Monthly Archives: November 2005
Selected summary of United Nations related news and events
A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary
Overthrow: “Montreal Climate Summit, the first United Nations climate conference since the Kyoto agreement came to legal force in Feb. 16, 2005, is taking place against a backdrop of increasing concern about the speed of the changes to the global climate and its consequences.”
Treehugger: “Today in Montreal the United Nations Climate Change Conference begins, and it will end on December 9th. This event will bring together more than 10,000 people including delegates, official observers from government, industry, business, the scientific community, and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) interested in figuring out what to do for the post-Kyoto era. This thing will be big! Stay tuned this week for more, including the expected statement by the US that they aren’t changing their position and that doing something about greenhouse gas emissions and efficiency is “bad for the economy.”
Politics in the Zeros: “Pay up to save rainforests: “A bloc of developing countries plans to make a radical proposal this week at the United Nations summit on climate change in Montreal: pay us, and we will preserve our rainforests. The group of 10 countries, led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, argues that the rest of the world is benefiting from the rainforests’ natural wealth without sharing the cost.” They do have a point.”
Mojo Blog: “Sam Rosenfeld has a very good TAPPED post about aid to Africa, noting that while turning poor African countries into democracies with 10 percent GDP growth a year is very hard, spending a bit of money to provide them with bed nets for malaria is not. That’s right. I think, though, he’s attacking a straw man here. Very few “aid critics,” even William Easterly, think that modest steps like sending malaria nets to Africa are useless. Easterly would probably laud it as the sort of thing we should be doing. But that’s not what people like Jeffrey Sachs are proposing. Sachs argues that you can’t solve one poverty problem without solving a whole host of others, and wants to send nations not just malaria nets but trees that replenish nitrogen in the soil, rainwater harvesting, better health clinics, etc. etc. The UN Millenium Project is very broad, and as such, is open to the usual criticisms. In fact, critics of Jeffrey Sachs sometimes cite the Gates Foundation’s malaria net work as their preferred, more modest alternative.”
Stygius: “While I agree with John Bolton that — theoretically — unilateralism is not isolationism, an isolated unilateralist makes the two a distinction without a difference. Via Steve Clemons, it looks like Bolton’s tactics at the United Nations are managing to alienate America’s most steadfast partner. The Telegraph: “Britain has rebuffed a Bolton move to join him in refusing to pass the organisation’s 2006 budget until member states approve wide-ranging management reforms.”
“Gender-based violence is one of the most pervasive of human rights abuses. It covers a range of injustices – from gender abuse to systematic rape and from pre-birth sex selection to female genital mutilation – that affect as many as one in three women. Ending gender violence will take action on many fronts every day of the year. But 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is a start…” [Read more]
“The impact of spiralling pollution on the planet poses a threat to civilisation just as catastrophic as much-vaunted weapons of mass destruction, Britain’s top scientist warned today.
Lord Robert May, president of the country’s leading scientific body, the Royal Society, issued the warning as a 12-day conference was set to get underway today in Montreal to decide the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations’ troubled treaty for curbing greenhouse gases.
“The impacts of global warming are many and serious: sea-level rise … changes in availability of fresh water … and the increasing incidence of extreme events — floods, droughts, and hurricanes – the serious consequences of which are rising to levels which invite comparison with weapons of mass destruction,” Lord May said in an advance copy of a speech released today to coincide with the start of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on the same day.
The Montreal meeting is the first by the convention since the UN’s pollution-cutting Kyoto Protocol, signed by 156 countries, took effect on January 16.
But a notable non-signatory of the pact committing industrialised nations to reducing or offsetting emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases is the planet’s heaviest polluter: the US.” [Read more]
“Detlev Mehlis, who heads the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, has reached an agreement with the Syrian authorities on the United Nations office in Vienna as a venue for the questioning of five Syrian officials in the case, a UN spokesperson confirmed…” [More]
A thoughtful post from Carol Gee at South by Southwest:
“How does it feel to be hungry, really hungry? It is not the kind of hunger that comes with having missed a meal. It is also not the kind of hunger one feels when doing a very purposeful “cleansing fast,” or fasting on Fridays, in the old days of an observed liturgical holy week.
This hunger is that which comes from not getting anything to eat, or very little to eat, on a regular basis for days, weeks, months or years at a time…. There are entire nations starving or desperately endangered today; right now. And there far too many people in these United States that are also hungry. This week, this coming Thanksgiving Day, the weekend following, millions are hungry. For many of the rest of us, we will be trying to figure out what to do with all our leftovers. A recent Reuters story focused on the just published United Nations report on hunger in the world which states that 6 million children a year die from hunger related causes.”
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”.