Yearly Archives: 2007
The United Nations Foundation released the results of a major survey of Americans’ foreign policy attitudes today. Americans, the poll finds, are virtually unanimous (86% of all voters) in the belief that working with allies and through international organizations is a wiser strategy for achieving America’s foreign policy priorities.
The poll also finds that 73% of all voters are more likely to vote for a candidate for President who understands that “solutions to world problems require international cooperation, whether they are economic problems, environmental problems, or problems of peace and war and that international cooperation is a better way of solving some of the world’s key problems.” Voters also show a strong preference for a candidate who can put an end to anti-Americanism and “restore trust in America through strong diplomatic efforts and cooperative partnerships with other nations around the world.”
One interesting caveat to all this is that young voters reflected stronger preferences toward isolationism than older Americans. The poll finds “young people, disillusioned by the war in Iraq, are “new isolationists.” GOP primary voters, on the other hand, were increasingly open to the idea of international cooperation. “Overall,” says the poll “a sharp generational difference has opened in the United States, with older Americans more inclined to support U.S. involvement in international affairs.”
To view the survey data, click here. For those in the Washington, DC area, the data will be released during an event at the National Press Club at 1:30 this afternoon, featuring UN Foundation President Timothy Wirth, Brookings Institution President Carlos Pascual, Geoff Garin, President of Peter D. Hart Research, Bill McInturff, President of Public Opinion Strategies and Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Ivo Daalder.
The second meeting of the United Nations Internet Governance Forum in Rio de Janeiro tackled internet resources, access, how to use the internet to assist in development.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “The United Nations does not have a role in managing the Internet…But we do embrace the opportunity to provide, through this Forum, a platform that helps to ensure the Internet’s global reach.”
The government of Kosovo has threatened to declare independence unilaterally on December 10 should the Security Council not come to a final decision on Kosovo’s status as a sovereign country. With the clock ticking, UN Dispatch talks to Daniel Serwer of the United States Institute of Peace who catches us up with the current state of the negotiations, and lets us know what the world might look like on December 11 should Kosovo make good on that promise.
The conflict raging in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the most brutal wars in the world today. Four million people are thought to have perished in a civil war that raged throughout Congo from 1998 to 2002. And while peace has been restored to most of the country — which is the size of western Europe — the conflict lingers on in the east. Rape, as this report from The Guardian explains, is a preferred instrument of war and terror used by all sides to the conflict. How bad is it?
Rape has been used to terrorise and punish civilians in Congo who support the “wrong side”, and it is perhaps no coincidence that it was also a tool of genocide in the mass murder of the Tutsis. Sexual violence is now so widespread that the medical aid charity, Medecins sans Frontieres, says that 75 percent of all the rape cases it deals with worldwide are in eastern Congo. Darfur is a distant second.
But those are just statistics. One victim provides us the dismal perspective from the ground.
“Every woman in the village leaves at night to sleep in the bush because of the raping. They still loot but if they can’t find us they can’t rape us,” [a rape victim] said.
Augustin Augier [of Medecins Sans Frontier] said that women in many villages dare not sleep in their own homes. Others are too afraid even to go to the outskirts of their communities to tend to crops because so many women have been seized in the fields, contributing to the rise in malnutrition and disease that has claimed so many lives.
“People live in fear so they live in the bush. They expose themselves to diseases: malaria, gastro-enteritis. It’s cold at night. All of this claims lives,” he said.
Terrible. But there is a bit of positive news coming from the region today. The DRC and the government of Rwanda — an instigator of conflict in Congo’s east — have agreed to join forces to disarm a Hutu militia, which is one of many armed groups ravaging the east. Rwanda has also agreed to tighten its border and prevent arms shipments to a Tutsi militia that is battling DRC government forces in the east. To be sure, this is a step in the right direction. But given the misery of the place, progress should ultimately be measured by the relative improvements of the quality of life of the people, especially women, living in eastern DRC.
During Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Antarctica, the UN Secretary General said warming temperatures on the continent mark dangers of climate change.
“It is here where our work, together, comes into focus…We see Antarctica’s beauty – and the danger global warming represents, and the urgency that we do something about it.”
Though UN Envoy Ibrahim Gambari was barred this week from meeting with the Burmese junta leader Than Shwe, it does seem that Gambari was able to secure a key concession from the Burmese regime. For the first time in three years, Suu Kyi will be able to meet with members of her party, the National League for Democracy. As Colum Lynch reports, “Thursday’s developments provided a relatively upbeat conclusion to a U.N. diplomatic mission to Burma…Only Wednesday, U.N. delegates voiced concern that Gambari’s six-day visit might end in failure because the Burmese leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, had refused to meet with him.”
There does, however, seem to be a limit to the Junta’s beneficence. Than Shwe still refuses to meet face to face with Suu Kyi. And according to Maggie Farley, the junta leader even refuses to call Suu Kyi by name, referring to her simply as “the lady.”
Next week, Gambari is expected to brief the Security Council on his trip. Sanctions seem to be off the table though, because China has already threatened a veto. Still, it seems the junta is beginning to respond to international pressure.
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.