. And I believe it is entirely fair that newcomers themselves should be asked to make an additional contribution, over and above tax, to help the communities that they are joining.

There are concerns in some areas about how social housing is allocated. And I want to emphasise the importance of local councils, following the new guidance we have just issued asking and encouraging them to give more priority to local people and those who have spent a long time on the waiting list - and to engage more closely with their communities in setting allocation policies.

Now this comes on top of a pledge to create more housing opportunities all round - a £1.5 billion investment in housing which shows we are committed to investing through the downturn to continue to build the new housing our communities need, helping to deliver over 100,000 new affordable and, in this case, energy-efficient homes for young families to rent or buy over the next two years.

And then third, we must set out clearer expectations of newcomers who plan to stay in our country for any length of time. It is because we believe those who look to build a new life in Britain should earn the right to do so that we will now push forward the Points Based System to the next stage by introducing a points based test not just for entry, but also for permanent residence and citizenship. And this will enable us to control the numbers of people staying here permanently just as we are controlling the numbers coming in.

So the right to stay permanently will no longer follow automatically after living here for a certain number of years. Instead, as we have said, that after living here for five years, migrants will have to apply to become probationary citizens - and at that point they will pass a points-based test, with evidence of continuing economic contribution, of skills, of progress in English and knowledge of life in Britain.

And of course everyone must show a clean criminal record. The most basic but also must fundamental principle is that anybody who comes here - whether to work, to study, or to live - should obey our laws and pay the price if they don’t.

Now, our position since August 2008 is that those coming from outside the EU who commit any crime resulting in a sentence of over one year will be considered for deportation. But since April this year our position is that those from inside the EU who are convicted of sex, drug or violent offences resulting in a sentence of 12 months or more will be considered for deportation.

And we are deporting an increasing proportion of foreign criminals. For when a mother or father is grieving for a son who has been killed, or caring for a daughter who has been assaulted, it cannot possibly be right for that grief to be compounded by the knowledge that the perpetrator had no right to be here in the first place.

In total we remove 68,000 people from the UK each year, double the level in 1997 - and this includes more than 500 European nationals who have committed crimes. Let me be clear - all newcomers to Britain have a responsibility to obey British law. There are no exceptions. Serious offences will be met by deportation, but even less serious offences will count heavily against progress towards citizenship - delaying or even ending the process.

The second requirement of earned citizenship is that as well as obeying our laws, we expect newcomers to be able to speak English. This applies to workers coming under the Points Based System, who wish to stay permanently and settle their family in the UK. In 2004 we introduced language requirements for citizenship. Now there are requirements for those coming under the Points Based System. And we have set out plans to introduce a new language requirement for spouses.

And we expect that newcomers should not be a burden on the country which has offered them the opportunity to come and make a new life. Those who applied to come here to work and who want to stay must show they are continuing to make the economic contribution.

Those who came to settle with their family must show that their family have made every reasonable effort to support them. This message will be clear: if you cannot achieve the points necessary for probationary citizenship, you will not acquire it. And unlike the current categories, probationary status will be just that - probationary. If after a number of years as a probationary citizen - a minimum of one year but a maximum of five - someone wants to stay in this country, they will have to meet the test of full citizenship or permanent residence - or go home.

Because we believe in a something for something society, under this new system many of the rights and access to public services, which are currently available to migrants early in their stay, will not be available to probationary citizens. They will follow only when newcomers move to full citizenship or permanent residence. That’s the right to post-18 education at the ‘home rate’, the right to permanent social housing tenancies, the right to some social security benefits - saving hundreds of millions of pounds.

But at the same time, we will encourage probationary citizens to demonstrate their commitment to this country and their local areas through volunteering and community service. This will be reflected in the new points system so people will be able to move more quickly towards citizenship when they have made a difference in their community.

This new pathway to probationary citizenship and then to full citizenship shows the clear expectations we have, as a society, of people who come to our country. Clear expectations at every stage of their journey - because living and working here, becoming a British citizen, is of course a set of obligations as well as a guarantee of rights; and it’s a prized asset to be aspired to, earned, and cherished.

Now the final area I want to talk about today is that our systems for managing migration are matched by our continuing work to strengthen our borders: new investment, innovative approaches to meeting the changing demands of what everybody knows is a fast moving world.

More UK immigration staff and equipment are now based abroad, helping of course to stop suspect or dangerous travellers before they travel - for example turning back 240,000 individuals from flights in the last 5 years. Increasingly we require visas from most countries - even just for a holiday - and all our visas are now biometric - not just a piece of paper with a stamp on it, but fingerprint records which allow us to detect those who try to violate the rules and so prevent those who have abused our system from coming to Britain again.

We are also using the new requirement under the Points Based System for all employers and colleges to obtain a licence to act as a sponsor for each migrant - and in return accept certain responsibilities to check on their progress and whether they are following the rules.

This year for example we have inspected colleges approved to sponsor student applications, and we’ve cut the list of approved colleges by more than half, from 4,000 to 1,800 - as well as temporarily shutting down applications for student visas from parts of China where there was evidence of abuse. And I want to thank Phil Woolas, our immigration Minister, who’s done so much to make this a far better system.

Where visa abuses arise, we will deal with them. The risk of abuse is higher in relation to shorter courses at lower qualification levels below degree level. Our universities continue to offer high quality degree and post graduate courses to foreign students; they contribute greatly to universities, and to our research base and to our economy.

I am announcing today a review of student visas - to be conducted jointly by the Home Office and the Department for Business. It will involve key stakeholders, and will report in December.

We will look at the case for raising the minimum level of course for which foreign students can get a visa. The review will also examine the case for introducing mandatory English language testing for student visas other than for English courses. And it will review the rules under which students on lower qualification courses work part-time, especially those on short courses, to look at whether temporary students are filling jobs that would be better filled by young British workers.

To enforce these tougher rules we have more than doubled the number of immigration officers at the border. Last year we set up the UK Border Agency. It is a single force bringing together immigration, customs and visas powers and checks - and last year the agency stopped and turned back almost 28,000 people crossing the Channel illegally.

We have toughened the rules on exclusions and deportations. Since November last year we have issued 100,000 identity cards to foreign nationals.

