Monthly Archives: March 2007
The United Nations, the Sudanese Government, the African Union (AU) and the League of Arab States (LAS) have agreed to deploy a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force to Darfur in an effort to end violence in the region.
During a meeting in Riyadh last night chaired by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, the participants agreed to play their part to try to accelerate political reconciliation inside Darfur, where rebel groups have been fighting Government forces and allied Janjaweed militias since 2003.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who attended the meeting with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, AU Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré and LAS Secretary-General Amr Moussa, later told reporters that, “I think we made progress where there had been an impasse.”
From Riyadh, Warren Hoge reports that King Abdullah gave Ban Ki-moon an important boost in a discussion with Sudanese President Omar al Bashir.
The president of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, came under pressure Thursday from Arab leaders to end the crisis in Darfur.
Mr. Bashir spent an hour and a half in a meeting on Wednesday afternoon with the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and a two-hour session with him lasting into Thursday morning that included King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia; Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League; and Alpha Oumar Konaré, chairman of the African Union.
“I think we made progress where there had been an impasse,” Mr. Ban said. “The king’s intervention very much supported my position.”
A United Nations official with experience in the region said: “These Arab discussions on Darfur are significant. There was a time when it was very difficult to raise the subject, but that’s no longer the case.”
In a speech to the opening session of the League of Arab States summit meeting, the usually defiant Mr. Bashir sounded a defensive note in trying to justify Sudan’s continuing resistance to the dispatch of United Nations peacekeepers to Darfur.
That a regional power like Saudi Arabia would take interest in the issue and help Ban make progress in negotiations with Bashir should be welcome news. Until now, many member states from the middle-east have been relatively silent on the crisis in Darfur.
A new report released by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says that the right mix of government regulation, energy saving technologies and behavioral change can reduce global-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the building sector. The building sector, the report notes, accounts for 30 to 40 per cent of total energy use.
“The savings that can be made right now are potentially huge and the costs to implement them relatively low if sufficient numbers of Governments, industries, businesses and consumers act,” UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said of the measures that range from revamping ventilation systems to replacing the traditional incandescent light bulb.
“By some conservative estimates, the building sector worldwide could deliver emission reductions of 1.8 billion tonnes of C02. A more aggressive energy efficiency policy might deliver over 2 billion tonnes or close to three times the amount scheduled to be reduced under the Kyoto Protocol,” he added, referring to the pact setting legally binding emission reduction targets for 35 industrialized countries in the 2008-2012 period.
As Matt reported below, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee formally approved Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad’s nomination for United States Ambassador to the United Nations. During his hearing two weeks ago, Khalilzad offered welcome testimony affirming the centrality of the United Nations to American foreign policy objectives. You can read Khalilzad’s full statement here and UN Foundation President Tim Wirth’s enthusiastic endorsement of Khalilzad here.
Highlights from Khalilzad’s testimony are below the fold.
The Sudanese government, which has been accused of holding up aid in the Darfur area, signed an agreement yesterday with the United Nations pledging to give humanitarian groups better access to the region.
Under the deal, the Khartoum government would speed up visas for humanitarian workers and take other measures that the United Nations has been pressing for.
…The Sudanese government reiterated it would adopt “fast track” measures to help aid groups with their work, a term it has been using since the first of such agreements was signed in 2004.
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.