Monthly Archives: June 2007
UN Dispatch recently sat down with Congressman Donald Payne, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health on the Committee for Foreign Affairs, to discuss malaria, the priorities of the Subcommittee, and UN peacekeeping. The transcript follows.
UN Dispatch: As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, why have you chosen to focus on malaria?
Cluster bombs are bad news. Small bomblets packed into artillery shells explode over a target, spewing golf-ball sized mini bombs far and wide. The problem is, not all of the bomblets explode on impact. Some are duds. And much like landmines, the unexploded sub-munitions lay dormant until disturbed. If a child, for example, picks up an unexploded bomblet it may blow up in her face. Like landmines, cluster bombs continue to kill and maim long after hostilities have ended.
So far, efforts to control the use of cluster bombs have been disregarded by the United States, which argues for their military utility. But the United States government may have just had a change of heart. The Associated Press reports today that the American delegate to the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons, which is meeting in Geneva this week, has agreed to participate in negotiations on cluster bombs. American officials have said they are not seeking an outright ban, but are open to regulating the use and manufacture of cluster bombs. This, at least, is an improvement over a previous policy of simply ignoring international efforts on cluster bombs.
A new study by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) reports that pervasive sex discrimination is impeding African women’s success in business.
The study, entitled “Lessons from Success Stories of African Women Entrepreneurs,” called for initiatives beyond microcredit schemes while pointing out that women continue manage businesses which generate employment and tax revenue despite limited government support, negative social environments, institutional discrimination and lasting gender inequalities.
The study is based on the experiences of women entrepreneurs in Botswana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on governments, communities and families to increase efforts to prevent child trafficking.
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman noted that every year globally, about 1.2 million children are trafficked. “Children are trafficked into prostitution, into armed groups to serve as child soldiers, to provide cheap or unpaid labour, and to work as house servants or beggars.”
Trafficking exposes children to violence, sexual abuse, severe neglect, and HIV infection, she pointed out, while violating children’s right to be protected, to grow up in a family environment and to have access to education.
UNICEF called for punishing the perpetrators of human trafficking, which generates an estimated $9.5 billion a year and fuels other criminal activities.
The Citizens for Global Solutions blog points me to this recent speech by State Department Legal Advisor John Bellinger III on the United States and International Law. In one portion, Bellinger discusses his government’s relationship with the International Criminal Court.
Over the past couple of years we have worked hard to demonstrate that we share the main goals and values of the Court. We did not oppose the Security Council’s referral of the Darfur situation to the ICC, and have expressed our willingness to consider assisting the ICC Prosecutor’s Darfur work should we receive an appropriate request. We supported the use of ICC facilities for the trial of Charles Taylor, which began this week here in The Hague. These steps reflect our desire to find practical ways to work with ICC supporters to advance our shared goals of promoting international criminal justice.
The ICC’s three open war crimes investigations—Darfur, northern Uganda, and eastern Congos—are all in places that the united states has played a leading role in peace, justice, and reconciliation efforts. Bellinger’s speech suggests that at least some in the US government may be finding that the ICC is, in fact, complimenting American foreign policy objectives in these places.
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.