And the next stage of reform is the electronic border controls, which are already counting people in and out. Not the pointless bureaucratic process which was withdrawn in the 1990s but effective, real time checks of identities against passports or visas, which are then matched against the warning indexes for crime, terrorism and immigration. It’s already led to 4,000 arrests; it’s ensured that those who have been properly removed or deported from Britain, or who have committed a serious crime in their own country, will not be able to enter.

One of the greatest obstacles to dealing with illegal immigration is the refusal of foreign governments to accept back their citizens after they have deliberately destroyed their identity documents. Now, where there is a problem of nationals from certain countries overstaying their visas or working illegally, we will require those countries to accept evidence of the travel document scanned at the border, as sufficient for them to accept back their citizens.

And, as you know, we are stepping up our action against employers who hire illegal workers - sometimes abusing them shamefully, in a way that is completely unacceptable, as well as undercutting people here. And it has caused resentment, as you know, in some areas. So we have raised the penalties for employing illegal workers up to £10,000 or 2 years in prison, and also the penalties for employers who undercut the minimum wage or risk health and safety - and have provided additional money for enforcing these new rules from the Migration Impact Fund.

Many people also feel it’s not fair if agency workers can be used to undercut their pay - and most agree it is not fair that even after months in a job, agency workers can be paid less than staff they work alongside. That is why we are changing the law. Last year Britain took a leading role in negotiating an agreement across Europe that will see agency workers in Britain get equal treatment after 12 weeks in post. And we intend that this law will be on the statute book soon.

So we live in a fast-changing world. Government must change to meet the new challenges. Our immigration system is a very clear example. In 1997 we inherited an immigration system with 80 different categories, a small and old fashioned Immigration Service, a paper-based system for recording entry and exit which the previous government had accepted was unworkable but had no plans to change.

This was a system which was clearly not ready to respond to the new global trends that were already evident. As these new trends continued in our first few years in government, our first priority became to reform our asylum system to deal with the worldwide increase in asylum applications. And as those reforms succeeded and numbers came down, our priority in the last two years, as I have set out, has been to reform our system of entry for working migrants.

The changes I have set out today - the new Points Based System on entry, the proposed Points Based System for citizenship - amount to far more than a different mechanism for handling these difficult issues. Together they constitute a fundamental reform of a decades-old system - a reform founded on the British values of personal responsibility and our civic duties. They are aimed at ensuring our economy continues to attract and retain the highly skilled workers we need, whilst reinforcing the rights and responsibilities of newcomers as part of our community, and the expectations society has of them at every stage. They amount to a fundamental restatement of what we expect of those who aspire to British citizenship and how we intend to strengthen the idea of what it means to be British.

I am proud of my country; I am proud to be British. Everybody here is proud to be British. This is a country of diversity and yet solidarity; of different cultures and yet universal values. And we will always be a country that, whatever the challenges we face, can never be broken by anyone or anything. For we will never compromise on that enduring British ideal - that rights and opportunities will always be matched by clear responsibilities for everyone. That is what a Britain of fairness and a Britain of responsibility means to me. Thank you very much.

Tags: immigration, Migrants, points-based system

Monday, November 9, 2009

Evaluating Good Governance in international travel: The case of the USA

Dear Patriotic Global Citizens:

How does the US fare in Good Governance of international travel? Here is the UK Government Advise on travel to the USA.

Wow, it is very interesting, indeed!

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Still current at: 09 November 2009
Updated: 09 November 2009

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Summary (Tropical Storm Ida). The overall level of the advice has not changed.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)
Travel advice for this country
Travel Summary
Safety and security
Local laws and customs
Entry requirements
Natural disasters
Travel Summary

The hurricane season normally runs from June to November and can affect the whole of the southern USA. See the Natural Disasters section of this advice and Tropical Cyclones for more information.

Tropical Storm Ida is forecast to affect the Gulf Coast region of eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida from Tuesday 10 November. A Tropical Storm warning is in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Aucilla River, Florida. High winds, heavy rain and flooding are expected. Sporadic tornadoes are possible. If you are in the area, you should follow the advice given by local authorities and monitor television and radio for updates.

Human cases of A (H1N1) - swine influenza have been reported in all 50 states. You should check for updates on the US approach to challenging this public health threat and to check the number of deaths, and their location through ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’ at . The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised its Pandemic Threat Alert Phase to Level 6. The WHO website at: has further details. In addition, you should monitor local media reports for any developments and advice. There is a dedicated Swine Flu page onf the FCO website. Guidance about pandemic flu is available through the UK Department of Health at and

Since 12 January 2009, UK travellers to the US under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), which allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit for up to 90 days without a visa, have required an authorisation via the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the US. Travellers can register for authorisation online through the ESTA website at and are advised to do so at least 72 hours prior to travel. Effective 1 July 2009 all United Kingdom emergency or temporary passports presented for entry into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), including transit through the United States, must be electronic passports (e-Passports). The alternative is to apply for the appropriate visa. See the Entry Requirements section for more details.

Violent crime related to the drugs trade is a major issue in the Mexican states along the border with California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Though some foreign nationals have been among the victims in the border region, there is no evidence to suggest that they have been targeted because of their nationality. Visitors to border areas should exercise caution and follow the advice of local authorities.

There is a general threat from terrorism in the United States. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has designated the terror alert status of "orange", or high, for all international and domestic flights in the USA. Definitions of the US terror alert system can be found on the US Department of Homeland Security website. See the Terrorism section of this advice for more details.

Around 6.5 million British nationals visit the United States each year (source: US Department of Homeland Security). Most visits are trouble-free. 1,972 British nationals required consular assistance in the USA in period 01 April 2008 - 31 March 2009 for the following types of incident: deaths (152 cases); hospitalisations (123 cases); and arrests, for a variety of offences (1,534). During this period assistance was also requested with regard to lost or stolen passports (3,228 cases). The majority of cases occur in New York City; the tourist areas in Florida (principally Orlando and Miami); and Los Angeles and San Francisco. You should be alert to the dangers of car and street crime in cities.

We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.

Safety and security


The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has designated the terror alert status of "orange", or high, for all international and domestic flights in the USA. Definitions of the US terror alert system can be found on the US Department of Homeland Security website

Since 6 November 2006 you can carry liquids, gels and aerosols in 3 ounce (or smaller) containers in a small zip-top bag. You should visit for more details about this and other prohibited items.

