Yearly Archives: 2007
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has released recommendations urging that all indoor environments be completely free of smoke. The organization cites extensive evidence of harm caused by second-hand tobacco smoke in their statement.
WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said, “There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.” Chan urged all countries to pass laws requiring all indoor workplaces and public places to be completely smoke-free.
There are about 4,000 known chemicals in tobacco smoke; more than 50 of them are known to cause cancer, according to WHO, which says exposure to second-hand smoke causes heart disease and many serious respiratory and cardiovascular diseases that can lead to premature death in adults. It also causes diseases and worsens existing conditions, such as asthma, in children.
General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa says that female United Nations police and military serve as role models in the war-torn countries where they are deployed.
“Peacekeepers not only carry out their mandated tasks; they create a lasting legacy by exemplifying how military and police can engage in humanitarian work while interacting respectfully with civil society,” General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa said in a message for the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, observed tomorrow.
“A shining example of this is the first ever all-female contingent of United Nations Police sent from India to Liberia…These Blue Berets are not only helping to restore the rule of law, they are also serving as role models for Liberian women,” she added.
Earlier this week, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that his office will open an investigation into suspected war crimes in the Central African Republic, where a civil war peaked in 2002 and 2003. The war was marked by terrible sexual violence, and according to the Prosecutor this is the first ICC investigation in which the number of rape victims exceeds the number of murders.
With the new investigation in CAR, says The Economist, the International Criminal Court is hitting its stride:
“This is the fourth formal investigation launched by the court since it was set up in The Hague five years ago. Many, including some of its original backers, have complained about the slowness of its procedures. But it has passed some notable milestones. It has issued international arrest warrants against its first two suspects in Sudan and five rebel leaders in Uganda. Its first trial–of Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese rebel leader–is due later this year. Many a highly placed thug, it is hoped, is beginning to sleep less easily at night.”
United Nations human rights experts have reported some progress in their talks with the Sudanese Government on the conflict in Darfur.
The UN Experts Group on Darfur “welcomed the positive approach taken by the Government of Sudan and specific proposals made by the Government,” members said in a statement released in Geneva. “While there was common understanding on several important steps to improve the human rights situation in Darfur that could be implemented in the future, further dialogue would be pursued on other issues.”
On January 22, UN Dispatch reported that 105 Indian police officers where being deployed to Liberia as the UN’s first all-female peacekeeping force. Today we sat down with a unit commander, Seema Dhundia, to check in on their progress.
The International Atomic Energy Agency released a new report detailing Iranian non-compliance with Security Council demands that it suspend its uranium enrichment program. American officials are not pleased. From the Washington Post:
Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns called the IAEA report “disturbing, because it shows that Iran is effectively thumbing its nose at the U.N. and the entire international community. If Iran does not agree to sit down and negotiate, which we would prefer they do, then I’m quite sure there will be united and strong international pressure for a third resolution.”
“The purpose would be to demonstrate to Iran that it is isolated and will pay an increasingly heavy cost for this outrageous behavior,” Burns said.
In today’s press conference, President Bush responded to the report by expressing his desire to pursue a tougher set of sanctions against Iran in the Security Council. Given the low expectations for a planned meeting next week between Iranian negotiator Ali Larjani and Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, we may soon see new action at the Security Council to step up the pressure on Iran.
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.