Yearly Archives: 2007
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has started talks with rebel groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) to negotiate the release of hundreds of child soldiers; 220 have been freed so far.
Discussions have started with the full support of the Government of CAR, which has engaged in talks with the UNICEF since the first UN assessment mission in the Vakaga region identified armed children among the ranks of non-State armed groups in January, the agency said in a news release.
“This UNICEF programme not only contributes significantly to children’s welfare, but also helps resolve one of CAR’s most pressing problems,” said the agency’s CAR Humanitarian Coordinator, Toby Lanzer.
As Jessica notes below, fourteen new members have just been voted to the new Human Rights Council. The real story here is what country did not win a seat. Belarus, a repressive dictatorship in Eastern Europe, was blocked from gaining a seat on the council on Thursday when it could not muster the requisite number of votes in the General Assembly. Given Belarus’ appalling human rights record that should not come as a surprise. Still, there was a chance that Belarus could have snuck in the council because Eastern Europe was guaranteed two slots on the 47 member panel, and only Belarus and Slovenia originally entered the race.
For a while, it looked as if Belarus was a shoo-in. The United States and other western countries, however, persuaded Bosnia to run and then worked behind the scenes to lobby members of the General Assembly to vote for Bosnia over Belarus. A coalition of NGO’s like Human Rights Watch, the Open Society Institute, and the Democracy Coalition Project also lobbied hard to deny Belarus a seat on the Council.
According to the New York Times, the new United States Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad called the outcome “heartening.” This is significant statement because just over one year ago, the United States refused to vote to create the new Council (which replaced the discredited Human Rights Commission) and eschewed running for a seat. At the time, the United States worried that there were not enough safeguards preventing a country with dismal human rights record from gaining membership. However, the vote against Belarus goes to show that when member states are sufficiently determined to keep an abusive state off of the council, the rules on voting and membership are, in fact, adequate.
Fourteen countries have been elected to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council after a vote by Member States at UN Headquarters in New York.
Angola, Bolivia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Qatar, Slovenia and South Africa were successful after the first round of voting, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Italy were chosen following a second round.
Successful countries – which were elected according to a formula that allots seats among regional groups – needed to obtain an absolute majority of the General Assembly’s membership of 192 States. The second round of balloting was restricted to those States which had scored the most votes in the first round without achieving a majority.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged policymakers and industry leaders to work to ensure that young people have better access to information and communications technology (ICT).
“In many instances, young people are the driving force behind innovation in the development and use of new technologies,” Mr. Ban said in a message on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which is being observed under the theme Connect the Young.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation in the world. As of March, there were 18,336 total uniformed personnel, including 16,594 troops, 713 military observers, and 1,029 police, costing over $1 billion per year. But the price of peace is still less than the cost of years of war in Congo, which claimed more lives than any other conflict since World War Two.
From 1998 to 2003 nearly 4 million people are thought to have perished in a civil war stoked by Congo’s neighbors. Today, that fighting has largely, but not completely, subsided. And while it is too early to call the DRC a UN Peacekeeping success story, it is clear that the United Nations Mission in the Congo (called by its French acronym, MONUC) is responsible for overseeing Congo’s significant strides toward peace and democracy in recent years.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has announced the launch of “Food Force,” the world’s first humanitarian video game for children.
“Children have very few opportunities to understand the realities of a hungry world. By engaging children in a fun and creative way, ‘Food Force’ will help children become better global citizens – now and in the future,” said John Powell, WFP Deputy Executive Director for Fundraising and Communications.
A screen shot of the game is below.
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.