Given that terrorist attacks have taken place in public areas, there is a risk that you could be caught up if there were other attacks in the future. You should therefore be particularly vigilant in high-profile public places.

We recommend that you also look at relevant US government websites, especially: ,, and and monitor news reports before and during your trip to the USA.

For more general information see Terrorism Abroad.

Political Situation

USA Country Profile.


You should bear in mind the following:

Do not leave your door open at any time.
Avoid wearing expensive jewellery and carrying valuable items in run down areas.
Do not sleep in your car by the roadside or in rest areas.
Avoid leaving items on display in cars.
Try to stay on main roads and use well-lit car parks.
If hit from behind while driving, indicate to the other driver to follow you to a public place and call 911 for Police help.

For more general information see Victims of Crime Abroad.

Local Travel

Severe weather can strike any states at any time. You should keep a close watch of the weather reports.

Road Travel

If you intend to drive then an international driving licence is recommended. If you are on a fly-drive holiday then a UK driving licence is required for each driver. If you have a photocard licence you should remember to also bring the green 'paper' counterpart licence with you. You should also ensure that your car rental insurance covers occupants of your vehicle and any third party claims, including personal injury.

You should learn US traffic laws before coming to the country. For example, both the speed and drink driving limits are lower than in the UK.

It is worthwhile buying a detailed road atlas of the areas through which you are travelling.

Find out the prevailing weather conditions before embarking on a long journey, e.g. in mountainous and isolated areas where there is increased likelihood of snowfall, or in dry desert areas where you may need extra water and petrol stations could be scarce.

In 2007 there were 41,059 road deaths in the USA, (Source: DfT). This equates to 13.7 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 5.0 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2007.

For more general information see Driving Abroad.

Local laws and customs

Do not make flippant remarks about bombs or terrorism, especially when passing through US airports.
Laws vary from state to state, including speed limits and the age of consent. So does the age at which you may legally buy and consume alcohol, but this is usually 21 years.

The plant Khat (or Qat) is an illegal narcotic in the US. You will be arrested and detained with the possibility of a prison sentence if you are caught trying to take Khat into the US.

If you get into any difficulties with US Authorities, you should explain to them that you are a British national and ask to speak to a UK consular officer. For more general information see How We Can Help.

For more general information for different types of travellers see Your Trip.

Entry requirements

The US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit the US for up to 90 days. The types of journeys that are permissible under the VWP include general travel/tourism, certain types of business and when transitting to another country.

Since 12 January 2009, the US requires all those travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme to provide details online at least 72 hours prior to travel. This is known as an Electronic Travel System Authorisation or ESTA. For more information, and to apply online please visit the following website at An ESTA once obtained will be valid for a period of two years, or the validity of the travellers passport (whichever is shorter). At present, US authorities do not propose to levy a charge for this service, although they have reserved the right to consider doing so in the future.

If you do not have Internet access a third party, such as a relative or travel agent, may apply for the ESTA for you. However, you will still be responsible under the law for the questions answered on your behalf. VWP travellers should be aware that unauthorised third parties have established websites which charge for information about ESTA and for submitting applications.

These are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with the United States Government. UK travellers are advised to be wary of such sites and businesses, particularly those that seek fees for services offered. The process, as outlined above is currently free. Obtaining an ESTA should not be confused with the separate requirement, which will continue to apply, for you to provide your airline or carrier with details of your passport, country of residence and address of your first night's accommodation in the US.

Effective 1 July 2009 all United Kingdom emergency or temporary passports presented for entry into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), including transit through the United States, must be electronic passports (e-Passports). The alternative is to apply for the appropriate visa.

Applicants arriving in the United States with a non-compliant passport may be required to undergo further processing and/or be denied admission. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may exercise discretion at the ports of entry in cases of medical or other emergency travel. You should consult the office issuing the temporary passport for further advice.

For further information from the US Customs and Border Protection web-site, please visit:

More details are available on the VWP and other aspects of US immigration at the following websites:

US Embassy in London
Department of Homeland Security
US Department of State

If you have any doubts about whether you are eligible to enter the US under the VWP, or about visa matters generally, you are advised to contact the US Embassy in London before your travel. The Visa Information line is 0904 245 0100 (calls are charged at £1.20 per minute).

Please also read the following Questions & Answers:

Do I qualify to travel under the VWP or do I need a visa?

Several million British nationals travel to the US annually under the VWP without any problems. Only people described as a "British Citizen" on the photo page in their passport qualify to enter the US under the VWP. If you are described as a "British Subject", "British National (Overseas)", "British Overseas Territories Citizen", "British Dependent Territories Citizen", "British Protected Person" or "British Overseas Citizen", you will need a visa.

You will also probably need a visa if you fall into one of the following categories (Note: this list is not exhaustive).

You intend to stay longer than 90 days
You intend to travel to the US for a reason other than business, pleasure or transit
You are conducting official government business
You have been arrested (even if not convicted)
You have a criminal record
You have a serious, communicable disease (including HIV)
You have been refused entry to the US on a previous occasion
You have been deported from the US
You have overstayed during a previous visit

If you are unsure, or if you think that your situation falls into any of the above categories, you should consult the US Embassy (see above) – you must do this well in advance of any plans to travel.

Does my British passport allow me to travel under the VWP?

To enter under the VWP your passport must contain a machine-readable zone (MRZ).

At the foot of the photo page. The MRZ contains 2 lines of text as letters, numbers and chevrons (>>>). If the area is blank the passport is not machine-readable and you need to apply for a visa.

The new style passports containing a biometric chip and an MRZ are acceptable for the VWP.

My child is included in my passport is that OK?

No - each person entering under the VWP must have their own MRZ passport.

Can I extend my stay under the VWP?

No - US Immigration does not grant extensions beyond 90 days. If you would like to stay in the US for longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for a visa before travelling. For those already in the US hoping to extend beyond 90 days, you will need to depart the US and apply for a visa.

What is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization?

ESTA is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the VWP. It requires the same information as the paper I-94W form that VWP travelerstravellers currently fill out en route to the U.S.

Why is a travel authorization via ESTA required for VWP travellers?

U.S. legislation required the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement an electronic travel authorization system and other measures to enhance the security of the VWP. ESTA adds a layer of security that allows DHS to determine, in advance of travel, whether an individual is eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP and whether such travel poses a law enforcement or security risk.

