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“Captain” misses the boat on MONUC

Confusing the Hutus and Tutsis is the least of the mistakes Ed Morrisey made in a post on the Democratic Republic of the Congo this morning. Ostensibly he uses the new Human Rights Watch report on North Kivu as shaky foundation for an attack not only on the MONUC force, which he spuriously claims "has done little but act as observers as the situation has deteriorated," but on UN peacekeeping in general, which he accuses of "successive failures." The "Captain" clearly values his talking points over any semblance of nuanced reporting or opinion. Even the most cursory research (we can suggest UN Dispatch's new full-text RSS feed) would have revealed that UN workers in this incredibly complex conflict zone have been far more than "observers." In fact, 81 UN peacekeepers have been killed as part of the mission in the DRC. Morrisey is not only being disrespectful to those who gave their lives to the mission but is insulting those who continue to put themselves in harm's way as they try to pull the war-torn country together. Mark summarizes the situation (emphasis mine):
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In Retrospect

In the inaugural issue of the brand new Guardian American Allen Gerson, a former aid to the late UN Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, tells the heretofore unknown story of how the United States sought to justify the Iraq war before the now defunct UN Commission on Human Rights(UNCHR). Few can challenge the neo-conservative credentials of Kirkpatrick, so it is surprising that Gerson reveals Kirkpatrick's deep discomfort with the administration's attempt to jettison the UN Charter and justify the invasion of Iraq as a pre-emptive war. Here's the story: On the eve of war, the State Department sent Kirkpatrick to UNCHR headquarters in Geneva to try and block a resolution condemning the imminent US invasion. Foggy Bottom told Kirkpatrick to make her case by "defending the merits of the US action as justifiable on the grounds that Iraq was engaged in producing and hiding weapons of mass destruction and were ready to export them to terrorist groups like al-Qaida." Kirkpatrick, though, was not prepared to advance this position. In fact, in her time at the UN she consistently argued that the right of self-defense (as defined in article 51 of the UN Charter) did not include the right to launch pre-emptive wars. Rather, Kirkpatrick sought to appeal to the rule-of-law to stave off the opposing resolution. To that end, Kirkpatrick argued that the US-led invasion could be justified because Saddam was in material breach of the ceasefire resolution ending the 1991 Gulf War. In other words, military action against Iraq could be seen as a police action to enforce the UN Charter. Incidentally, Kirkpatrick's argument won the day in Geneva and ended up undermining the a resolution condemning the United States.
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Traub on UN in Iraq

The New York Times' James Traub (perhaps most famous for being the first-ever guest in our Delegates Lounge) just released a smart analysis of the UN in Iraq, which was commissioned by the Stanley Foundation. The PDF is here. The UN, says Traub, will inevitably assume the responsibility for negotiating a political settlement in Iraq. It the only body capable of acting both as an impartial mediator of Iraq's internal disputes and as a neutral platform to entice the support of Iraq's neighbors. The Bush administration is certainly pushing for this expanded UN role -- and the Secretary General is receptive. The problem, of course, is that Iraq's factions do not want the UN -- or anyone -- to arbitrate their disputes. Violence is still seen as a profitable way to secure political power, or deny it to others. Further, the United States has not made clear the extent to which it is willing to cede power to the United Nations to accomplish this task. Asks Traub, "Would the White House back a UN diplomat trying, say, to limit Kurdish control over Kirkuk? What if that diplomat needed to promise a timeline for the withdrawal of US troops in exchange for Sunni concessions?" At least for the moment, this does not seem to be the case.
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UNESCO chief condemns murder of Somali radio executive

The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has condemned the recent assassination of the chief executive of a popular radio station. UNESCO chief Koïchiro Matsuura said "I am gravely concerned about worsening violence against journalists and media personnel in Somalia who are brave enough to fulfil their professional commitments in such a dangerous environment." More
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Trashing the UN on the way to the Ballot Box

The United Nations often suffers in election years. Last year, for example, the pollster Frank Luntz advised office seakers that the UN could be made into a "wedge issue" prior to the congressional elections. This election cycle is no different--so far. Prior to the UN Summit last month, a primary candidate demanded the US withhold funding from the United Nations unless the UN prevent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from addressing the General Assembly. Now, as Matt Yglesias and Paul Kiel have noted, the same candidate has called for the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council -- never mind that the United States is not a member of the council. Fortunately, some candidates in the race have first hand experience at the UN. And from that knowledge stems statements like this:
"[The] United Nations...is a necessary and important framework for building the international cooperation that will be necessary to confront problems like environmental degradation and poverty." In a speech addressing 21st century global threats, [Governor Richardson] said the U.N. is vital to peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, and solutions to global climate change. "As a former U.N. ambassador there -- your ambassador there -- I, more than anyone in this race, understand the shortcomings of that institution," the New Mexico governor admitted. "But I also know the incredible power in the legitimacy of international cooperation."
What's interesting here is that politicians typically do not step out of their way to defend the United Nations while running for office. But perhaps this is a sign of the times. With American foriegn policy burdened by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, politicians recognize that voters understand the United States needs the kind of international support that the United Nations can provide.
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Lesotho launches anti-measles drive

With financial backing from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Lesotho has launched a major drive against measles. The campaign aims to reach nearly a quarter of a million children under the age of five. More