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Wednesday Morning Coffee

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>>Iraq - Kurdish lawmakers boycotted critical legislation Tuesday that sets new rules for provincial elections. The sticking point was the status of Kirkuk, which Kurdish lawmakers believe should come under the control of their autonomous region. The bill, which would bring more power to Iraq's regions and empower Sunnis, is now unlikely to be ratified by the Presidency Council, headed by President Jalal Talabani, an ethnic Kurd.

>>Thailand/Cambodia - Thousands of Thai and Cambodia troops have moved into disputed land near the Preah Vihear temple on the border. Tensions were sparked when UNESCO listed the temple as a Cambodian World Heritage Site, which prompted protests by local Thais and their subsequent arrest by Cambodian authorities. Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has suggested that Cambodia's Prime Minister, Hun Sen is just using the row to gin up votes for the imminent general election.

>>India - India's government survived a vote of confidence on Tuesday, clearing the way for a controversial nuclear energy deal with the United States. At one point during the debate, opposition members carried duffel bags full of cash into parliament, alleging that it had been used to try to buy votes. Under the deal, which still needs to be approved by the IAEA, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and the U.S. Congress, India would open its civilian nuclear reactors to international inspectors in exchange for the ability to develop its civilian nuclear program without having to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.



Yesterday in UN Dispatch
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Another Darfur Peacekeeper Attacked, Another Opponent of ICC Action in Sudan

And this time, there seems no doubt about the perpetrators. From the UN News Centre:
A security officer working with the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has been assaulted by Sudanese Government military personnel, the mission reported today. The security officer was forced into a vehicle yesterday and taken to a military intelligence office after he had gone to the market in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, to investigate a road accident. After his release he was taken to a UNAMID hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, on the potentially not unrelated topic of ICC action in Sudan, Joshua Keating at FP Passport reports that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vocally defended his Sudanese counterpart, Omar al-Bashir. Another recent would-be protector of Bashir is Russia's UN ambassador, who explained his reasoning thusly:
"I think the Security Council has this responsibility," he said. "We respect the independence of the prosecutor and the ICC. However, there is a responsibility for the Security Council, and it cannot walk away from this responsibility."
Unless this responsibility is to undermine the ICC--which it most explicitly is not--then the Security Council should avoid prematurely calling for a one-year suspension of the ICC's jurisdiction in Darfur until after a robust and even-handed debate on the matter. The Security Council itself recommended that the ICC investigate Sudan just two years ago, so to back off on that decision so soon after a major breakthrough in the Court's work would appear a bit rash. Sudan's most recent proposal to try suspects--and determine which suspects to try--on its own does not seem entirely credible.
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Nabbed!

These have been a rough couple of weeks for suspected war criminals. First, Sudanese President Omar el Bashir finds the International Criminal Court's sights set on him. Now, one of the world's most wanted men is arrested by Serbian authorities. Halleluja!
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Radovan Karadzic, indicted war criminal, was arrested yesterday outside Belgrade. He is awaiting extradition to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague. Karadzic was the political mastermind behind the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans in the 1990s. He is also alleged to have orchestrated the Srebrenica massacre, in which 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were killed in a few short hours after Dutch UN peacekeepers were over run by the Bosnian-Serb militia. Karadzic's partner in crime, General Radko Mladic directed the Srebrenica killings. He remains at large. Karadzic has been on the run for thirteen years--and it was always suspected that Serbian authorities were protecting him. So why was he nabbed yesterday? It seems that a combination of international pressure and internal politics made the arrest possible. In June the coalition backing the moderate and pro-west Serbian President Boris Tadic won a decisive victory in parliamentary elections over hard line nationalist elements. Tadic quickly moved against the hardliners, purging them from positions of influence in the government. The move against Karadzic can be seen as a kneecapping of Tadic's political opposition and shows just how politically marginalized the hardliners really are. Second, the international community--chiefly the European Union and the United States--have made Serbian cooperation with the ICTY the sin qua non of relations with Serbia. The pull of the European Union--and the recognition that unless Serbia cooperate with the ICTY it will never enjoy benefits of membership--was the larger force reason behind Karadzic's arrest. With yesterday's arrest, Boris Tadic showed the international community he can deliver. (To be sure, Mladic still remains at large. But with the veil of government protection now firmly cast off, one wonders for how long.) The international community should respond in kind -- and I suspect they will. Rich Byrne has more.
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Tuesday Morning Coffee

Top Stories

>>Serbia - The wartime leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, who is wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity, was arrested in a Belgrade suburb yesterday (the Guardian has his rap sheet). On the run since 1996, Karadzic had been practicing alternative medicine in the open under an elaborate disguise. He had been under surveillance for a week after a tip from a "foreign intelligence agency." He will be taken the the UN war crimes court in the Hague. Karadzic's arrest was one of the preconditions for Serbian advancement toward EU membership.