How far in advance of my trip do I need to apply for travel authorisation?

Applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel. We recommend that travel authorization applications be submitted as early as possible, as soon as travel is planned. DHS realizes that not all travel is planned in advance, and applications for last-minute or emergency travel will be accommodated.

How long is my travel authorisation valid?

Travel authorizations are generally valid for two years, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. A visitor may travel to the U.S. repeatedly within the validity period without having to apply for another ESTA.

Do I ever need to reapply for travel authorisation through the ESTA?

Yes, there are instances when a new travel authorization via ESTA would be required. If you have acquired a new passport or had a change in name, gender, or citizenship, or if the answers to any of the “yes or no” ESTA questions have changed, a new application must be submitted. Also, once the travel authorization expires, a new travel authorization via ESTA is required. Applicants may also update their destination addresses or itineraries should they change after their ESTA has been approved, although this will not be required.

How much time does it take for the system to process my application?

Once a traveller’s application has been successfully submitted online, in most cases an almost immediate determination of eligibility for travel is provided.

If a traveller is approved through ESTA to travel to the United States, does that mean that the traveller can enter the country?

Not necessarily. An ESTA approval only authorises a traveller to board a carrier for travel to the US under the VWP. An approved ESTA is not a guarantee of admissibility to the US at a port of entry. In all cases, Customs and Border officials make admissibility determinations at US ports of entry or pre-clearance facilities.

Do VWP travellers need to bring a paper printout of their ESTA approval to the airport?

No. The DHS will be able to communicate a travellers ESTA status with the carriers, but it is recommended that you print out the ESTA application response in order to maintain a record of your ESTA application number and of your confirmation status.

The ability to Transit Without Visa (TWOV) in the US has been suspended. Those travellers who are passing through the United States ‘in transit’ but are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Programme must obtain a visa prior to travel.

Does my British passport have to be valid for six months beyond my date of departure from the United States?

No, if your passport is not valid for at least six months beyond your date of departure from the United States, it will not affect your eligibility to travel. The United States has an agreement with the United Kingdom automatically extending the validity of a passport for six months past the passport's expiration date. Therefore, your passport need remain valid only for the duration of your stay in the United States.

If you are travelling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program and your passport is not valid for 90 days, you will be admitted into the United States until the date on which the passport expires.

I have a US criminal record - is that a problem?

US Criminal Records are linked to US Immigration databases. If you have a previous conviction in the US; if you have violated your probation; or if you think you may have a US arrest warrant against you, we advise that you consult the US Embassy in London before travelling. Failure to do so may result in detention and/or deportation. Exclusion periods for aliens with previous convictions are as follows:

3 years - After being found inadmissible as an arriving alien.
10 years - Being ordered removed/excluded.
20 years - After being found inadmissible and having previously been excluded, deported or removed (i.e. illegal re-entry).
Life - Aggravated Felonies.

Is dual nationality allowed?

Under US law if you or your children are dual UK-US nationals travelling between both countries, you should travel with both passports. US law also requires that dual US nationals use their US passport to enter and exit the country - those who attempt to travel on their foreign passport risk being denied boarding. Further information can be obtained from the US State Department (see above).

What do I do if I have renounced my US citizenship?

If you have renounced your US citizenship, you should carry a copy of your Certificate of Loss of Nationality when you travel to or from the US. If you do not, you may not be allowed to board your aircraft.

What will happen on arrival in the US?

En route to the US by Air or Sea, a representative will give you a white form I-94 (if you are a visa holder) or a green Form I-94W (if you are a Visa Waiver Program traveller) to fill out before you arrive in the US.

Upon arrival, a US Customs and Border Protection officer will guide you through the inspection process, so have your travel document ready, such as passport and Form I-94/I-94W.

The officer will review your travel documents and ask questions, such as why you are visiting for how long.

The officer will scan up to 10 of your fingerprints and take your photograph with a digital camera.

The officer will tell you when you have completed the process.

Upon departure from the US, you should return the Form I-94 to the Airline or Ship representative as you depart.

The above arrival information can also be found at the US Department of Homeland Security website.

US-VISIT: The US Department of Homeland Security's US-VISIT program provides visa-issuing posts and ports of entry with the biometric technology that enables the U.S. government to establish and verify your identity when you visit the United States.

In many cases, this process begins overseas at a U.S. visa issuing post, where a traveller's biometrics - digital fingerprints and a photograph - are collected and checked against a watch list of known criminals and suspected terrorists. When the traveller arrives in the United States, U.S. Immigration officials collect the same biometrics to verify that the person at the entry port is the same person who received the visa. Immigration officials use this information to help them make visa-issuance and admission decisions as part of the visa application process or entry inspection.

Unlike names and dates of birth, which can be changed, biometrics are unique and virtually impossible to forge. Collecting biomtrics helps the U.S. government prevent people from using fraudulent documents to enter the country illegally. Collecting biometrics also helps protect your identity in the event your travel documents are lost or stolen.

US-VISIT currently applies to all international visitors (with limited exemptions) entring the United States (this includes visitors travelling under the Visa Waiver program).

Are there special considerations for lone parents travelling with children?

Lone parents travelling with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing them travel. For further information on rules for the US please contact the US Embassy in London (see above.)

How do I apply for a visa?

Most applicants for US visas are required to attend an interview at a US Embassy or Consulate prior to issue. The waiting time for an interview varies. The US Embassy in London finger-scans visa applicants.

If you are in the United States and hold either a C, E, H, I, L, O or P visa, you are obliged to leave the country if you wish to renew or change your visa status. For further information, we recommend that you visit the State Department website (see above) for more details or consult an attorney specialising in immigration law.

What can I do if I had a problem entering the US?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has launched the DHS Traveller Redress Inquiry Programme (DHS TRIP). This is a single point of contact for individuals who have inquiries or seek resolution regarding difficulties they experienced during their entry into the United States. For further information, we recommend that you visit the US Department of Homeland Security website.


Medical treatment can be very expensive; there are no special arrangements for British visitors. The British Embassy and Consulates-General cannot assist you with medical expenses. You should ensure that you have comprehensive medical insurance, which includes hospital treatment and medical evacuation to the UK

A (H1N1) Swine Influenza

Human cases of A (H1N1) - swine influenza have been reported in all 50 states. You should check for updates on the number of deaths and their location through ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’ at . The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised its Pandemic Threat Alert Phase to Level 6.

