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.”
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”.