Monthly Archives: October 2007
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, reports that violence in Iraq has displaced more than 4.4 million people.
The agency estimates that 60,000 people are forced to leave their homes every month.
Of these, some 2.2 million Iraqis are displaced internally, while more than 2.2 million have fled to neighbouring states, particularly Syria and Jordan. Many were displaced prior to 2003, but an increasing number are fleeing now. In 2006, Iraqis had become the leading nationality seeking asylum in Europe.
Via Jurist, I see that the UN’s top climate change negotiator, Yvo de Boer, told reporters yesterday that the United States and Australia — the only two western industrial nations not to ratify the Kyoto Accords — have agreed to participate in the Bali conference to negotiate a successor climate change agreement. de Boer’s announcement came after informal meetings with member states in Indonesia yesterday. From the AP:
“The United States came to this meeting with a very constructive position, saying they want to see a launch of negotiations” to be concluded by 2009, he said…”The United States and Australia indicated in this meeting they are willing to begin negotiations,” de Boer told reporters Thursday. “They are willing take on commitment on the future climate change regime.”
U.S. Undersecretary of State Paula J. Dobriansky said the Indonesian talks were the “kind of discussion that needs to take place to move us forward.” Dobriansky could not say if the United States would drop its long-standing opposition to forced emission reductions, but noted that a combination of mandatory measures and financial incentives was part of domestic environmental policy.
Baby steps, perhaps. But a step in the right direction nonetheless! It was unclear just a few months ago, for example, if the United States would even participate the Bali negotiations, which will take place in early December.
United Nations agencies are working together to address the problem of sexual violence in Somalia.
“After years of war, rape has become a threat to women in Somalia when they move along roads, due to the presence of militia at illegal roadblocks. They are also at risk in IDP settlements located on the outskirts of towns such as Galkayo, which are too isolated to be secure,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a news release.
As overpaid and under worked United Nations bureaucrats quaff champagne and feast on canapés and shrimp in Turtle Bay to celebrate U.N. Day, it is important for the world to remember those who have been failed by the organization, or have suffered at its hands.
He goes on to blame the UN for the Rwanda genocide, the Darfur genocide, and the suffering of “millions of Iraqis…under the brutal boot of the Baathist regime while Saddam Hussein plundered the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food Program,” among a list of other things.
The most disappointing part of Gardiner’s post is its single-minded view of world events. Nobody who is serious about foreign policy actually believes in reductions like his. Obviously there are other factors that, one would hope, should speak to his hypotheses. UN troops are “peacekeepers” and are not intended to be an invasionary force or successfully operate in areas where there is no peace to keep. Rwanda and Darfur were (and are being) failed by all of humanity, not specifically the UN. Those “millions of Iraqis” he mentions, 80 percent of the population, were actually supplied critical medical supplies and food through the Oil-for-Food program, not to mention the fact that Saddam Hussein was unable to develop a WMD program during that time. These were the stated goals of the program. The majority of the resources that flowed to Hussein during this period were due to “sanctions violations outside the Programme’s framework,” oil smuggling to the tune of $11 billion as compared to the estimated $1.8 billion in revenues from OFF manipulation.
Corine Hegland has written a great summary article (pdf) on UNCLOS for the National Journal. I got this from Matt, who writes “She’s doing neutral reporting, so she doesn’t come out and say that there’s little to the opponents’ case besides vague paranoia but she also make it clear that there’s little to the opponents’ case besides vague paranoia.”
Slate also published an “Explainer” on the race to claim the Artic today.
Key quotes from Hegland’s piece after the jump.
It seems that we are seeing the Darfur rebel-buy in problem become fully manifest ahead of this weekend’s peace talks. Various news agencies are reporting that few of the key players plan to attend the peace talks on Saturday in Sirte, Libya. Significant no-shows, of course, would mean that the peace talks would fail before they began.
To make matters worse, the peacekeeping force being prepared for Darfur is already beset by problems. Not only is UNAMID having trouble finding donor countries willing to provide 24 helicopters, but the government of Sudan is placing onerous bureaucratic obstacles to its deployment. Khartoum, for example, refuses to let the UN deploy any troops not from Africa–never mind that African militaries lack certain capacities neccessary to get the mission off the ground.
The UN special envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, (known as one of the more skilled diplomats in the UN system) is understandably frustrated. The UN will inevitably be blamed for failing in Darfur. But by itself, the UN has no real power to press intransigent rebel groups to attend the meeting. Eliasson, for example, can’t threaten to sanction Khalil Ibrahim for refusing to join the talks. Neither can Jan Elliason knock on President Bashir’s door and threaten further sanctions should his government, say, refuse to lease land or provide ports of entry to the peacekeeping force. The real power rests with member states. And so far, key member states are clearly not applying the kind of pressure necessary to force all parties to the table this weekend.
UPDATE: Julia Spiegel from the Enough Campaign writes in:
“I don’t think the peace talks are doomed to fail if all of the rebel leaders are not at the table at the outset. It’s not ideal, of course, but the international community can work intensively to bring other rebel parties and potential spoilers into the fold as the talks proceed.”
“These discussions are going to take a very long time and there’s potential there to bring others on board, once the process has been proven to be legitimate. But it will take serious energy and engagement.”
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.