Monthly Archives: July 2007
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has named leading women’s rights advocate Noeleen Heyzer of Singapore, who is also the former Qatari ambassador to the United States, to head up the Bangkok-based UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
Ms. Heyzer was the “the first executive director from the South to head the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), where she has worked to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality.”
Yakin Erturk, the special rapporteur on violence against women for the UN Human Rights Council, was dispatched to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on a ten-day fact finding mission. Evidence of the sexual violence she encountered, which she described as “far beyond rape,” was widespread–and absolutely sickening.
“Women are gang raped, often in front of their families and communities. In numerous cases, male relatives are forced at gun point to rape their own daughters, mothers or sisters,” she said.
After rape, many women were shot or stabbed in the genital area, and survivors told Erturk that while held as slaves by the gangs they had been forced to eat excrement or the flesh of their murdered relatives.
Widespread sexual abuse in the various conflicts racking the republic — which last year held elections hailed as marking a new era — “seems to have become a generalized aspect of the overall oppression of women,” Erturk said.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has hailed Rwanda’s abolition of capital punishment.
“Abolition in Rwanda sends a very strong message,” Ms Arbour said. “A country that has suffered the ultimate crime and whose people’s thirst for justice is still far from quenched has decided to forego a sanction that should have no place in any society that claims to value human rights and the inviolability of the person. Rwanda is demonstrating leadership by action.”
Actor Ewan McGregor, a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador, is riding his motorcycle from northern Scotland to the southernmost tip of Africa in an effort to raise awareness surrounding children’s issues.
McGregor, along with fellow actor Charley Boorman will make several stops in countries along the way.
This is not the first lengthy ride for the two friends: their first long-distance biking trip – called Long Way Round – was in 2004, where they rode from London to New York, stopping to participate in UNICEF projects in Mongolia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan along the way.
On this recent trip, Mr. McGregor and Mr. Boorman have met with children who have lost limbs to landmines in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. After a two-year displacement due to the 1998-2000 Ethiopia-Eritrea war, hundreds of thousands of people returned to Tigray to find their homes, lands and schools heavily mined.
Secretary General Ban ki Moon visited San Francisco yesterday to pay homage to the city that gave birth to the United Nations and also see, first-hand, some of California’s cutting edge efforts to fight global warming. But before Ban meets with Governor Schwarzenegger later today, he had a personal stop to make. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
…as soon as his airplane lands at San Francisco International Airport, Ban’s first order of business will be to visit Libba Patterson, 90, of Novato, whose family hosted him on his first visit to the United States more than four decades ago.
“San Francisco is a place close to my heart,” Ban told reporters at a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York last week. “I was a young foreign exchange student in the Bay Area a long, long time ago in 1962. The kind lady who opened her home to me lives just across the (Golden Gate) bridge. I cannot wait to see her.”
Later today, Ban and Gov. Schwarzenegger will tour a Silicon Valley firm that has pioneered technology to make homes and businesses more energy efficient.
You probably don’t recognize his name, but you have seen his work. In the 1940′s Donal Mclaughlin headed of the Graphics Division of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the World War II-era precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency. Among other things, McLaughlin helped design visual presentations for use in the Nuremburg Tribunals and even designed the courtroom itself. His most famous design was also produced in the wake of World War Two. Via Design Observer, a blog about graphic and architectural design, comes the fascinating story of how McLaughlin created one of the most universally recognizable symbols: the United Nations emblem.
The US State Department announced its intention to convene the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco in June 1945, and the OSS’s Presentation Branch was asked to create displays, certificates, maps and guides for the delegates, and one seemingly modest thing.”It was my good fortune,” McLaughlin told me, “to be assigned the problem of designing a lapel pin for Conference identification.” He went through dozens of designs, struggling with the challenge of accommodating a suitable image with the conference’s name, date and location, all in a one and one-sixteenth diameter circle. His solution was what McLaughlin describes as “an azimuthally equidistant projection showing all the countries in one circle,” flanked by crossed olive branches. It appeared not only on the delegate’s pins, but was stamped in gold on the cover of the United Nations Charter. On June 26, the Charter was signed by delegates of fifty nations, and the United Nations was established. Donal McLaughlin, without fully intending to, had designed its emblem.
Today, July 26, 2007, is McLaughlin’s 100th birthday. And after a century on this earth he remains an idealist, “I still believe that the UN is really our only hope for world peace,” he tells Design Observer. Happy Birthday, Donal Mclaughlin. Keep up the good work!
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.