Yearly Archives: 2007
This story in today’s Times, reporting the State Department’s announcement that a “team of American experts had arrived at North Korea’s sole functioning nuclear reactor and begun the work of disabling the facilities,” reminded me that I’ve been wanting to write about John Bolton’s recent destructive tactics with regard to North Korea and Iran. Bear with me. If you haven’t been following the Syrian-North Korea story, on September 6 the Israeli Air Force attacked a site inside the borders of Syria that “Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons.” According to the same Times article:
Many details remain unclear, most notably how much progress the Syrians had made in construction before the Israelis struck, the role of any assistance provided by North Korea, and whether the Syrians could make a plausible case that the reactor was intended to produce electricity. In Washington and Israel, information about the raid has been wrapped in extraordinary secrecy and restricted to just a handful of officials, while the Israeli press has been prohibited from publishing information about the attack.
Malaria kills one million people each year, the majority of whom are children in sub-Saharan Africa. Simple measures, like sleeping under an insecticide treated bed net, significantly reduces the risk of infection. To help us better understand the effectivness of bed nets, Nothing But Nets teamed up with VH1 to create this PSA.
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon today urged the Pakistani Government to restore the rule of law.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has urged the Pakistan government to immediately release political detainees, including a UN Human Rights expert and restore democracy.
The UN chief, in a statement on Monday, expressed his ”strong dismay” at the detention of hundreds of human rights and opposition activists, including the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Asma Jehangir.
He urged the authorities to immediately release those detained, to lift restrictions on the news media and to take early steps for a return to democratic rule, and appealed to the Pakistani government to hold the parliamentary elections as scheduled.
As far as statements condeming the actions of a member state go, this is fairly strong–and even more so because Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram currently holds the rotating presidency of the powerfull G-77 bloc of developing countries. Akram, not surprisingly, is upset with Ban’s outspokeness.
Actress Angelina Jolie, Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, will be honored by the International Rescue Committee tomorrow.
Jolie will receive the organization’s annual Freedom Award, along with UNHCR.
While Gail Collins’s shtick on the political attention being paid to the Convention on the Law of the Sea does her readers a bit of a disservice considering its actual importance, her column in Saturday’s Times does a pretty good job of boiling down the “debate.”
The New York Times runs a fascinating interview with Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku, who lets us know that in no uncertain term Kosovo will declare independence in the very near future.
Negotiations on Kosovo’s “final status” — semi-autonomy with Serbia, or as most Kosovar’s desire, full independence — are seemingly terminally stalled. And in August, the Kosovo government declared that if an agreement is not reached by December 10, Kosovo will declare independence unilaterally. Talks resumed today in Vienna, but according to Reuters, “there is no deal in sight.” So in all likelihood Kosovo will declare independence next month.
“We have no more moral right to say we need more time. If Washington asks us to delay for a short time, we will wait. But if the date is much after December 10, we will say, ‘let us go.’ It is better to ask for an apology than for permission. The time for a decision has come.”
The big question, of course, is how the United States, which in principle backs Kosovo’s independence, and Russia, which has close ties to Serbia, will handle the diplomatic crisis that will ensue.
Middle East: During the last 48 hours of the continued ceasefire, humanitarian workers have delivered food to hundreds of thousands of people, repaired water and sanitation infrastructure, re-stocked medical supplies, and some of the 520,000 displaced Palestinians have returned to their homes. However, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator remarked the scale of needs remains “unprecedented in the Gaza Strip.”
Middle East: At today’s informal session of the General Assembly on Gaza the SG remarked that the most recent ceasefire has held since yesterday at 8 a.m. local time. He noted that a durable ceasefire is necessary and UN shelters must continue to remain safe zones. The SG thanked UN staff in Gaza and will fly the UN flag at half-mast tomorrow in memory of those who died in the conflict.
Middle East: The SG commended Israeli and Palestinian parties for committing to a 72-hour ceasefire that took place at 8 a.m. local time today. He urges all parties to abide by the ceasefire and commence peace talks in Cairo to address underlying issues and agree on a durable ceasefire to sustainably stop the violence. The UN lends its full support toward these efforts.
Middle East: The SG condemned yesterday’s shelling outside of an UNRWA school in Rafah that killed at least 10 Palestinian civilians. The SG stated that the attack violated international humanitarian law and UN shelters must continue to be safe zones and not combat zones.
SG: Last night the SG spoke at a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica where he repeated his call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire. Speaking about yesterday’s shelling of a UN shelter he said: “Nothing – nothing – justifies such horror” and demanded “that all parties immediately respect UN premises”.
SG: The SG met with President Ortega yesterday in Nicaragua where he visited a wind farm and praised the country’s commitment to renewable energy. The SG arrived in Costa Rica today where he is expected to lecture about “Costa Rica and the United Nations: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century”.