The WHO website at: has further details. In addition, you should monitor local media reports for any developments and advice. There is a dedicated Swine Flu page onf the FCO website. Guidance about pandemic flu is available through the UK Department of Health at and

West Nile virus is common to the USA and there are occasional outbreaks of eastern equine encephalitis (triple e virus) reported.

In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 1,100,000 adults aged 15 or over in the USA were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 0.6% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to the USA and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

For more general health information see Travel Health.

Natural disasters

For details about storms in the United States, please visit

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) website also contains information about how to prepare for extreme weather conditions and what to do if you are told to evacuate. It also provides a useful list of disaster supplies that will help if you live in an area affected by storms and hurricanes.

You should monitor local and international weather updates from World Meteorological Organisation and the US National Hurricane Centre. For more general information see Tropical cyclones.


The West Coast of the USA, including Hawaii and Alaska, is prone to Earthquakes. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) and other scientists conclude that there is a high probability of at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater quake, capable of causing widespread damage, striking the region before 2032. Please refer to the following website:

Wild Fires

Forest and brush fires (wild fires) are a danger in many dry areas in the US, particularly on the West Coast from March to November. The greatest fire risk is during a period of dry weather and high winds, which can cause brush fires to spread very rapidly. You should monitor local media reports about such fires and follow the advice of local law enforcement officials. You should also check with your hosts in the US if you intend to travel to areas which may be affected.

The southwestern United States, especially California, is experiencing a serious drought and brush fires are a major threat across the region. The risk of major brush fires around Los Angeles and all of southern California is very high, especially from August to November. Areas of highest risk are the canyons and hills where dry vegetation and high winds can cause wild fires to move very quickly and threaten property, especially where urban areas abut wild land. Visitors and residents are urged to follow the advice of local law enforcement, especially in respect of orders to evacuate an area under threat.

The following websites can provide up-to-date information on wildfires:


- - the National Interagency Fire Center website


- for general information on wild fires in California

- - includes statewide fire map identifying the locations of fires;

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

A week in the Horn and Ethiopia in the first week of November 2009

A Week in the Horn

Minister Seyoum opens the 17th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (I.C.E.S.)
An Ahlu Sunna conference in Nairobi while Al-Shabaab threatens to spread terrorism
EASBRIG Ministers and Chiefs of Staff meet in Addis Ababa
A successful Kenya-Ethiopia cross-border meeting in Moyale
Ethiopia elected to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee
The Code of Conduct for Political Parties: A landmark for peace and democracy in Ethiopia
Minister Seyoum opens the 17th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (I.C.E.S.)

The Seventeenth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies has been held in Addis Ababa this week. This meeting is the Golden Jubilee of the I.C.E.S. whose first meeting was held in Rome in 1959 with just over 30 scholars attending, only one from Ethiopia. This is the fifth time the Conference has been held in Addis Ababa, the other meetings being in 1966 (3rd Conference), 1984 (8th), 1991 (11th) and 2000(14th). Hundreds of scholars from Ethiopia and from all over the world now attend what has become easily the largest and most important meeting of Ethiopian studies.

Foreign Minister Seyoum spoke at the opening of this week's meeting, held at the Akaki Campus of Addis Ababa University, welcoming delegates to the Conference's Golden Jubilee. He noted that delegates to the I.C.E.S. Meetings had seen many changes in Ethiopia over the half-century, most notably since 1991 with the introduction of a democratic constitution and a federal government founded on universal democratic values and norms, the basis of the new Ethiopia.

Looking back eighteen years, the minister noted there had then been uncertainty, even apprehension, about the future of Ethiopia as it became obvious the country could not continue with its former relationship between the centre and the regions, and the lack of rights and privileges for the nationalities and peoples of the state. Today, he stressed, things were very different. Ethiopia was moving on a fundamentally different trajectory. It had never been so ready as it was today to defend its legitimate interests, to be a reliable ally to its partners and able to take advantage of the opportunities available.

Certainly Ethiopia would be unable to overcome all sources of vulnerability as long as its democratization is sufficiently broadened and the war on poverty has succeeded. In the economic sphere, growth over the previous six years had been unprecedented in Ethiopia's modern history.

There was no reason why this should not continue. The Government did not claim to have achieved food security yet. It was a daunting task further complicated by the effects of worsening climate change. Equally, the agricultural sector was in the middle of a huge transformation; health and education sectors appeared in line to achieve the Millennium Goals by 2015. There had been impressive growth in tertiary education sector with the creation of new universities. Here, the minister said, involvement of friends of Ethiopia would be critical for quality improvement.

The minister emphasized that Ethiopia could never be properly viable or secure without “high quality democratic government” allowing for full ownership and popular participation, and based on full and genuine commitment to the individual and group rights, the values and principles on which the Constitution was based. The minister said that greater progress would have been made towards the strengthening of democracy had post-election problems not occurred in 2005.

This was a subject yet to be given fair and objective academic scrutiny, but even so lessons had been learnt. One obvious example was the Election Code of Conduct and its Implementation Mechanism agreed only a few days earlier by four of the political parties. This, Minister Seyoum underlined, was an important indication of the development of critical traits such as tolerance, mutual respect, adherence to principles of give-and-take, and the rule of law; in fact, the very foundations of a democratic political culture, the vision driving the Government for the last eighteen years. Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa, or indeed Africa, cannot allow this process to be reversed.

Minister Seyoum said the support of the friends of Ethiopia was critical, even indispensable, to deal with the many challenges the Horn of Africa and Ethiopia still faced. He adduced Somalia, where Eritrea's 'spoiling' behaviour continued to help provide a space in which extremism could thrive, and the way that absolutely anything, however outrageous, might be reported about the region without any loss of credibility. All this, the Minister concluded, emphasized the point that scholars and academics, and legislative and executive practitioners, should work together in good faith to ensure that Ethiopia, its people, and indeed Africa as a whole, could continue to thrive.
An Ahlu Sunna conference in Nairobi while Al-Shabaab threatens to spread terrorism

This week, leaders of Somalia's main Sufi movement, Ahlu Sunna wal Jama'a, have been holding an unprecedented conference in Nairobi to discuss further response to the activities of Al-Shabaab. Nairobi was chosen as the venue to allow Somali Sufi leaders living in western countries to attend as well as those from Somalia itself. Ahlu Sunna's chairman, Sheikh Sharif Muhieddin Eli, described Al-Shabaab as “misguided people who have misunderstood the true values of Islam.” Ahlu Sunna took up arms last year when Al-Shabaab started hunting down Sufi leaders and desecrating Sufi graves particularly in and around Kismayo which Al-Shabaab currently controls.

