Yearly Archives: 2007
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is sending relief in the wake of Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh—the organization is sending food to feed 400,000 people in the affected areas.
“We have to move as quickly as possible to get food to the most vulnerable,” said WFP Bangladesh Representative Douglas Broderick, pointing out that the biscuits are critical “when there is a scarcity of clean water for drinking and cooking.”
Yesterday, Scott Paul railed against the inaccuracies found in this Washington Times editorial about the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Apparently, Scott wasn’t the only person to raise an eyebrow. Captain Patrick J. Neher, director for international and operational law of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps at the Pentagon, wrote the following letter to the editor in today’s Washington Times.
The head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, warns of possible mission failure should 24 helicopters — including six attack helicopters — not be made available for UNAMID, the joint AU-UN Darfur mission. The United Nations has been asking member states to provide these important “force multipliers” for weeks, but so far those pleas have fallen on deaf ears. In a not-so-subtle jab to stingy member states, Guehenno says, “I think it tells a sad story on the commitment for Darfur, frankly.”
Why are attacks helicopters so important? First, peacekeepers deployed to Darfur will likely be subject to attack themselves — out gunned and out manned, the African Union lost ten soldiers in an attack last month. “If [UNAMID] was to know humiliation in the early stage of its deployment,” warns Guehenno, “then it’d be very hard to recover.”
Second, the extent to which the joint AU-UN Darfur mission will be able to deter attacks on civilians is reliant on the availability to superior firepower. Attack helicopters can be decisive in deterring attacks on civilians, especially when the attackers are using supped-up Toyotas and horses; it is widely acknowledged that a key turning point for UN peacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was the deployment of Indian air force attack helicopters, which were then used to proactively target militias that attacked civilian enclaves. A similar dynamic will likely occur once peacekeepers are deployed to Darfur. “Peace enforcement,” the euphemistic term for aggressively deterring spoilers, will be a critical to the success of the Darfur mission. But without the right equipment, peace enforcement would be nearly impossible. This why Guehenno is warning that UNAMID might fail if member states do not supply the UN with the helicopters.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has nominated Belgian criminologist Serge Brammertz as the new chief prosecutor at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
Mr. Brammertz’s candidacy became known informally this summer, but he had to complete his mandate as the head of the United Nations inquiry into the killing in 2005 of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon. Mr. Ban also nominated Daniel Bellemare, a Canadian prosecutor, to take over the Lebanon investigation. Both appointments require the approval of the Security Council, which is likely.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing yesterday on the upcoming climate negotiations in Bali. While many have noted that the prevailing idea seems to be that the world is in a holding pattern for the next U.S. President to see how the post-Kyoto agreement will shake out, we shouldn’t give up hope that there can be significant forward movement in the short term, at least according to two former climate negotiators who testified.
Ibrahim Gambari, The United Nations Special Envoy to Myanmar, called for immediately begin talks to between the Government and the opposition, stressing that dialogue was the only way forward to address the country’s ongoing crisis. From the UN News Center:
“In today’s world, no country can afford to stay outside the irreversible trends towards stability, prosperity and democracy, and it is the responsibility of every government to listen to its people, respond to legitimate popular demands and respect in full the human rights of its citizens,” Ibrahim Gambari told the Security Council today.
Mr. Gambari said that although his mission did not produce all the results he had hoped for, there were a number of positive outcomes.
Among them was the fact that, for the first time since she was last put under house arrest in May 2003, Ms. Suu Kyi was allowed to pronounce herself publicly through a statement read by the Special Adviser on 8 November. Following that statement, she was also allowed for the first time in four years to meet with members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
In addition, the Government assured the Special Adviser that it would release more detainees and that no more arrests would be carried out, and it agreed in principle to consider establishing a broad-based poverty alleviation commission.
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.