Monthly Archives: June 2005
Washington Post Op-Ed
By UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
“Today I am traveling to Brussels to join representatives of more than 80 governments and institutions in sending a loud and clear message of support for the political transition in Iraq.
A year ago, in Resolution 1546, the U.N. Security Council set out the timetable that Iraq, with the assistance of the United Nations and the international community, was expected to fulfill. The Brussels conference is a chance to reassure the Iraqi people that the international community stands with them in their brave efforts to rebuild their country, and that we recognize how much progress has been made in the face of daunting challenges.” [More]
A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary
Democracy Arsenal: “A UN umbrella may be one of the only ways to attract foreign troops back into Iraq. If the U.S., for example, topped up the regular reimbursement rates for troop contributors, its not impossible to envision some developing countries with peacekeeping experience coming forward, particularly for tasks away from the front lines.”
Juan Cole: “The United States will eventually have to go to the United Nations and request that it send a peace-enforcing mission to Iraq, as the US military withdraws… A US withdrawal without a United Nations replacement would risk throwing Iraq into civil war. Such a civil war, moreover, would very likely not remain restricted in its effects only to Iraqi soil.”
Laura Rozen: “Slate‘s Fred Kaplan explains the peculiar situation the White House would find itself in were it resort to recess appointing Bolton to the UN, an institution Bolton’s supporters charge with not being sufficiently democratic.”
Betsy’s Page: “Robert Novak reveals how the Democratic objections to John Bolton are just a charade. It’s now become a party vote unmoored from the merits of the nomination or any of the underlying issues regarding the United Nations.”
Stygius: “In April I wrote: “If the most positive contribution John Bolton has made to solving global proliferation problems has been by his absence, why are we still being subjected to the argument that his “tough” and “abrasive” style gets results, when instead his permanent absence from government service may in the end be Bolton’s greatest contribution to US national security?”
World Refugee Day: “The United Nations General Assembly designated 20 June 2000 as World Refugee Day to recognize and celebrate the contribution of refugees throughout the world. Since then, World Refugee Day has become an annual commemoration marked by a variety of events in over a hundred countries. This year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will commemorate World Refugee Day for the fifth time with the inspirational theme: “Courage,” in order to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees world-wide who are forced to flee their homes.”
Protecting the World’s Vulnerable People: “The protection of some 17 million uprooted people is the core mandate of UNHCR. The agency does this in several ways. Using the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention as its major tool, it ensures the basic human rights of vulnerable persons and that refugees will not be returned involuntarily to a country where they face persecution. Longer term, the organization helps civilians repatriate to their homeland, integrate in countries of asylum or resettle in third countries. Using a world wide field network, it also seeks to provide at least a minimum of shelter, food, water and medical care in the immediate aftermath of any refugee exodus.”
It Takes Courage to Be a Refugee: “As ordinary people living peaceful lives, we rarely have to put our courage to the test. Refugees are ordinary people, too, except that through no fault of their own, they find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. As such, they are often required to dig deep into their own inner sources of strength in order, as another dictionary puts it, to find “the ability to overcome fear”.”
Refugees: Telling Their Stories: “A local Melbourne school-girl, Dragica Dacic, has won first place in the national 2004 High School Writing Competition 2004 for her story on a young Bosnian refugee. The High School Writing Competition is a yearly project that aims to encourage dialogue between young Australians and refugees, through the telling of personal stories. For the competition, Australian high school students are asked to interview a refugee in their local community and write a short article on their experiences.”
United Nations Foundation President Senator Timothy E. Wirth issued the following statement regarding the House of Representatives’ passage of the United Nations Reform Act of 2005 by a vote of 221 to 184:
“I am disappointed by today’s vote in the House of Representatives in favor of the so-called United Nations Reform Act. Although this bill does contain reform measures that will help make the UN more effective and accountable, many of which the UN has already initiated, it also includes counterproductive provisions that would automatically withhold U.S. payment of dues to the UN and undermine meaningful reform. The U.S. has gone down this flawed path before, incurring more than a billion dollars in arrears to the UN, impairing the ability of the UN to do its job and making other countries less willing to work with the U.S. We should not make this mistake again.”
State Dept. On-The-Record Briefing on UN Reform
R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary For Political Affairs
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: “The United Nations is engaged in one of the most important debates, one of the most critical debates in the history, the 60-year history of the organization because what is at stake is the need for this institution to undertake fundamental reforms and to strengthen itself. And this debate lies at the heart of the future of the UN. Secretary General Kofi Annan has been leading it. And now the United States is prepared to help lead the effort to strengthen the UN, so that it can meet the challenges that are at the core of our 21st century world.” [Read full transcript]
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”.