>>Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's ruling party and two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change begin negotiations today in Pretoria on a power-sharing deal. All parties signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday that committed them to two weeks of talks. It was the first time that Tsvangirai and Mugabe had met face-to-face in a decade. The NY Times thinks more pressure need be put on China, Russia, and South Africa by President Bush.

>>China - Two public buses exploded yesterday morning in Kunming, killing at least two. It is not yet known whether the perpetrators are foreign or domestic. Many residents received a text message prior to the blasts warning them off public buses.



Yesterday in UN Dispatch
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99 Problems–But Carbon Neutrality Ain’t One

Via the UN News Center, Jay-Z is headlining the HoveFestival in Norway -- a concert that has signed onto the United Nations Environmental Program's Climate Neutral Network. What does this mean? UNEP explains:
Morten Sandberg, the festival's organizer, said that the carbon footprint of the 2007 festival accounted for just over 1,300 tons. This was calculated among others by the use of a specially developed online carbon calculator and in close cooperation with CO2-emissions data experts. This year's carbon footprint is now being quality checked, and we are eager to see the difference and analyze this further in order to learn more about how we can continuously reduce our impact on the climate.
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Participants, including staff and acts, where invited to pay by SMS or credit card for their individual carbon footprint caused by their travel to the festival and during the event's operations. The funds are being used to support a methane-into-electricity project on a landfill in China approved by the United Nations as a Clean Development Mechanism project. Other energy saving measures at the Hovefestival included solar charging points for mobile phones, electric golf carts for on site travelling, and LED lighting systems powered by wind and solar power.
In addition to Hovefestival, a Norwegian Jazz and Blues festival which kicks off today--Canal Street--is also climate neutral. How green are your music habits? Take the Grist Quiz and you'll be entered to win tickets to Bumbershoot in Seattle.
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Security Council to Discuss Abkhazia and South Ossetia — Again

Another attempt to negotiate this enduring regional conflict...
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After Russia's admission on July 10 that its military aircraft had flown through Georgian airspace, a livid Georgia requested a Security Council meeting with the participation of its representative. This followed a number of explosions in the breakaway region of Abkhazia, which killed, among three others, a staff member of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG). In addition to calling for today's meeting, Georgia has responded by bulking up its military, adding 5,000 soldiers and increasing its annual military spending by more than a quarter. Seeking to calm the increasingly volatile tension in the region, Germany's foreign minister, working with the so-called "Group of Friends" (which also includes the U.S., U.K., France, Russia,and Croatia met with the leaders of Georgia, Abkhazia, and Russia over the past week. Security Council Report describes the prospects for the peace deal that he has proposed to the various sides [note: Sukhumi = Abkhazia and Tbilisi = Georgia...good old synecdoche in the South Caucusus].
The three-phase peace plan envisages a first phase of confidence-building measures, including an end to violence and the return of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia; a second phase of reconstruction; and a final stage focusing on defining the status of Abkhazia. While the proposal is still being refined, initial reactions from Russia and Abkhazia have not been encouraging. Sukhumi called the plan "unacceptable" as Abkhazia is not open to discussing its status and indicated that talks are only possible with Tbilisi if it signs a treaty on non-use of force and withdraws its troops from the upper Kodori Gorge. Tbilisi has said it will not renounce the use of force. Russia appears sceptical of a plan that suggests the return of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia before the situation calms down.
This closed-door session thus looks likely to end, unfortunately, much like the last one -- with little real action taken. When one of the parties to the dispute also happens to be a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, progress will be difficult at best. (Flags of Georgia, Abkhazia, and Russia, respectively.)
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Netroots Nation: Change Congress

UofC law professor Lawrence Lessig gave one of his trademark presentations as the keynote today. Lessig is launching a new initiative aimed at reducing the "distorting influence of money in Washington." This is a similar presentation he gave at UCSB in April. Interesting bit on climate change about 20:30 in.
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Netroots Nation: Change Congress

UofC law professor Lawrence Lessig gave one of his trademark presentations as the keynote today. Lessig is launching a new initiative aimed at reducing the "distorting influence of money in Washington." This is a similar presentation he gave at UCSB in April. Interesting bit on climate change about 20:30 in.