Monthly Archives: April 2007
There should be a flurry of Security Council activity on Kosovo in the next week or two. In March, Martti Ahtisaari, the UN’s top diplomat for the “future status process” of Kosovo recommended the province’s independence from Serbia. Russia, a traditional ally of Serbia, balked at this suggestion and instead recommended that the Security Council send a fact-finding mission to Kosovo–a move some saw as a delaying tactic.
When that mission returned yesterday, American officials reiterated their strong support for Kosovo’s independence. “We hope that Russia understands that Kosovo is going to be independent one way or another,” Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried told Reuters. “It will either be done in a controlled, supervised way that provides for the well-being of the Serbian people, or it will take place in an uncontrolled way and the Kosovo Serbs will suffer the most, which would be terrible.”
Should the debate in the Security Council remain intractably stalled, Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian government may unilaterally declare independence from Serbia. And if Kosovo declares independence without formal UN approval, European Union member states will be divided over whether or not to formally recognize Kosovo. Given that the E.U. ponies up much of the cash to support Kosovo reconstruction, a potential E.U. split could seriously disrupt reconstruction efforts.
So even though the diplomacy is tough, the UN route is really the only option for Kosovo. As Dan Fried remarked, “I see absolutely no advantage to doing this any other way than through a Security Council resolution. I see merely disadvantages. The alternatives are all worse.”
Last week, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with former United States Vice President Al Gore to discuss climate change.
In his meeting, Ban said he was “very much encouraged by his firm commitment, as well as voluntary willingness to help the cause of the United Nations” regarding global warming. Ban also noted that he hopes to work closely with Gore to mobilize countries and “enhance the awareness of the international community with this issue.”
The United Nations refugee chief has pledged to step up efforts to improve local access to water in the Darfur region.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres toured areas adjacent to the Sudanese-Chadian border and met with African Union (AU) officials in West Darfur yesterday, the third day of his visit to Sudan.
An estimated 25,000 Chadians have sought refuge in West Darfur, despite the conflict in that part of Sudan, because of fighting across eastern Chad in recent months between rebels and Government forces.
Guterres acknowledged the vital importance of water to everyone living in the area and promised that UNHCR would do all it could to find better solutions for the refugees.
About 100,000 tons of World Food Program aid is being held at the Port of Sudan by government officials who contend that the food is genetically modified. The food aid is mostly sorghum wheat donated by the United States and meant for distribution in Darfur.
According to the WFP it has been certified by independent laboratories as not genetically modified.
“We had it tested by a French laboratory along with Canadian split peas which the Sudanese are also objecting to, and neither food consignment is GM. In any case, there is no GM sorghum on the market, it doesn’t exist,” said the WFP’s Caroline Hurford.
News of the hold up comes as the new head of the WFP, former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Josette Sheeran, visited Sudan on Wednesday. Perhaps Khartoum seeks to embarrass a key member state pushing for UN peacekeepers in Darfur. Whatever the reason, a responsible government would not hold hostage aid intended to feed their own citizens.
According to the latest United Nations human rights report on Iraq, large-scale killings and targeted assassinations continue to impede efforts to bring lasting stability and security to Iraq.
Although Government officials declared a drop in the number of killings in late February after the Baghdad Security Plan was launched, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) says the number of reported casualties rose again in March.
UNAMI also voiced concern regarding the handling of suspects arrested as part of the Plan. The new procedures “contained no explicit measures guaranteeing minimum due process rights.” Rather, the report argues, “they authorized arrests without warrants and the interrogation of suspects without placing a time limit on how long they could be held in pre-trial detention.”
by Elizabeth McKee
Director, Nothing But Nets
Today, April 25th, is the first time the United States will officially observe National Malaria Awareness Day. The President is hosting an event at the White House to commemorate what has been celebrated by the rest of the world as Africa Malaria Day since 2001. A forgotten disease that was eradicated in the United States, malaria affects over 500 million individuals a year, killing a child in Africa every 30 seconds.
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.