57,510 research outputs found

    Reforming the United Nations

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    The thesis deals with the financial crisis that the United Nations faced starting in 1985 when the US Congress decided to withhold a significant part of the US contribution to the UN regular budget in order to force a greater say for the major contributors on budgetary issues, budgetary restraint and greater efficiency. The UN responded by the adoption of resolution 41/213 of 19 December 1986 that was based on the recommendations of a Group of High-level Intergovernmental Experts ("G-18") set up a year earlier. A new system was introduced regarding the formulation of the regular budget of the United Nations Organisation and a broader process of reform was initiated including a restructuring of the Secretariat and of the intergovernmental machinery in the economic and social fields. After an introductory chapter (Chapter I), the thesis examines the UN problems at the budgetary/financial and administrative/structural levels, the solutions proposed from within and without the United Nations established framework and the actual attempts at reform (Chapters II and ifi). The realisation that the implementation of reforms is rather disjointed and often unsuccessful (e.g. the failure to restructure the intergovernmental machi.neiy) prompts a search for the deeper causes of the UN problems at the political level and the attitudes of the main actors, namely the USA, the USSR, some up-and-coming states, notably Japan, the Third World states and, finally, of the UN Secretary-General and the Secretariat (Chapter 1V). Although the financial crisis may have subsided since 1988 and the USA seem committed to paying up their dues, the deeper UN crisis of identity has not been resolved and is expected to resurface if no bold steps are taken. In that direction, some possible alternative courses for the UN in the future are discussed drawing upon theory and practice (Chapte

    La gestación subrogada: análisis ético y jurídico = Surrogacy: ethical and legal analysis

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    La gestación subrogada es aquella técnica de reproducción asistida, prohibida en España, a través de la cual una mujer se compromete mediante contrato previo a gestar un bebe en su vientre y a entregárselo en el momento del nacimiento a otra persona o pareja. Desde un punto de vista genético podemos diferenciar entre gestación subrogada parcial, donde la gestante aporta sus óvulos siendo así también la madre biológica del niño, o total, cuando los óvulos provienen de la madre de intención o en su defecto de una donante. También, desde una perspectiva económica, podemos distinguir entre gestación subrogada altruista, cuando la gestante no percibe ningún beneficio económico, o comercial, cuando si lo percibe. Los argumentos éticos en contra de esta técnica más frecuentes son la explotación, la comercialización, la cosificación, el abuso de poder y el daño psicológico. Por otro lado, los argumentos favorables más comunes son la autonomía y libertad, el derecho a reproducirse y a elegir como y la ayuda proporcionada a personas infértiles o que no pueden tener hijos biológicos de forma natural por otros motivos. La gestación subrogada queda regulada en España expresamente por el artículo 10 de la LTRHA, que la prohíbe, por la DGRN y por múltiple jurisprudencia tanto española como del TEDH y del TJUE, e indirectamente por la Ley 20/2011 del Registro Civil, al regular cómo se deben realizar los asientos en el Registro Civil español a que den lugar las relaciones de Derecho internacional privado

    Epistemologies of possibility: social movements, knowledge production and political transformation

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    Urgent global problems - whether military conflicts, economic insecurities, immigration controls or mass incarceration-not only call for new modes of political action but also demand new forms of knowledge. For if knowledge frameworks both shape the horizons of social intelligibility and chart t he realms of political possibility, then epistemological interventions constitute a crucial part of social change. Social movements play a key role in this work by engaging in dissident knowledge practices that open up space for political transformation. But what are the processes and conditions through which social movements generate new ways of knowing?'What is politically at stake in the various knowledge strategies that activists use to generate social change? Despite a growing literature on the role of epistemological dimensions of protest, social movement studies tend to neglect specific questions of epistemological change. Often treating knowledge as a resource or object rather than a power relation and a social practice, social movement scholars tend to focus on content rather than production, frames rather than practices, taxonomies rather than processes. Missing is a more dynamic account of the conditions, means and power relations through which transformative knowledge practices come to be constituted and deployed. Seeking to better understand processes of epistemological transformation, this thesis explores the relationship between social movements, knowledge production and political change. Starting from an assumption that knowledge not only represents the world, but also works to constitute it, this thesis examines the role of social movement knowledge practices in shaping the conditions of political possibility. Drawing from the context of grassroots queer, transgender and feminist organizing around issues of prisons and border controls in North America, the project explores how activists generate new forms of knowledge and forge new spaces of political possibility. Working through a series of concepts-transformation, resistance, experience, co-optation, solidarity and analogy - this thesis explores different ways of understanding processes of epistemological change with in social movement contexts. It considers processes that facilitate or enable epistemological change and those that limit or prohibit such change. Bringing together a range of theoretical perspectives, including feminist, queer, critical race and post-structuralist analyses, and drawing on interviews with grassroots activists, the thesis explores what is politically at stake in the different ways we conceptualise, imagine and engage in processes of epistemological change

