Author Archives: Peter Daou
“Receiving the final report of the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) into maladministration and corruption in the United Nations-run Iraqi Oil-for-Food Programme, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on Member States to take action against illegal practises by companies under their jurisdiction and to prevent recurrences.
At the same time he reiterated his commitment to “vital” reform of the UN management structure in response to criticism in earlier IIC reports that found failures in actions by the UN Secretariat in regard to the now defunct $64-billion Programme which allowed Saddam Hussein’s sanctions-bound regime to sell oil to buy essential supplies.” [More]
Selected summary of United Nations related news and events
A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary
Democratic Daily: “The following is an advance copy of the full text of John Kerry’s speech today at Georgetown University: “When the Administration could have kept an Iraqi army selectively intact, they chose not to. They were wrong. When they could have kept an entire civil structure functioning to deliver basic services to Iraqi citizens, they chose not to. They were wrong. When they could have accepted the offers of the United Nations and individual countries to provide on the ground peacekeepers and reconstruction assistance, they chose not to. They were wrong.”
A Nurse Journal: “An Indonesian man has died of bird flu, raising the country’s human toll to four, officials said today, as international health experts prepared to go house-to-house to search for infected poultry. The government – accused of covering-up outbreaks of bird flu when it first started killing chickens two years ago – said it would work closely with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to hunt down sick fowl on the densely populated island of Java.”
Liquid List: “The UN saves lives the best it can, despite the willful attempts by world’s acknowledged greatest power to block that saving of lives. The UN has been the leading figure in a major increase in human security around the world. Don’t believe me? Think the world is full of death and destruction? You’re half-right, but that’s mostly because we don’t really talk about all the good things. This little gem, from a business paper in New Zealand, fills us in on the recent Human Security Report under the headline “Global peace breaks out: No one notices. (If you want to read the Human Security Report, click here.)”
Owen’s Musings: “Today is the 60th birthday of the United Nations – the anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter here in San Francisco. Read this excellent summary (pdf) of 60 ways the UN makes a difference, ranging from human rights to humanitarian aid; from eradicating smallpox to creating a framework to support international business.”
Open Democracy Blogs: “This October, openDemocracy – the online magazine of politics and culture – has hosted a discussion on UN SCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. This includes a series of articles, launched by Lesley Abdela, who recently reported for us on the real plight facing Iraqi women today, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, involved in the formulation of SCR 1325 during his time as UK Permanent Representative to the UN, and Maj Britt Theorin who secured the EU resolution calling for 40% representation of women participating in peacebuilding. Alongside their assessments, the Women Making a Difference blog has brought together 32 women who have fought against violent conflict from Cambodia to Sierra Leone, to ask: How does SCR 1325 affect us? Has it made any difference and what difference could it make? Our bloggers have been speaking in a personal capacity, drawing on their considerable experience, and that of the organisations to which they belong.”
Swords into Plowshares: “Today marks the sixtieth anniversary of the entry into force of the Charter of the United Nations. At a time when considerable attention is being devoted to the future of the U.N. (Ambassador Bolton floated the idea before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week of shifting from a system of mandatory assessments–dues–to a system of voluntary contributions to finance the Organization), I want to offer a few observations about the history of the Charter. The majority of the work of drafting the Charter occurred prior to the conclusion of World War II. In fact, most of the preparatory work was done at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. during the fall of 1944…”
“Russia confirmed more bird flu cases on Monday, raising fears it could spread over Europe, but a U.N. official said the best way to stop it was for donors to pay up and fight it where it began, among Asian fowl.
The U.N. food agency’s head said the world must focus on Asia, and on stopping the virus passing between birds, as the best way to prevent the nightmare scenario of it mixing with a human strain to cause pandemic deadly flu.” [Full article]
“Monday, October 24, 2005 is United Nations Day, marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. This day commemorates the many ways the world has benefited from the lifesaving work of the UN.” [Read more]
More bloggers weigh in on the Mehlis Report:
Democracy Arsenal: “With all the uproar about UN investigator Detlev Mehlis’ report implicating the highest levels of the Syrian government in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, we should not lose sight of the UN’s accomplishment in carrying out the investigation and issuing the findings it did. It remains to be seen what the Security Council will do with Mehlis’ report, but the people of Lebanon already feel some sense of satisfaction that the facts they all suspected have been brought to light by an objective source. Here’s another example of why – if we are ever shortsighted enough to abandon or significantly scale back the UN – we will find ourselves with the impossible task of having to recreate what we destroyed.”
Political Animal: “IN DEFENSE OF THE UNITED NATIONS – Suzanne Nossel suggests that UN bashers should take a look at its role in investigating the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri … She’s right. The UN report has given a huge boost to calls for reform in both Lebanon and Syria, and it wouldn’t have happened if the report had come from anywhere else.”
Austin Bay: “I’ve found Michael Young’s Beirut Daily Star commentaries to be both fact-filled and courageous. This essay on the UN Mehlis report appears in the OnLine Journal. Everyone knows Assad’s Syrian regime had Lebanon’s Prime Minister Rafik Hariri murdered. However, in the corrupt autocracies of the Middle East either (1) no one is supposed to say (2) or if someone says it they get killed or a relative disappears. The toppling of Saddam has begun to change this terrible, terrifying code. Mehlis has written a tough, accurate, and courageous report.”
Michael Totten: “Fear and apprehension turned to anger and relief in Beirut after the Mehlis report named Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law as the chief suspect, and Lebanese President Emile Lahoud as a possible accomplice, in the assassination of Rafik Hariri. … There was a rally that night at Martyr’s Square and across the street at the grave site of Rafik Hariri. Thousands gathered, sang patriotic songs … But for the most part the mood was jubilant. The truth was out after 250 days. U.N. special prosecutor Detlev Mehlis is a hero in Lebanon.”
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”.