Ahlu Sunna's chairman says his forces are not a regular army but a force dedicated to defending themselves and other Somalis whose way of life is threatened by Al-Shabaab. Ahlu Sunna which has signed a MOU with the TFG on cooperation between the two parties has successfully driven Al-Shabaab out of large areas of central Somalia.

Ahlu Sunna has partly gained support from the violent punishments being inflicted by Al-Shabaab in the towns they control as Al-Shabaab attempts to impose its authority through violence and the threat of violence. Al-Shabaab militants have recently publicly executed two teenagers as alleged spies; alleged thieves have had their hands and feet cut off. Women accused of adultery have been flogged and stoned; in some areas those failing to wear socks or even bras have been whipped. Men have been arrested and beaten for chewing khat; barbers threatened with death for trimming beards. Local populations have been made to watch the more extreme punishments carried out in public.

Most recently Al-Shabaab has even turned its attention to trying to stop relief supplies from the 'wrong' source. It has banned the World Food Programme from distributing any relief supplies which come from some countries. Sheikh Muktar Robow, Al-Shabaab’s leader in Bay and Bakool regions has told WFP it cannot hand out any foodstuffs bearing US flags and told people “to stop being dependent upon assistance from infidels”. There are over three million Somalis currently needing food aid, and one in five children are malnourished.

Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab has also been trying to emphasize its own strength and importance. Last weekend, it carried out a roadside bomb attack in Las Anod in Somaliland which killed a senior security officer and four others, and a grenade attack in Bosasso in Puntland, demonstrating its reach within Somali areas. It has also now threatened to extend its attacks to a number of countries around. Prominent among them were Uganda and Burundi who provide the 5,200 troops of AMISOM. Kenya and Djibouti have also been threatened.

An Al-Shabaab spokesman in Juba region said on October 25th “we have recently said our fighters will do horrible actions in the cities of Uganda and Burundi, and now we are informing the governments of Kenya and Djibouti to stop offering training to Somalia soldiers or else they will see the consequence in their respective countries.” Djibouti, which has been training Somali security forces, recently announced it was also planning to send troops to join AMISOM. Last weekend Ambassador Robleh, Djibouti's new ambassador to Somalia, submitted his credentials to President Sheikh Sharif.

He was welcomed to Mogadishu by the President who praised Djibouti’s efforts to resolve Somalia's problems and welcomed this sign of solidarity. The President said that if the international community was serious in its statements of support to the TFG to stem the savage attacks of the extremist opposition, then they should follow the example of Djibouti and send their diplomatic representatives to Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab has not confined its latest threats to Kenya and Djibouti. Some of the others in their list include Ethiopia, Ghana and South Africa. The surprise here is because Eritrea happens to be one of the main supporters of the extremist groups in Somalia. It's inclusion in any list of Al-Shabaab enemies appears to be a rather clumsy effort by Al-Shabaab to distance itself from Eritrea, presumably at the latter's request to try and divert some of the pressure for sanctions against Eritrea for its role as a “spoiler” in Somalia.

It isn't likely to carry much weight. Only a couple of months ago, Eritrea leapt to the support of Al-Shabaab when four of its members were arrested in Australia and accused of planning a suicide attack on an Australian army base in Sydney. Eritrea immediately discounted the incident and described the Australian announcement as “a CIA invention”.

There have also been reports this week that a group of senior military commanders from the other main extremist opposition group, Hizbul Islam, headed by Sheikh Hassan Dahir 'Aweys', have gone to Eritrea for military training. Sheikh 'Aweys' himself, of course, took refuge in Asmara in early 2007 and stayed there until flown down to Mogadishu in April this year together with sufficient arms supplies to join Al-Shabaab in their failed joint attempt to seize power in Mogadishu in May.

EASBRIG Ministers and Chiefs of Staff meet in Addis Ababa

The 5th extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers of Defence and Security of the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) was held on Tuesday, 3 November, in Addis Ababa.

It was preceded, on the previous day, by a meeting of the Eastern Africa Chiefs of Defence Staff. The Council of Ministers of Defence meeting was chaired by the Hon. Mohammed Bacar Dossar, Minister of Defence of the Union of the Comoros, and was attended by defence ministers from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, as well as government representatives from Kenya, Uganda, Seychelles and the Sudan.

Ethiopia's Foreign Minister, Ato Seyoum gave an opening keynote address on the daunting challenges to peace and security in East Africa. Somalia, of course, is the most serious and Minister Seyoum emphasized that it had long ago ceased to be a conflict between Somalis and been hijacked by foreign fighters whose agenda went far beyond Somalia and the region.

He noted that the African Union and IGAD has been doing what they could to the limit of their capacity to assist the TFG in Somalia, and praised the sacrifices made by Uganda and Burundi as part of AMISOM. Minister Seyoum said the strong commitment of the region to peace in Somalia and the low priority given to the unfolding crisis in Somalia by the international community was a stark reminder of the need to strengthen regional and continental peace and security mechanisms.

He affirmed the establishment and operational activity of EASBRIG as part of the AU African Standby Brigade was of critical importance. The upcoming Joint Force Training Exercise planned in Djibouti at the end of this year would lay a solid foundation for this.

The goal of a peaceful and secure East Africa wasn't impossible but it required ever stronger coordination and cooperation among countries of the region. In the context of EASBRIG, this had to be done in line with the instructions and guidance given by the Heads of State and Government in the Memorandum of Understanding signed in April 2005 when EASBRIG was established. Minister Seyoum assured the meeting that Ethiopia remained committed to the objectives of EASBRIG and was determined to ensure its success.

