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Yearly Archives: 2007

Top UN rights official speaks out on Pakistan’s state of emergency

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.”

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Google Earth and the MDGs: Together at Last

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.”

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UN-backed meeting takes on commitment to reproductive health

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.

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Iain Murray Lost on UNCLOS

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.

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UN anti-drugs conference begins in Kabul

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.

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UNCLOS passes SFRC

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. READ MORE

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