Monthly Archives: May 2005
Selected summary of United Nations related news and events
UN News Service: “Four Central Asian countries which have suffered a dramatic increase in HIV infection rates in recent years today launched a nearly $27 million project to lessen the human and economic impact of the pandemic … At a project launch workshop, whose organizers included the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Bank, representatives of the four countries signed agreements for a $25 million grant from the Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and a 1 million pound sterling grant from the Department for International Development (DfID) in the United Kingdom.”
Digby: “On the UN Foundation’s blog UN Dispatch, Peter Daou took issue with Roger Simon’s obsessing over the Oil For Food program, while never having a kind word to say about the good things the United Nations does around the world. The right blogosphere is incensed that he would dare to tell a blogger what he should blog about, and besides the oil for food scandal is, like, really really bad. Now call me crazy, but I seem to remember some wingnuts bleating every five minutes or so about how the news media is obsessing about all the “bad news” in Iraq to exclusion of the “good.” It’s been their mantra for the last two years as a matter of fact.”
Stirling Newberry: “A few days ago [Peter at UN Dispatch] took on Roger Simon, who has been making hay by being the wingnut world’s designated repeater on oil for food. Peter Daou caught him grinning at the camera about how many hits it was getting him.”
John Cole: “I don’t, however, buy into the notion that the UN is fatally flawed. It does do good work, and that should be acknowledged. I have a helluva lot of things I would like them to do, but that would require committments that no one in the world, tragically, appears willing to make. That was part of the reason I believe The UN Dispatch took on Roger Simon…. I have read Roger Simon for a long time, and I am fully convinced he is passionate about UN reform and deeply appalled by the Oil-for-Food scandal.”
Not surprisingly, our previous post about Roger L. Simon’s hyper-focus on the Oil-for-Food controversy elicited a strong response from the UN’s blog critics.
And not unexpectedly, the responses were largely dismissive, derisive, and betrayed a shallow reading of the original post.
1. UN Dispatch is the UN’s blog, and the post in question represents the UN’s displeasure with Roger Simon.
False. Here’s a brief quote from the ‘About’ section of this blog: “UN Dispatch is sponsored by the United Nations Foundation, though the views expressed herein do not represent the official views of the United Nations Foundation, or the UN.”
2. UN Dispatch does nothing to refute Simon’s contentions about Oil-for-Food and simply takes issue with his topic selection.
A non-argument. The post is clearly about an examination of why Simon is fixated on the subject, not what he says about it. A March 3rd entry on UN Dispatch quotes Mark Malloch Brown, chief of staff to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on Oil-for-Food: “There was wrongdoing at the UN, an organization which must live by the highest ethical standards, and we’ve got to correct it and root it out.”
3. Simon has the right to blog about anything he pleases, whether or not the UN likes it.
Again, this isn’t in contention. The point is not to deny Simon the right to post, but to examine his rationale for focusing on a single issue, however significant, to the exclusion of other issues of equal – if not greater – impact. The question seems reasonable considering that most issue-oriented bloggers such as Brad DeLong, Volokh, Juan Cole, etc. have an area of specialization that dovetails naturally with their blogging. In Simon’s case, it seemed like a fair question to ask why this particular topic is of signal importance to him.
Finally, an unfortunate reaction from some bloggers is their willingness to simply shrug off the examples of UN-related issues listed in the original post. It’s clear that many of these bloggers have become accustomed to knee-jerk attacks and are unwilling (or unable) to engage in a reasoned debate.
For the record, we’ll re-post the issues we think warrant attention and let readers decide:
20% of Roger L. Simon’s blog entries during the month of April make reference to the Oil-for-Food controversy.
0% of Roger L. Simon’s blog entries during April make reference to the following UN-related issues:
Building a sustainable future
Is Simon’s hyper-focus on a single UN-related issue based on deep convictions? Unbending principles? Moral outrage? Maybe. Then again, there’s his explanation:
“Thanks to the Secretary General of the United Nations for providing this blog with its first 50,000+ visitor day.” – Roger L. Simon
Middle East: During the last 48 hours of the continued ceasefire, humanitarian workers have delivered food to hundreds of thousands of people, repaired water and sanitation infrastructure, re-stocked medical supplies, and some of the 520,000 displaced Palestinians have returned to their homes. However, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator remarked the scale of needs remains “unprecedented in the Gaza Strip.”
Middle East: At today’s informal session of the General Assembly on Gaza the SG remarked that the most recent ceasefire has held since yesterday at 8 a.m. local time. He noted that a durable ceasefire is necessary and UN shelters must continue to remain safe zones. The SG thanked UN staff in Gaza and will fly the UN flag at half-mast tomorrow in memory of those who died in the conflict.
Middle East: The SG commended Israeli and Palestinian parties for committing to a 72-hour ceasefire that took place at 8 a.m. local time today. He urges all parties to abide by the ceasefire and commence peace talks in Cairo to address underlying issues and agree on a durable ceasefire to sustainably stop the violence. The UN lends its full support toward these efforts.
Middle East: The SG condemned yesterday’s shelling outside of an UNRWA school in Rafah that killed at least 10 Palestinian civilians. The SG stated that the attack violated international humanitarian law and UN shelters must continue to be safe zones and not combat zones.
SG: Last night the SG spoke at a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica where he repeated his call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire. Speaking about yesterday’s shelling of a UN shelter he said: “Nothing – nothing – justifies such horror” and demanded “that all parties immediately respect UN premises”.
SG: The SG met with President Ortega yesterday in Nicaragua where he visited a wind farm and praised the country’s commitment to renewable energy. The SG arrived in Costa Rica today where he is expected to lecture about “Costa Rica and the United Nations: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century”.