    3D printed Microneedles for Transdermal Drug Delivery

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    3D printing is a revolutionary manufacturing and prototyping technology that has altered the outlooks of numerous industrial and scientific fields since its introduction. Recently, it has attracted attention for its potential as a manufacturing tool for transdermal microneedles for drug delivery. In the present thesis, the 3D printability of solid and hollow microneedles via photopolymerisation-based 3D printing was investigated, aiming at establishing robust manufacturing strategies for reproducible, mechanically strong and versatile microneedles. The developed microneedles were employed as drug delivery systems for the treatment of diabetes via insulin administration. Solid microneedles featuring different geometries were designed and 3D printed. It was demonstrated that the printing and post-printing parameters affected the printed quality, a finding that was employed to optimise the manufacturing strategy. Microneedle geometry was also found to have an impact on the piercing and fracture behaviour; however all microneedle designs were found to be mechanically safe upon application. The solid microneedles were subsequently coated with insulin-polymer films, using a 2D inkjet printing technology. The coating process achieved spatial control of the drug deposition, with quantitative accuracy. The microneedle geometry was shown to influence the morphology of the coating film, an effect that was pronounced during in the in vitro delivery studies of insulin to porcine skin. Furthermore, hollow microneedles were designed and 3D printed, featuring different heights. Two photopolymerisation-based technologies were studied, and their performance was compared. The key influential parameters of the printing outcome and microneedle quality were identified to be the printing angle and the size of the microneedle opening. The hollow microneedles were found to be effective in piercing porcine skin without structural damaging. The hollow microneedles were incorporated into complex patches with internal microfluidic structures for the provision and distribution of drug-containing solutions. The developed complex hollow microneedle patches were coupled with a microelectromechanical system to create a novel platform device for controlled, personalised transdermal drug delivery. Advanced imaging techniques revealed that the device achieved distribution of the liquid within porcine skin tissue without the creation of depots that would delay absorption. The device was evaluated for its efficacy to transdermally deliver a model dye and insulin in vitro. In vivo trials were also conducted using diabetic rodents, with the device achieving faster onset of insulin action and sustained glycemic control, in comparison to subcutaneous injections. Overall, the findings of the present research are anticipated to elucidate key problematic areas associated with the application of 3D printing for microneedle manufacturing and propose feasible solutions. The outermost goal of this work is to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field of 3D printed transdermal drug delivery systems, in order to bring them one step closer to their adoption in the clinical setting

    Speciation of organoarsenicals in aqueous solutions by Raman spectrometry and quantum chemical calculations

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    .Knowledge about the existence and stability of different species of organoarsenicals in solution is of the most significant interest for fields so different as chemical, environmental, biological, toxicological and forensic. This work provides a comparative evaluation of the Raman spectra of four organoarsenicals (o-arsanilic acid, p-arsanilic acid, roxarsone and cacodylic acid) in aqueous solutions under acidic, neutral and alkaline conditions. Speciation of some of these organoarsenicals is possible by Raman spectrometry at different selected pHs. Further, we examine the proficiency of computational chemistry to obtain the theoretical Raman spectra of the four organoarsenicals compounds. To this end, we employ a computational protocol that includes explicit water molecules and conformational sampling, finding that the calculated organoarsenicals spectra agree reasonably well with those experimentally obtained in an aqueous solution in the whole pH range covered. Finally, we highlight the effectiveness of quantum chemical calculations to identify organoarsenicals in an aqueous solution.S

