Yearly Archives: 2007
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, has voiced alarm at the imposition of a state of emergency in Pakistan.
In a statement, Louise Arbour expressed concern about reports that leading judges, lawyers and political and human rights activists have been detained or placed under house arrest, including UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Asma Jahangir.
She called on the Pakistani authorities to clarify the status of those detained and ensure that no one is detained for the peaceful exercise of their political beliefs.
Arbour said, “A state of emergency should only be used to deal with a dire security threat to the nation, not to undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary.”
The United Nations teamed up with Cisco Systems and Google to launch this funky new website that, among other things, uses Google Earth to track progress (or lack there of) on the Millennium Development Goals. Using Google Earth, you can click on the capital of a country to learn statistics like: the percentage of the population that earns under a dollar a day, the percent of children enrolled in primary school, annual GDP growth, and interestingly, carbon dioxide emissions per capita. The pop-up also provides a link back to the original website, MDG Monitor, where you can get more detailed information on the country’s progress toward meeting various development goals. See, for example, country profiles for Mongolia and Cote D’Ivoire.
Funny enough, each pop-up map comes with a disclaimer: “The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.”
Experts, advocates and activists came together at a United Nations-backed meeting in Asia to call for a commitment to reproductive health for women.
“Too many governments remain shackled by external pressures, outmoded laws and regulatory structures undermining reproductive health,” said participants in an Open Letter to Governments adopted at the end of the conference in India.
Over on the Corner, Iain Murray serves as a willing conduit of misinformation on the Convention on the Law of the Sea. Here’s a quick rebuttal.
1) “LOST threatens U. S. sovereignty…Once the U. S. became a party to the treaty, any number of issues could be adjudicated by a LOST tribunal. Jurisdiction over anything that affects the oceans directly or indirectly could be asserted.”
In fact, the United States insisted during the treaty negotiations that arbitration be the default mechanism by which disputes are negotiated. Further, the issues that can be arbitrated are very circumspect, namely, when two countries have a competing claim in the deep sea (which is considered ocean that is beyond 200 miles from the shore of any member state). Further, anything the United States deems a “military activity” is exempt from LOS-related dispute resolution mechanisms.
2) “LOST would be a big step toward United Nations global governance. The treaty’s reach extends far beyond international issues and disagreements into nations’ internal policies on a wide array of issues. The treaty’s structure is designed to replace national decision making with UN decision making on these issues.”
This is simply not true. The treaty creates a new organ called the International Seabed Authority, located in Kingston, Jamaica. The United States wields an effective veto over this body. Any issue that comes up that may threaten American sovereignty, or be interpreted as not being in American interests, will simply be shot down by our veto. But this can only happen if the United States ratifies the treaty.
A two-day summit aimed at stopping the flow of drugs out of Afghanistan kicked off yesterday in Kabul.
The meeting, bringing together international counter-narcotics officials, is being held under the framework of the Paris Pact – an initiative launched in 2003 to promote coordinated measures to counter drug trafficking in and from Afghanistan.
The UN Convention on Law of the Sea was just voted out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 17 to 4, with Sens. Vitter, Coleman, Isakson, and DeMint opposing. Supporters were hoping for only 2 no votes. The next battle will be convincing the Democratic leadership to bring it to a vote on the Senate floor.
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”.