Monthly Archives: May 2007
The White House today announced long anticipated new steps to pressure the Sudanese government into accepting a peacekeeping force in Darfur. Known as “Plan B,” the new measures include expanding existing American sanctions on Sudanese business interests and imposing targeted sanctions against one rebel leader and two Sudanese government officials (including one who is wanted by the International Criminal Court).
President Bush also announced that he would seek additional sanctions against Sudan at the United Nations. This would be a positive development. The unilateral American sanctions are of only limited value–the United States already has an expansive sanctions against Sudan. At this point, the best way to leverage Sudanese cooperation on Darfur is though multilateral forums like the United Nations and International Criminal Court.
Q and A with Jordan Ryan, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Mission in Liberia.
Until the United Nations intervened in 2003, some 250,000 people lost their lives and as many as one million people were displaced or made refugees as a result of fourteen years of conflict in the small, West African country of Liberia. UN Dispatch recently contacted Jordan Ryan, an American citizen who is one of the top administrators of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). From his office in Monrovia, Mr. Ryan discusses the history of the conflict, reconstruction efforts, and how UN peacekeepers are contributing to the political and physical rehabilitation of a broken country.
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has released recommendations urging that all indoor environments be completely free of smoke. The organization cites extensive evidence of harm caused by second-hand tobacco smoke in their statement.
WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said, “There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.” Chan urged all countries to pass laws requiring all indoor workplaces and public places to be completely smoke-free.
There are about 4,000 known chemicals in tobacco smoke; more than 50 of them are known to cause cancer, according to WHO, which says exposure to second-hand smoke causes heart disease and many serious respiratory and cardiovascular diseases that can lead to premature death in adults. It also causes diseases and worsens existing conditions, such as asthma, in children.
General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa says that female United Nations police and military serve as role models in the war-torn countries where they are deployed.
“Peacekeepers not only carry out their mandated tasks; they create a lasting legacy by exemplifying how military and police can engage in humanitarian work while interacting respectfully with civil society,” General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa said in a message for the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, observed tomorrow.
“A shining example of this is the first ever all-female contingent of United Nations Police sent from India to Liberia…These Blue Berets are not only helping to restore the rule of law, they are also serving as role models for Liberian women,” she added.
Earlier this week, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that his office will open an investigation into suspected war crimes in the Central African Republic, where a civil war peaked in 2002 and 2003. The war was marked by terrible sexual violence, and according to the Prosecutor this is the first ICC investigation in which the number of rape victims exceeds the number of murders.
With the new investigation in CAR, says The Economist, the International Criminal Court is hitting its stride:
“This is the fourth formal investigation launched by the court since it was set up in The Hague five years ago. Many, including some of its original backers, have complained about the slowness of its procedures. But it has passed some notable milestones. It has issued international arrest warrants against its first two suspects in Sudan and five rebel leaders in Uganda. Its first trial–of Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese rebel leader–is due later this year. Many a highly placed thug, it is hoped, is beginning to sleep less easily at night.”
United Nations human rights experts have reported some progress in their talks with the Sudanese Government on the conflict in Darfur.
The UN Experts Group on Darfur “welcomed the positive approach taken by the Government of Sudan and specific proposals made by the Government,” members said in a statement released in Geneva. “While there was common understanding on several important steps to improve the human rights situation in Darfur that could be implemented in the future, further dialogue would be pursued on other issues.”
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.