The agenda of the Defence Ministers' meeting included the forthcoming Joint Force Training Exercise, the criteria of selection for the secretariat of EASBRIG Director, the rotation of senior positions in the organization and the proposed Revised Policy Framework document, intended to transform the organization's structures, powers and functions. Ethiopia confirmed its participation in the Joint Force Training Exercise starting November 28. It would take full responsibility for transporting its contingent and equipment to the exercise area, and had authorized payment of part of its obligations to the organization.

The meeting agreed, following the recommendations of the Experts Working Group, that the appointment of Director should be made on a rotational basis, following the English alphabetical order of member states. Burundi was asked to submit the names of candidates to the next policy meeting in January.

The Defence Ministers also considered the revised Policy Framework document together with a position paper from Ethiopia which argued that the proposal violated the memorandum of understanding signed by the Heads of State and Government when they established the organization. The proposal provides EASBRIG with a mandate far beyond force generation and preparation, and the Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia, as well as Ethiopia, have expressed objections.

As no consensus has been reached despite two years of discussion, the ministers decided that member states should submit their positions in writing by 17 November, and that the Chair should produce a detailed report explaining the areas of contention, and that the matter be forwarded for final decision to the planned summit in January next year. It is now expected the summit will provide clear and unequivocal instructions on a contentious issue that has been a source of distraction to the organization, and finally close the matter.

All in all, the meetings were very successful indeed, opening the way for further strengthening of this process which has enormous significance for peace and security for the East African region.
A successful Kenya-Ethiopia cross-border meeting in Moyale

Peace along the Kenya-Ethiopia border is a key concern for the pastoralists straddling the border and affected by the lack of sufficient resources, water and pasture, for their livelihood and secondly by the actions of the OLF in the border area. Conflicts between the communities resulting in loss of lives and property have continued no matter how excellent relations between the two countries are.

As a result, various initiatives have been undertaken over conflict mitigation, prevention and resolution by both governments and through the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN-IGAD) and various other agencies. It was CEWARN which organized this latest three day cross-border meeting in Moyale this week, attended by government representatives, members of the two national CEWERU (Conflict Early Warning and Response Unit) structures, local administration officials, representatives of the civil society, peace committee members, community leaders and elders.

The aims were to evaluate the situation along the border, propose a sub-regional peace framework identifying various cross-border initiatives and structures, including existing CEWERU structures, and their focal points, as well as identify ongoing community peace initiatives and inform participants about the establishment of a cross border framework.

The meeting was addressed by the Minister of Federal Affairs of the FDRE, Dr. Shiferaw Tekle Mariam, and Kenya's State Minister for the Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands of the Republic of Kenya, Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Elmi. Mr. Mohamed referred to the Kenyan strategy to deal with inter-communal conflict, on the basis that the sole responsibility of any state is to protect its citizens, that all politicians should spearhead the search for peace, that the communities must change any attitudes, practices and beliefs which perpetuate violence, and finally that the government would put in place a comprehensive regional policy to facilitate collaboration and coordination between neighboring states.

The State Minister also emphasized the need for changing attitudes, cultural practices and beliefs that perpetuated violence. This could be effectively addressed through a sustained peace campaign and education of the local communities. He emphasized the need for states to adopt and implement regional policies to facilitate collaboration and coordination between the neighboring states. With reference to the pastoral regions of the Somali cluster, the State Minister recommended constructive and comprehensive engagement with the communities using the right actors.

Dr. Shiferaw recalled the aim of CEWARN was to be a functional, effective and sustainable sub-regional framework to provide conflict early warning and response and to foster cooperation among the member states of IGAD and relevant stakeholders, enhancing peaceful settlement of disputes and responding appropriately to potential or actual violent conflicts. He emphasized that the Ethiopian CEWERU structures established at national, regional/district and local levels have been trying to address these issues.

Two recent projects have been a program to inform the different CEWERU components of their objectives, duties and responsibilities, and a revitalization of local peace committees in the Somali cluster. This has included the reinforcement of previously established peace committees and the creation of new peace committees at the kebele level. All this, the Minister emphasized, can only succeed if supported and coordinated with counterparts on the other side of the border. So Ethiopia's CEWERU,in coordination with the CEWARN office, has drafted a document on cross-border modalities to include a cross-border framework and a sub-regional council for each cluster. He believed the meeting would be able to create such cross-border linkages.

The meeting concluded on Wednesday with harmonized strategies for peace building initiatives between the two countries and within the CEWARN Somali cluster. It was agreed to facilitate continuous and enhanced information exchanges between the relevant stakeholders, and put in place enhanced mechanisms for early warning responses to conflict, and for conflict mitigation, prevention and management along the Ethio-Kenya Somali cluster. A joint collaborative framework between corresponding CEWERU peace committees is to be formulated. This can be expected to be endorsed at the next CEWARN policy meeting.

Ethiopia elected to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee

Last month, Ethiopia was elected to the prestigious twenty-one member World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The election for twelve vacant seats took place during the 17th Session of the General Assembly of State Parties to the Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, from 23 to 28 October. It indicates Ethiopia’s commitment to both the International Convention on World Heritage sites and their conservation. Ethiopia in fact has the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa. It ratified the World Heritage Convention as long ago as 1977.

There are seven Ethiopian cultural sites on the World heritage list. They include the ruins of the ancient city of Axum near Ethiopia's northern border, the heart of ancient Ethiopia when Axum was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia. The ruins, including the monolithic obelisks and giant stelae date from 100-700 AD.

The second largest of the stelae was re-erected last year following its return from Italy. Other World Heritage sites are the 17th and 18th century castles at Gondar, and the sacred Muslim city of Harar. Jugol with its walls built between the 13th and 16th centuries, and its 82 mosques and 102 shrines and the town houses with exceptional interior design constituting the most spectacular part of Harar's cultural heritage.

There are the eleven monolithic rock hewn churches of Lalibela dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, the prehistoric site of Tiya with its more than thirty carved stelae, and the notable prehistoric sites in the lower valleys of the Awash and the Omo. It was, of course, in the lower Awash valley where remains date back four million years, that the remains of Lucy were discovered in 1974. Ethiopia also has one natural heritage site: the Simien National Park where massive erosion has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 meters and home to some of the world's rarest animals.

