A girl stands on her hands near Vang, Norway. Svein Nordrum/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS
Norway displaced Denmark as the world’s happiest country in a new report released on Monday that called on nations to build social trust and equality to improve the well-being of their citizens.
The Nordic nations are the most content, according to the World Happiness Report 2017 produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative launched by the United Nations in 2012.
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, along with Syria and Yemen, are the least happy of the 155 countries ranked in the fifth annual report released at the United Nations.
“Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government,” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the SDSN and a special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General, said in an interview.
The aim of the report, he added, is to provide another tool for governments, business and civil society to help their countries find a better way to wellbeing.
Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden rounded out the top ten countries.
South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic were at the bottom.
Germany was ranked 16, followed by the United Kingdom (19) and France (31). The United States dropped one spot to 14.
Sachs said the United States is falling in the ranking due to inequality, distrust and corruption. Economic measures that the administration of President Donald Trump is trying to pursue, he added, will make things worse.
“They are all aimed at increasing inequality – tax cuts at the top, throwing people off the healthcare rolls, cutting Meals on Wheels in order to raise military spending. I think everything that has been proposed goes in the wrong direction,” he explained.
The rankings are based on six factors — per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.
“The lowest countries are typically marked by low values in all six variables,” said the report, produced with the support of the Ernesto Illy Foundation.
Sachs would like nations to follow United Arab Emirates and other countries that have appointed Ministers of Happiness.
“I want governments to measure this, discuss it, analyze it and understand when they have been off on the wrong direction,” he said. — By Patricia Reaney | NEW YORK
(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Alistair Bell)
Resumption of peace talks with Reds awaits Duterte’s go-signal
President Rodrigo Duterte (Cerilo Ebrano/Photoville International)
PHILIPPINES — President Rodrigo Duterte has signified recently his intention to resume talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines if they prove their sincerity to talk peace with the government.
He also laid what he wanted the rebel group to do in order for the peace negotiations to proceed.
These include releasing the rebels’ prisoners of war; stopping extortion activities or the collection of revolutionary taxes, and ceasing the destruction of government equipment.
READ: Malacañang enumerates compelling reasons for the resumption of GPH-NDF peace talks
Meanwhile, Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jess Dureza clarified that these are not conditions since there are no preconditions on the negotiating table.
On the other hand, Government Peace Panel Chief and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the peace talks may be an agendum during today’s Cabinet meeting with the president.
It is also expected that President Rodrigo Duterte will give his directive on the terminated peace talks and the supposed bilateral ceasefire deal.
“Before we resume, whatever the President orders, we will talk about the ceasefire first,” said Sec. Bello.
RELATED: No peace talks with CPP-NPA-NDF until Duterte says so – Sec. Abella
Meanwhile, on the communist rebels’ demand to remove military deployment in areas where they plan to release six prisoners of war, Sec. Bello said the government and the NPA has an ongoing arrangement on the matter.
“That is confidential, so we cannot just reveal things. There is an ongoing arrangement,” he said.
It can be noted that President Duterte ordered to cease the peace talks after several members of the military were killed during an attack perpetrated by communist rebel group despite the implemented unilateral ceasefire.
Due to this, the supposed meeting of both sides regarding a bilateral ceasefire deal in February, as well as the fourth round of the formal peace talks on April 2 to 6 in Oslo Norway were postponed. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News and Rescue
Government peace talks with CPP-NPA-NDF begins today
OSLO, Norway — The formal peace negotiation between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines in Olso, Norway begins today and will run until August 26.
Both parties are hoping to end the four decades of atrocities between the government and the rebel group.
Beginning midnight of August 21, the unilateral ceasefire declared by the government has taken effect and the offensive operations of government security forces against the rebel groups have been deferred as directed by President Duterte in respect to the peace process.
This was announced before the departure of the government peace panel headed by presidential adviser on the peace process Secretary Jess Dureza on Saturday bound for Norway.
“I am pleased to announce that President Rodrigo Duterte has restored the effects if the unilateral ceasefire with CPP/NPA/NDF effective 12 midnight tonight, 21 August, 2016. The duration of the ceasefire will last for as long as necessary to bring peace in the land and also in order to provide an enabling environment for the success of the peace negotiations that will start in Oslo, Norway on August 22,” he said. (ROSALIE COZ/UNTV News and Rescue)
SC approves provisional release of 2 Red leaders
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court en banc has approved the provisional release of two communist leaders.
Randall B. Echanis and Vicente P. Ladlad have been granted temporary freedom to allow them to participate in the anticipated peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway on August 20.
In relation to this, the high court has ordered the two to post a cash bond of P100,000.
Echanis and Ladlad are directed to return to the country right after conclusion of the peace talks. (UNTV/News & Rescue)