Monthly Archives: October 2007
The UN Convention on Law of the Sea was just voted out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 17 to 4, with Sens. Vitter, Coleman, Isakson, and DeMint opposing. Supporters were hoping for only 2 no votes. The next battle will be convincing the Democratic leadership to bring it to a vote on the Senate floor.
More disturbing news out of Darfur today. From the BBC:
An un-named UN official on Sunday saw the forced relocation of refugees at gunpoint from Otash camp to Amakassara. The UN says this “dangerous precedent” could jeopardise Darfur peace talks…
UN emergency relief coordinator Sir John Holmes said a UN official witnessed Sudanese security forces with sticks and rubber hoses coercing hundreds of refugees, including women and children, to leave Otash refugee camp on the outskirts of Nyala.
Other witnesses told the BBC they saw 10 vehicles with heavy machine guns surrounding people, while eight trucks were loaded with their belongings.
The refugees have been moved into an area where the UN says it is known that the Janjaweed militia operate.
Finally, I’d like to thank blogger KM at the Coalition For Darfur, who has posted important updates on Darfur for the past three years. You have been an invaluable resource to me, and I’m sure countless others who have tried to keep up with the conflict in Darfur. Thanks for all your hard work over the years.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend a high-level diplomatic meeting on Iraq in Turkey this week.
The Istanbul Expanded Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Neighbouring Countries of Iraq will focus on ways to promote greater regional dialogue.
“The Secretary-General hopes the Istanbul meeting will be an important opportunity for the participants to find mutually acceptable solutions on issues of common concern,” spokesperson Marie Okabe said.
As we’ve said before, the UN usually takes a beating during campaign season. The latest candidate to get in on the action is Fred Thompson, who in an ‘exlusive email’ to the Gun Nut blog of Field and Stream, rails against a UN plot to take guns away from law abiding Americans.
Says Thompson, “Last year, the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights declared that international human rights law requires all nations to adopt strict gun control laws. These “minimum” provisions are much more restrictive than any of those on the books anywhere in the U.S. and would almost certainly violate the Second Amendment of our Constitution.”
I’m no fancy big city lawyer — and I certainly don’t play one on TV — so I am hard-pressed to find something in this document that would violate Americans’ second amendment rights. But, like I said, I’m no lawyer. Decide for yourself. Here are the offending paragraphs from the very brief August 2006 declaration of the Human Rights Council Sub-commission to which Thompson refers:
Urges States to adopt laws and policies regarding the manufacture, possession, transfer and use of small arms that comply with principles of international human rights and international humanitarian law;
Also urges States to provide training on the use of firearms by armed forces and law enforcement personnel consistent with basic principles of international human rights and humanitarian law with special attention to the promotion and protection of human rights as a primary duty of all State officials;
Further urges States to take effective measures to minimize violence carried out by armed private actors, including using due diligence to prevent small arms from getting into the hands of those who are likely to misuse them;
As you can see, these are pretty broad directives. And as you can see, no country is required to do anything. In fact, the only UN body that can require something of a member state is the Security Council, on which the United States has a veto.
On October 22, the New York Times Magazine‘s James Traub published a report on the likelihood of an expanded UN role in Iraq for the Stanley Foundation. Traub speaks to UN Dispatch about the report, the inevitability of greater UN involvement in Iraq, and the troubling prospect that Iraq’s last best hope may still fail.
In your report, you argue that it is inevitable that the UN take on a more robust political role in Iraq. How do you come to that conclusion?
It is probably inevitable that the UN’s role will be expanded, but it is by no means inevitable what that role will be. It will be expanded in part because the dimensions of catastrophe there call on some of the abilities that the UN uniquely has. For example, the whole question of what will be done with the over two million refugees — perhaps an equal number of IDPs — is the kind of work the UN does. There is also another sense in which the expansion of the UN’s role is inevitable, namely that there is a wish both on the part of the United States and of the United Nations for an expanded UN role.
The question is, what can the UN usefully contribute to Iraq?
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.