Ethiopia's election to the World Heritage Committee coincided with the Golden Jubilee of the International Conference of Ethiopian Studies held in Addis Ababa this week. As has been underlined in the first item of this publication of the Week in the Horn, Foreign Minister Seyoum lauded the significant contribution of the Conferences over the previous fifty years to the study of Ethiopia's long history and culture. Ethiopia's election to the World Heritage Committee will undoubtedly open new avenues to inform the wider global audience of its historical and cultural contribution to world civilization. It is a contribution that the research and studies publicised at the International Conference of Ethiopian Studies will, we are sure, continue to produce in the years ahead.

The Code of Conduct for Political Parties: A landmark for peace and democracy in Ethiopia

The Code of Conduct for Political Parties, agreed between four political parties last week, is a major step forward in encouraging Ethiopia's democratic processes. The agreement was signed by the party leaders: Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Ato Ayele Chamiso for the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP), Engineer Hailu Shawel for the All Ethiopia Unity Organization (AEUO), and Ato Lidetu Ayalew for the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP).

It's the first time in Ethiopian history, political parties have signed up to such a legal framework covering canvassing, voting, mediation, and ways to handle violence and corruption. It is a pre-election agreement and it will be enforceable, underlining the commitment of the parties involved to a peaceful and fair election. A council has been established to oversee implementation of the agreement.

Prime Minister Meles said the agreement opens a new chapter, putting the parties on an equal footing, and he hoped all other parties would follow suit. The Code of Conduct has been widely welcomed by members of the public, local media and by Ethiopia's partners who have been closely following the process.

UK‘s Ambassador, Norman Ling, said the Code had been formulated on the model of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance and was of international standard. It laid the foundations for a successful national election on May 23, 2010 and its main principles allow the election to be free, fair and democratic. Campaigning is due to start on December 8. Ambassador Ling said there was an opportunity for those parties which had not yet signed the agreement to participate in future discussions, and sign up before the Code becomes law.

The four signatories immediately opened discussions with the other registered parties on the Code of Conduct. The first meeting was successful in allowing other parties to enrich the document with their contributions. It was agreed these parties would be given sufficient opportunity to prepare their reactions and these would be discussed at a later meeting to be held at the National Election Board offices under the chairmanship of the NEB. One Coalition of parties designated as Forum has yet to decide if it wants to contribute to this impressive and inclusive initiative or to continue to remain mired in indecision.

The violent opposition and its small supporters predictably have also been upset by the successful achievement of the Code of Conduct and the process which led up to it. Almost all who are committed to the realization of a fully democratic Ethiopia have seen this historic achievement as important political milestone in Ethiopian politics.

Continued elucidation and development of the text for the Code of Conduct is largely being left to the political parties themselves though there will also be some subsequent input from the House of Peoples’ Representatives. It is worth noting that even before it is enacted as law, the Code has already made its mark on the political life of the country.

The process of negotiations over the Code set a major precedent providing an exemplary effort in political accommodation and compromise, providing a real win-win outcome. It sets the tone and a solid foundation for free, fair, peaceful and credible national elections. The significance of four political parties engaging constructively, despite their considerable political differences, and without preconditions, to devise rules to bind themselves and eventually others into the electoral process, cannot be over-emphasized.

Among the most important aspects of the Code and its implementation are the modalities contributing to the building of the institutions of democratic governance in Ethiopia. Foremost of these is the undertaking in the preamble, repeated in the Code's detailed contents, that all agree to encourage respect for the Constitution and abide by its tenets and by the rule of law.

This is emphasized in a number of ways. The signatories expressly agreed to respect the rule of law and to demonstrate respect for human rights. They emphasized the critical contribution they will make to the success of the upcoming election. They noted their responsibility to continuously educate and train the general public and political parties. They also undertook to work together in discharging their common responsibility to enable judicial bodies, organs, the Election Board, the Police, and regional administration provide impartial and independent service to the public.

They highlighted the roles and responsibilities of the National Defence Force, the reserve force and local militia in safeguarding the unity of the people and the sovereignty of the country - the Constitution, of course, enshrines the principle that the Defence Force discharges its responsibilities free from partisan politics. The parties also agreed to work together to make sure that public services provide support in an equal and impartial manner to all parties. Under the agreement proposed in the Implementation Mechanism for the Code, financial support is to be given to all political parties.

The various principles and standards agreed for the conduct of the political parties during the election process amount to real milestones for the growth of democracy in Ethiopia. The parties have codified their ideals of accommodation and tolerance, the need to pursue civilized, democratic and peaceful struggle, as well as good faith and compromise as a foundation for governing. The potential for a radical transformation of political discourse is obvious.

They will base their conduct on the will of all citizens of the country to live in equality, fraternity and unity, and on the determination of the parties to respect the outcome of elections conducted according to the laws of the country. They have emphasized the need to apply the highest standards of conduct and to reject any attempts to assume power through unconstitutional means.

They have stressed the need to strive to ensure respect for the freedom of the press for its critical contribution to human rights, to democracy, the rule of law and the overall development of society. The Code provides for the principles applicable to a multi-party electoral system, and for respect for the law as well as the details of conduct to be observed during campaigning, balloting and collection of results.

The parties have also made a total commitment to abide by the Code and by the related implementation mechanism drawn up to ensure its observance. This undertaking starts with the determination to take corrective measures as soon as any opposition political party raises well-founded claims that members or supporters have encountered problems.

They have agreed to establish a Joint Council as a permanent body with a mandate to implement the Code of Conduct, to resolve any and all problems that might arise during its implementation and to deliberate on ways and means of entrenching democracy, human rights and rule of law. The determination to ensure scrupulous implementation of both the letter and the spirit of the Code is a clear departure from past recrimination and mutual distrust. It means the ground is now firmly prepared for everyone to participate and to enrich a most promising start to next year's election.

It would be remiss of the Week in the Horn if it failed to underline one important point here and that relates to the behavior of the Coalition already referred to which has so far declined to embrace the Code of Conduct. This raises a very fundamental issue with respect to the responsibility for the consolidation of democracy of those who benefit from the existence of democracy and democratic institutions. The Horn of Africa is a region where at present a major struggle is being conducted between two approaches to governance-that based on the will of the people, the rule of law and that which depends on intimidation, extremist politics.

The struggle with respect to which approach would develop and consolidate legitimacy is a major historical challenge faced by the people of our region. It is from that perspective that the position being taken by the various parties in Ethiopia towards the Code of Conduct should be viewed and assessed.