Monthly Archives: February 2007
Last Tuesday, during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing (video) on the “The Future of the United Nations Under Ban Ki-moon,” a question was asked that reflects the conventional wisdom on the crisis in Darfur:
This conflict, I think, highlights the profound shortcomings of the United Nations, and I suspect we might be further down the road of acting decisively, if it were not for the restrictions we allow the Security Council to impose upon us. And I think that … in the United Nations, we’re sort of guaranteed the lowest common denominator approach to genocide.
The response posited by former Senator Tim Wirth flipped the issue on its head and framed it in a way that should be of interest to those promoting a framework for responding quickly to the genocide.
Ten days ago, the peacekeeping force attached to the United Nations Mission in Haiti began incursions into gang infested neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, with orders to arrest leaders of the organized criminal groups that terrorize the impoverished Cite-Soleil neighborhood. As the AP reports, it would seem that this campaign has shown some early signs of success. Peacekeepers on Monday arrested one Johnny Pierre Louis, a gang leader wanted in connection to the reprisal murders of two other gang members who had agreed to participate in a UN sponsored disarmament program. The program, administered by MINUSTAH (as the UN’s Haiti mission is known), promises economic aid and job training in return for gang members relinquishing their arms.
A new United Nations-backed study says that one third of today’s Iraqi population lives in poverty with more than 5 per cent living in extreme poverty.
“Prepared by the Iraqi Central Organization for Statistics and Information Technology with the support of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the statistics show that a high percentage of people in Iraq live under various levels of poverty and human deprivation despite the country’s huge economic and natural resources.” More
The Government of Sudan has apparently refused to issue visas to a team of human rights investigators, dispatched to Darfur by the new Human Rights Council. The Council voted unanimously to send the team to Darfur and they were expected to start their work this week. But because they have not been given entry visas by the Sudanese government they are currently in a holding pattern in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Yesterday afternoon, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his displeasure with Khartoum’s behavior, saying “He [Bashir] said he would issue visas to the fact-finding mission. He said he would have no problem, and I am very much disappointed by the decision of the Sudanese government.”
Unfortunately, there is precious little that Ban can do to force Khartoum to relent and issue the visas. Besides lodging strongly-worded complaints, there is little in the way of punitive measures available to the Secretary General that could help prod Khartoum into changing its behavior. Ultimately, this responsibility belongs to the Security Council. And so far, it would seem that member states are unwilling to apply the kind of pressure necessary to push a reluctant government in Sudan to yield to the demands of the international community.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched an interactive website today on the right to food, providing information for policy-makers, legal practitioners, civil society members, UN staff, academics and the general public.
“Through the web site, users can increase their awareness of the human right to food, access resources for capacity-building at national and international levels, and find guidance, methods and instruments to assist in implementation of the right to food at the country level.” More
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.