Yearly Archives: 2009
It’s called the Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, and it was adopted 12 years ago today (via IntLawGrrls’ excellent “On this day in…” feature). Though it passed the UN General Assembly by a resounding vote of 103-3, the Convention has not yet entered force because the requisite 35 countries — 35! — have not yet ratified it.
What the treaty sets out are basically the regulations of how countries can mind the effects that their usage of border-crossing rivers have on other countries’ usage. So, if a country wanted to build a dam on a river that flows into a neighboring country, it would have to notify that other country of the effects this project would have. Similarly, it would prevent one country from dumping pollutants in a river that would then be dumped into the country where the river ends.
This seems to make sense to me. And if a country found it onerous to have to consult with a river-sharing neighbor about a certain project, that seems to be only more reason to need to have a mechanism to deal with these kinds of disputes. Maybe if we could ratify the Law of the Sea here in the United States, we could make some progress on rivers, too…
UPDATE: Probably unsurprisingly, the Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses didn’t appear to make the list of top treaty ratification priorities for the United States.
(image from flickr user superciliousness under a Creative Commons license)
Forget the “prophet of doom.” Gideon Rachman suggests that a short story about goat prices in Somalia could have been the best predictor of the economic meltdown. And to his question of who could play the goat in the movie — might I suggest Betty, the erstwhile companion of jailed former Congolese warlord Laurent Nkunda?
Reuben Brigety and Sabina Dewan of the Center for American Progress have authored a new report proposing a “National Strategy for Global Development” to go along with the customary National Security Strategy. The report urges using the Millennium Development Goals as the basis for the United States’ development strategy — now that’s progress I can believe in.
The Wall Street Journal makes the supremely trenchant point that Cuba — Cuba! — is on the Human Rights Council. Well, sheesh, somebody should have just told the Obama Administration before they joined the Council. There’s no telling how American presence could help improve the body…
(image from flickr user CharlesFred under a Creative Commons license)
Mark rightfully expressed dismay last month when the Israeli government signaled that it would not cooperate with a UN investigation into alleged crimes (on both sides) during the December 2008-January 2009 Operation Cast Lead, even though the mission was to be lead by a respected jurist, Richard Goldstone, on whom any claim of anti-Israel or anti-Semitic bias would, by all accounts, fall objectively flat. Israel’s position hasn’t changed, but Goldstone’s team is saying that they will be moving forward with the investigation, even with the regrettable non-participation of the Israeli government.
This is obviously not the ideal situation, because Goldstone’s inquiry is not a confrontational one. There are two entrances to Gaza, but the appearance of going through Egypt is likely even less palatable to the investigation’s critics than the notion of the investigation itself. This is what makes Israel’s stubborn refusal to cooperate so wrong-headed: the mission was supposed to travel to Israeli towns to investigate Palestinian rocket fire, but will be unable to do so if it is not allowed into Israel. The Israeli government has a legitimate interest in not wanting the investigation to be or appear one-sided; but the best way to ensure that would have been to work with the investigators, not make their job more difficult and create a self-fulfilling prophecy of bias in the process.
Russia Today bemusedly reports something on which “Russia and Georgia have found themselves in rare agreement” — a UN report on the security status in the disputed region of Abkhazia. The report recommends such outlandish steps as securing a ceasefire zone and calling for the UN’s 129 unarmed military observers to monitor peace and stability.
My somewhat insouciant conclusion: if both Russia and Georgia think a UN report on something as contentious as Abkhazia is biased, well, then it pretty much must be fair.
Madam Secretary passes on a text message-based appeal made by Secretary Clinton yesterday to help raise emergency humanitarian relief funds for displaced persons in Pakistan’s embattled Swat Valley: text “swat” to 20222 to provide a $5 donation to the UN refugee agency’s life-saving work in the region. You can also provide your support directly through UNHCR.
Readers will also be reassured to know that Telecoms sans Frontieres, those technological humanitarians extraordinaires, have deployed to Pakistan to provide emergency telecommunications infrastructure.
(image from UNHCR)
Ban Ki Moon will visit Sri Lanka later this week and the Secretary General had this to say in advance of the trip.
“The task now facing the people of Sri Lanka is immense and requires all hands,” he said, stressing the need for progress in three critical areas: immediate humanitarian relief; reintegration and reconstruction; and a sustainable and equitable political solution.
The task now facing the people of Sri Lanka is immense and requires all hands
Progress on all three of these fronts must move forward in parallel – and it must begin now, he stated.
Mr. Ban’s Chief of Staff, Vijay Nambiar, is currently in the country and is engaged with relevant parties on how best to respond to the humanitarian situation of the large number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and initiate a process for early recovery and long-term reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
I’ll judge the trip a success if the outcome includes opening the internment camps to international aid agencies and the media.
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”.