Monthly Archives: October 2007
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.”
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.
Martin Elmund from Malaria No More, who has also been covering the Gates Malaria Forum, writes today about news regarding “RTS,S, the world’s most clinically advanced malaria vaccine candidate.” Elmund explains:
A joint project between GlaxoSmithKline and the Gates-funded Malaria Vaccine Initiative, RTS,S works in two ways. First, it prepares the defense mechanisms of a person to recognize and respond to the malaria parasite before it encounters the genuine article. Second, it helps t-cells attack the parasite as it emerges from the liver (the first stop in the body where it multiplies some 40,000X) and begins to infiltrate red blood cells.
In 2004, RTS,S was shown to provide greater than 50% protection against infection in children 1-to-4 years old. The new study finds that among children under one, the vaccine provides 65% protection against new infections over three months.
This is significant because children 18 months and younger bear a disproportionate burden from the disease: 30% to 50% of the severe disease and deaths occur in that age group. Until now, it was unknown whether the vaccine could help shield them from malaria.
The Times also picks up on the same story save this nugget, ‘Time and again scientists have been on the brink of success only to have their hopes publicly and painfully dashed. The height of false hope, perhaps, was in 1984 when the NY Times ran the headline “Malaria Vaccine is Near.”’
According to Elmund:
Researchers were so confident they’d cracked the code that they tested the vaccine on themselves just before flying to a conference where they expected to declare victory. They came down with malaria symptoms the morning after they landed.
The Guardian has more information today about Idris Osman, the WFP official kidnapped in Somali:
About 60 soldiers forced their way into the WFP offices yesterday morning, taking Idris Osman, a Somali national, into custody at gunpoint and locking him up at the National Security Services headquarters.
No reason was given for the arrest, which prompted an immediate suspension of WFP work in the capital. But UN officials said it was linked to a new method of food distribution that began on Monday using 42 local mosques to get aid to more than 75,000 people in Mogadishu.
The WFP, which is struggling to deal with a growing hunger crisis in Somalia, had been unable to directly distribute food in the capital since June 25 due to violence and looting. “Going through the mosques guaranteed us a level of security the government cannot give,” said a UN official in Nairobi, who requested anonymity.
Although Somalia is almost completely Muslim, the transitional government views mosques, particularly in Mogadishu, with suspicion.
The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) continues to speak out on the “systematic” media killings in Iraq.
Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said recently, “I condemn the killings of Salih Saif Aldin, Jasim and Mohhamed Nofaan, Zeyard Tariq, and Dhi Abdul-Razak al-Dibo…The apparently systematic targeting of journalists in Iraq shows how disturbing it is for the war mongers to see their crimes exposed. This in turn highlights how important free and independent reporting is for the restoration of peace and democracy in 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.