Monthly Archives: November 2008
Six weeks before his election on November 4, President-elect Barack Obama made a promise to the one million people around the world who die from Malaria each year. “When I am President,” he said, “We will set the goal of ending all deaths from Malaria by 2015. The United States will lead.”
This may sound like a typical grandiose promise made by a candidate seeking election. But to those in the public health community it offered validation that ending Malaria deaths is not some pie in the sky dream–but a goal that can be achieved in the here and now. Following through on this commitment, however, means that the fight against Malaria must be taken to where the disease is most destructive and most difficult to contain: refugee camps in Africa.
A former Japanese race car driver has designed a new kind of electric car, called the Electric Sunflower. Via, the United Nations University’s new webzine Our World 2.0.
As the video notes, the electric sunflower is selling fairly poorly for the moment. That said, they are looking to March 20009 when a new government subsidy kicks in.
Where EVs are concerned, one of the most forward thinking prefectures in Japan is Kanagawa, which will start in March 2009 to provide a subsidy of about half that of the national government (i.e., ¥300,000), making EVs truly more price competitive.
Kanagawa prefecture also has a plan to ensure that there are 3000 EVs on local streets by fiscal year 2014. This includes a range of measures to promote EVs, such as subsidies, lower taxes, plus reduced parking fees and expressway tolls. The electric charging infrastructure will be further developed with “quick chargers” installed in 30 locations by 2010, aiming for 1,000 charging outlets of 100 and 200 volts within the prefecture by 2014.
It’s amazing to consider the extent to which truly local policies like parking and toll fees can have a global impact.
The UN’s second-highest peacekeeping official pens a letter to the editor in The Washington Post, responding to critics of the overwhelmed, undermanned, under-resourced, and under-appreciated mission in eastern Congo.
MONUC forces are patrolling, holding access routes to the provincial capital of Goma and maintaining the fragile peace there. It is the only force actively contributing to the protection of the vulnerable and helping to make a difference where it matters most. However, with barely one peacekeeper for every 10,000 civilians in eastern Congo, MONUC cannot be everywhere at once. Its troops are spread thin throughout the country; moving large numbers of them would destabilize other volatile regions. This is why we have called on the international community to reinforce the mission immediately. We need the right tools if we are to succeed in the difficult days ahead.
Without the U.N. force, the situation in North Kivu would have been far worse. Without the blue U.N. helmets and U.N. expertise, Congo could not have emerged from the horrors of its brutal civil wars to hold its first national elections in half a century. U.N. peacekeeping is an imperfect instrument, but where would Congo and indeed Africa as a whole be without it? [emphasis mine]
UN troops cannot indeed be “behind every tree,” and Mulet raises a good point about the counter-factual difficulty of realizing the benefits of having UN peacekeepers behind at least some of those trees. Check out this RI bulletin that I flagged earlier for more on what the mission is doing — and what needs to be done to support it.
Anne Bayefsky’s caricature of the UN in The National Review would be offensive if it weren’t so laughable.
The U.N. is an uncomplicated place. Every sick, unsatiated tyrant, European has-been, or miserable wretch brainwashed about the Great Satan wants to take America down – unless they are able to immigrate of course. Their modus operandi? The United Nations.
So…everyone at the UN hates the U.S. so much that they either want to destroy it, or…become a citizen? Besides insulting the fairly significant contingent of non-brainwashed, America-hating, “washed-up” Member States in the UN, Bayefsky makes some astonishingly spurious claims about Barack Obama’s agenda for U.S.-UN relations, groundlessly accusing him of already planning to “put Israel on the chopping block” and “agree to some form of global taxation” (see here and here for indications that Obama’s actual policies on these respective issues could not be more opposite). These are only the two most ludicrous of a number of other nefarious positions that Bayefsky plants on the incoming administration and which it has in no way voiced support for.
Needless to say, the UN is a complicated place. It is the only forum at which representatives from all countries can voice their concerns, pursue their interests, and — ideally, of course — work together. Naturally, there is a fair share of bad actors who use its platform as a bully pulpit, but it is also the only mechanism through which the weight of the entire international community can — legitimately, concertedly, and most effectively — be leveraged to address transcendent global issues, from climate change to extreme poverty, counter-terrorism to peace in the Middle East.
This is simply far too expansive an organization to be boiled down as “uncomplicated.”
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.