Monthly Archives: July 2009
The “continued vitality and relevance” of certain international institutions are questioned Clinton’s speech
John captured one good quote below. Here’s another I jotted down. Sayeth the Secretary: “We are seeking institutions that combine efficiency and capacity for action with inclusiveness…Their continued vitality and relevance depend on their legitimacy and representativeness–and the ability of their members to act swiftly and responsibly when problems arise. “
The UN as a whole has the legitimacy and relevance part covered. And various UN agencies like the World Food Program, World Heath Organization and UNICEF have the “swiftness of action” down pat. The Security Council, however, sometimes lacks a bit of both criteria. I wonder, therefore, if a statement like this is meant to lay the groundwork for a new push on Security Council reform?
The death toll for foreign troops in Afghanistan halfway through July equalled the highest for any month of the eight-year-old war, tallies showed on Wednesday, as a U.S. escalation has met unprecedented violence.
Authorities announced a U.S. soldier had been killed by a bomb and two Turks had died in a road accident, raising the toll of U.S. and allied foreign fatalities in the first half of July to 46, equal to full month highs set in August and June 2008.
In the two weeks since U.S. and British troops launched massive assaults, Western troops have died at an average rate of three a day, nearing the tempo of the bloodiest days in Iraq and almost 20 times the rate in Afghanistan from 2001-04.
On the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, it seems appropriate to celebrate the possibility that the United States could firm up its compliance with another UN human rights mechanism, the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is reportedly considering launching an investigation of the use of torture during the Bush Administration, a step that President Obama had been loathe to take.
IntLawGrrls’ Beth Van Schaack has much more on why the U.S. should be fully implementing the Torture Convention, so I’ll just add my agreement that this is a good step both for international justice and for the United States itself. The politics of an investigation will hopefully fade eventually, as this should be far more an issue of policy — of making sure the United States is abiding by conventions it has agreed to — than a partisan tactic.
Previewed yesterday, here’s a bit of a post-preview, if you will, of Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Council on Foreign Relations today (just about over now), mostly courtesy of our friends on the FP blogging team. Laura Rozen had some excerpts of the speech before Clinton even gave it; WaPo‘s Glenn Kessler looks at the Iran bits; Josh Keating couldn’t find it on the teevee; and Dan Drezner has a great play-by-play for those who (like me) missed it.
The key graf for fans of international cooperation:
Today, we must acknowledge two strategic facts: First, that no nation can meet the world’s challenges alone…. Second, that most nations worry about the same global threats, from non-proliferation to fighting disease to counter-terrorism….Just as no nation can meet these challenges alone, no challenge can be met without America.
I suppose the variant of the United States as “indispensable nation” was pretty much inevitable, but I’d just add (in case Secretary Clinton did not) that if no nation can meet these challenges alone, but America needs to be part of the battle, then U.S. engagement in the global body featuring every nation on the planet seems like a good idea.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has threatened Chinese workers in North Africa in retaliation for the deaths of Muslim Chinese Uyghurs last week in Xinjiang. This is not a minor threat. Chinese companies don’t use a lot of security in Africa, and Chinese workers generally are not well-liked by local populations in Africa; they lack the kind of population acceptance that would keep them safe. The Chinese embassy in Algeria has issued a warning and called for increased security measures for Chinese citizens in Algeria.
To make things worse, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – formerly known as “Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat” – is an especially violent branch of the group. They’re known for violent bombings, with casualty numbers that are consistently in the double-digits. They also take hostages; they executed a European hostage last month. They have the skills and the willingness to do major damage to Chinese interests. Chinese workers have been easy targets for previous terrorist attacks. Nine Chinese workers were kidnapped in Darfur in 2008, and the Ogaden National Liberation Front repeatedly attacked Chinese workers in Ethiopia.
For the record, there doesn’t seem to be any known link between Uyghurs and Al-Qaeda. The Uyghur American Association and the Uyghur World Congress have condemned Al-Qaeda’s threat, saying that “Terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda do not represent the peaceful aspirations of the Uyghur people.”
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”.