    Modelling extraterrestrial habitability, biomass and biosignatures through the bioenergetic lens

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    In order to survive, evolve and thrive, life requires a biologically useful supply of energy and nutrients. While there is evidence for both throughout the solar system and beyond, quantifying the energetic threshold at which a given environment can be described as habitable remains difficult. This thesis explores how power (energy per unit time) can be used as a habitability predictor in extraterrestrial environments. The behaviour of life is simplified into a series of chemical processes which use energy and nutrients to create and maintain complexity — order from disorder — all while obeying the fundamental laws of thermodynamics. Crucially, the underlying thermodynamics of biology is split into two clear habitability-defining terms: the available power supply and the power demand posed by the environment. We developed a new computational model for assessing the energetic and nutrient availability of the weakly constrained environments that are typical of astrobiology, astronomy and planetary science. NutMEG [Nutrients, Maintenance, Energy and Growth] can be used to estimate how much biomass an environment could provide were it exposed to life and how a microbial community might affect the local chemistry. We used the model to characterise the behaviour of methanogens in optimal conditions, and examine how the predictions change in energy- or nutrient-limited settings. For this application, NutMEG was configured to replicate methanogen growth behaviour from laboratory data available in the literature. As temperature rises from 280 to 330 K, NutMEG predicts exponential drops in final biomass (109–106 cells/L) and total methane production from a growth cycle (62–3 μM) despite an increase in peak growth rates (0.007–0.14 /hr). This owes to the increasing cost of survival diverting energy away from growth processes. Restricting energy and nutrients exacerbates this trend. With minimal assumptions NutMEG can reliably replicate microbial growth behaviour, but better understanding of the synthesis and maintenance costs life must overcome in different extremes is required to improve its results further. We used NutMEG to examine the habitability of Enceladus’ subsurface ocean. The oceanic composition is difficult to characterise with current data and estimates are highly dependent on model-based interpretations, informed by Cassini measurements, which are also not yet tightly constrained. In light of these ambiguities, we considered a wide selection of parameter spaces to quantify the available energy for putative methanogens on Enceladus. We estimated the spontaneous power supply their metabolism could provide and compared it to expected power demands in order to map the icy moon’s habitability. On the one hand, Enceladus’ parameter space contains pockets in which life could thrive. On the other, there are swathes of the parameter space which appear uninhabitable. Enceladean habitability appears to be a delicate balance between the ocean’s temperature, pH, salinity and concentrations of carbonates, nutrients and dissolved gases (particularly H2); many of which are co-dependent. Variation in any one of these can tip the balance into uninhabitable conditions. These results do not aim to be pessimistic, but reflect how astrobiologists should be cautiously pragmatic in their approach to calculating the theoretical habitability of bodies which are not yet well characterised. Finally, we extend this to explore the energetic controls on possible biomass and biosignatures on Enceladus. Peak methanogenic growth rates and biomass estimates for the ocean’s parameter space are defined, ranging from completely devoid of life to bustling with biology. We then consider hydrothermal activity as a source of hydrogen and carbon dioxide and quantify how this could improve methanogens’ chances of survival in Enceladus’ ocean. Using measurements from the Cassini mission and predictions of hydrothermal productivity we constrain the levels of biomass which could be supported in the bulk ocean in a steady state and discuss whether associated biosignatures could be detectable with future instruments. Much of the ocean is inflexible to small changes in biological behaviour, implying that methanogens fitting neatly into such conditions is improbable. However, some pockets of the parameter space at pH 8.5–9 are flexible, and tantalisingly coincide with the current best estimate of bulk ocean pH. In such regions, methanogens could occupy habitable niches in an ocean which behaves as-observed with biomasses of up to ∼10^10 cells/L, but this requires such life to be near the H2 source. Whether biosignatures could be detectable via an amino acid chirality analysis depends on the temperature of the habitat and the flow of material through the ocean, neither of which are understood well enough to draw concrete conclusions yet. At hydrothermal temperatures >370 K these biosignatures decay within months, but in the cool bulk ocean they could be preserved for millennia
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