Monthly Archives: October 2008
I don’t want to give away one of the answers to the Better World Campaign’s quiz on the MDGs, but this will provide at least a hint for #4…
Today is the first UN-organized “Global Handwashing Day,” in which an estimated 120 million children are expected to take part. The day is devoted to conveying a simple, but often under-appreciated, health measure.
“The message we are really trying to get out is the importance of correctly washing your hands with soap and water at the critical times,” Unicef’s senior Sanitation and Hygiene programme adviser, Therese Dooley, said.
Unicef says using soap to wash hands, particularly after contact with excreta, can reduce diarrhoeal diseases by over 40% and respiratory infections by 30%.
This may seem an obvious precaution, but in South Asia, where half the population has no access to toilets, its importance cannot be understated.
(It seems that folks in northern Britain could stand for a handwashing lesson as well.)
If you are still skeptical about the connection between investing in girls and the social and economic development of poor countries read the report Girls Count from the Center on Global Development.
UN Dispatch is one of thousands of blogs around the world participating in Blog Action Day 2008. The theme this year is poverty, so we thought to highlight this quiz on the Millennium Development Goals created by the Better World Campaign. Take the quiz to test your knowledge of global poverty. And on October 17 show your solidarity with global citizens around the world to Take a Stand Against Poverty.
The diplomacy between the United States and North Korea — which saw the former “delist” the latter as a state sponsor of terror in exchange for stronger assurances that Pyongyang was halting its nuclear program — has already resulted in increased access for the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. From State Department spokesman Sean McCormack:
“I understand that the IAEA has resumed its work. It has started to reapply seals,” he told reporters.
“I think, as simply put, the North Koreans have started the reversal of their reversal, so they’re getting back to that baseline where they were very close to meeting their obligations under the second phase that we’re in, in terms of disablement” of North Korea’s nuclear complex, he said.
Just to be clear, a “reversal of [a] reversal” is a very good thing when it means dismantling, instead of developing, nuclear weapons.
From The Los Angeles Times
South Africa’s new health minister broke dramatically on Monday from a decade of discredited government policies on AIDS, declaring that the disease was unquestionably caused by HIV and must be treated with conventional medicine.
Health Minister Barbara Hogan’s pronouncement marked the official end to 10 years of denial about the link between HIV and AIDS by former President Thabo Mbeki and his health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.
Better late than never.
When I saw news reports that the government of Sudan had “arrested” a militia leader indicted by the International Criminal Court over a year ago, I confess that I was at first optimistic — perhaps this was a sign that Khartoum, not wanting to give up its president, was actually considering real concessions. Fortunately, I also read Opinio Juris, where Kevin Jon Heller has helpfully exposed what turned out to be some rather lazy journalism on the part of the BBC and The New York Times. The wanted man, known as Ali Kushayb, may or may not be “in custody,” as the headlines proclaim; what the reports neglect to mention is that Sudan has been trumpeting Kushayb’s detainment for over two years now.
To be fair, the usually reliable Jeffrey Gettleman did include — albeit buried near the end of the article — a quotation from a Darfur analyst skeptical that this “news” amounted to anything more than “another ploy by Khartoum to buy some time.” However, Gettleman should have expounded more on his Sudanese government source’s reiterated refusal to hand Kushayb over to the ICC, as well as his revealing comment that Sudan was still “investigating [Kushayb] to see if he has committed crimes in Darfur or not.” Without an actual intention to relinquish Kushayb, Sudan’s judicial processes are simply operating as usual, meaning that little has changed, and there is no real “arrest” to report.
The British — whom some have criticized, along with the French, as possibly overly willing to suspend ICC jurisdiction in Sudan — have recently specified quite vigorously that any suspension would require Sudan to issue not “just nice words…[but] a whole set of really bold actions.” Announcing the arrest of an indicted war criminal who may or may not have been in custody for over two years does not exactly amount to a “bold action.”
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”.