A picture shows a child's shoe amidst the rubble of buildings, destroyed by Israeli strikes, in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip on May 21, 2021. - A ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, controlled by Islamist group Hamas, came into effect after 11 days of airstrikes and rocket fire. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

So, it has happened again. Riots in Jerusalem. Random rocket fire and precision bombings, both with civilian casualties. The parties are involved in a spiral of revenge with the goal of exhausting the opponent. The pattern is repeated year after year. The outside world demands a cease fire; mediators sign up. This has been the case throughout my adult life. No lasting peace for Israel, no solution for the stateless Palestinians. Cease fire is fine, but for how long?

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Generous social benefits aren’t enough to change the life prospects of kids from low-income families.

Nordic nations are proud of their social policies—justifiably so. As we know, high taxes fund social security, education, disability, housing and unemployment benefits that reduce inequality and increase social mobility.

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Tunisian security officers hold back protesters outside the parliament building in the capital Tunis on July 26, 2021, following a move by the president to suspend the country's parliament and dismiss the Prime Minister. - Tunisia was plunged deeper into crisis as President Kais Saied suspended parliament and dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi late July 25, prompting the country's biggest political party to decry a "coup d'etat". LEHTIKUVA / AFP

Since the 25th of July 2021, the eyes of many people are on Tunisia. That day, the President of the Republic, Kais Saied, invoked the emergency article of Tunisia’s constitution, dismissed the Prime Minister, froze the activity of the Parliament and lifted the immunity from its members.

A few hours before these decisions, many Tunisians took to the street under an excruciating 40°C midday sun and in violation of the COVID 19 restrictions to express their anger, dismay and dissatisfaction calling for the dissolution of the Parliament.

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Climate change demands a global response

There are many obstacles to the reform of the current world order. Counter-perceptions and ingrained thoughts are so strong that many simply do not care to deal with the problem. The globe is too fragmented, the nation states are strong, and the great powers will never give up their privileges.

The nation states do not disappear, but they should, in their own interest, agree to new rules of the game.

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Human languages family tree, 2014.

When community meetings are held to determine priority development projects in villages, in neighborhoods, in schools, in agricultural fields—wherever they may take place—we want to speak the language that is spoken there, spoken every day. The idea of a person or a community of people exploring what they most want in their lives should be as real and as connected to their notion of "self" as possible.

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Min. Pär Stenbäck, with one of his books on salvation of democracy published in spring 2019

Today is International Youth Day. It should be celebrated as such, but like many of the days designated by the UN, it passes by rather unnoticed. For me, the day, the month and the year have a personal meaning. Thirty years ago, a couple of American friends and I founded the International Youth Foundation, which over the years has become a major player in preventive youth work.

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The pandemic has led to a serious relapse of pure nationalism. This is the diagnosis that now seems to apply. Closed borders, lack of solidarity in the distribution of vaccines, suspicion of nations perceived as `guilty` of the origin and spread of the virus. Maybe all this will disappear when the pandemic is over (when?), Maybe not.

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This photo taken on June 9, 2021 shows students leaving a school after finishing the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), known as Gaokao, in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province. Life has been back to normal in Wuhan for month, while shutdowns continue in the rest of the world. (Photo by STR / AFP) / - LEHTIKUVA

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hanging around in the world for more than one year. Although we have seen some signs of relief, yet it is far from being over. While the whole world is trying to control the disease, everyone is also thinking about and planning for the blueprint for a post-pandemic era economic recovery. 

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Running for municipal elections as a foreigner in a small city near Helsinki, without mastering the language, seems like a bad idea. It isn't if your goal is to improve stuff and not simply to get votes. This might seem like a detail, but it isn't. Professional politicians are obsessed with votes, it guarantees their relevance and salaries. And of course everyone needs to feel relevant, but politics should not be a job. It should be a civic duty and a right, and this must be changed fast if we are to improve politics itself.

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Turkey's opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) members of parliament hold a press conference, to protest against the withdrawal of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, at the parliament in Ankara on May 26, 2021. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

On March 20th, the Turkish government issued a presidential decree nullifying Ankara’s commitment to the Istanbul Convention, the landmark international treaty on the rights of women and girls.

 

"The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, shall be terminated on the part of Turkey.” read the decree, which was disseminated via run media.

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LEHTIKUVA / AFP

My approach to the future of the Middle East is not based on academic research or a long presence in the region. But I can say that the problems of the region never left me, they have always played some role in my life. It started with the Suez Crisis in 1956 when as a young man I was confronted in the news with the British-French invasion of the Canal zone, one of the last gasps of traditional colonial practice, in this and in other parts of the world.

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