Monthly Archives: October 2007
Matt Stoller gets the significance of the UNCLOS:
Without being able to pass the very basic Law of the Sea treaty, there is no way we will ever get a treaty through on global warming, create the space to internationalize the Iraq mess, or work with allies abroad in any coherent manner. Fortunately, this is extremely winnable. All it will take is some floor time from Reid, and we’ll win, embarrass, and marginalize the hyper-nationalists.
Conventional wisdom has it that these kinds of treaties are DOA in the Senate. UNCLOS seriously challenges that assumption. (This is probably why the people that Taylor Marsh calls the “anti-UN black helicopter crowd” are so frightened of its passage.)
Ratifying LOS would makes future treaty ratification battles that much easier. And these are not treaties that will come up in the distant future. Negotiations over a post-Kyoto global environmental pact will begin in Bali in December. Should the Senate ratify UNCLOS, there is no reason to think that a strong accord coming out of the Bali process will automatically go the way of the Kyoto Protocal when it hits the Senate.
For the first-ever United Nations-backed Blog Action Day, thousands of bloggers from across the globe will join forces to push for environmental protection.
More than 12 million readers have viewed the 15,000 blogs – ranging from those promoting gardening such as “gardenrant.com” to sites providing tips for those interested in web businesses such as “entrepreneurs-journey.com” – participating in the event, supported by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
In part due to the good arguments made in these two posts (here and here), I just created a full-text RSS feed for UN Dispatch. For those of you who are unfamiliar with RSS feeds, check out this primer. It’s worth your time. Personally I use (and heartily recommend) Google Reader as my news reader.
In his Week in Review piece yesterday, New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman gets to the heart of the peacekeeping dilemma in Darfur.
The problem with Darfur is that it is not a Kosovo, an East Timor, or a Cyprus, all places where United Nations blue helmets have stepped between well-defined warring parties and stopped the bloodshed. Darfur is experiencing a different, messier kind of war.
Though often simplified, the situation in Darfur has become a chaotic free-for-all with many warring pieces, Arab versus Arab, rebel versus rebel, bandit versus bandit, all fighting one another in a desiccated, burned-out wasteland overrun with weapons and increasingly lethal for aid workers and peacekeepers.
If anything, Darfur resembles Somalia in the 1990s, when the failure of American-backed United Nations peacekeepers to subdue teenage gunmen in flip-flops ushered in 16 years of chaos that rages on today.
Also, unlike East Timor, Kosovo, and Cyprus, (and Sierra Leone and Liberia) Darfur has no powerful western backer willing to lead an intervention when things get completely chaotic. East Timor had Australia, Kosovo had NATO, Sierra Leone had the UK, and Liberia had the United States to bolster the peace with direct intervention at critical moments. No similar dynamic exists for Darfur. (To make matters worse, not only are developed countries not taking the lead, but they are being frustratingly slow in send the heavy equipment like helicopters and other ‘force multipliers’ needed to deploy the mission.)
Even if the mission does get off the ground, with no peace to keep what should UNAMID actually do? John Prendergast has some thoughts:
That night, a spotlight fell on the stage where Jal rapped. The darkened hall was full of young, successful-looking Washingtonians. It was a fascinating scene and one couldn’t help but wonder: How can this audience possibly understand where he’s coming from?
“My dreams are like torment
My every moment
Voices of my brain
Of friends that were slain,
Friends who died by my side of starvation
In the burning jungle and the desert plain.
But Jesus heard my cry.
I was tempted to eat the rotten flesh of my comrade.”
Jal was born in southern Sudan. He thinks the year was 1980. He’s not sure of the exact date. The region was engulfed in a civil war as rebels from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) began fighting for independence and control of the country’s oil.
His father became a rebel. His mother was killed. He says government soldiers raped his sister three times. Jal ended up in a United Nations refugee camp.
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.