Author Archives: Peter Daou
From the Washington Post: “High-ranking Syrian officials and their Lebanese allies were involved in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, with suspicion cast even on President Emile Lahoud, a U.N. investigation said on Thursday.
The inquiry into the February 14 killing, led by veteran German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, has established “that many leads point directly toward Syrian security officials as being involved with the assassination,” said the investigation report submitted to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council.” [Full Article]
Blogs commenting on The Mehlis Report:
“The logistical challenge of reaching the hundreds
of thousands of people in desperate need of assistance
after an earthquake struck Pakistan, northern India and
Afghanistan on 8 October is one of the toughest the
aid world has ever faced.” WFP
BBC: “The UN says the shortfall in aid for victims of the South Asian quake has made the relief situation worse than after last December’s tsunami.
UN emergency relief chief, Jan Egeland, said the organisation had never seen such a “logistical nightmare.”
Nato began flying in 900 tonnes of aid on Thursday, but Mr Egeland said a massive airlift was also needed to bring people out of remote areas. Pakistan says nearly 50,000 people died in areas under its control.
Local officials put casualties far higher, and the number is expected to rise. At least 1,400 others died in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials say.”
A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary
Matthew Good: “UN relief chief, Jan Egeland, today called the continuing humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Asia due to the recent earthquake worse than that following last year’s tsunami. According to Egeland, “We have never had this kind of logistical nightmare ever. We thought the tsunami was the worst we could get. This is worse.” Mr Egeland said only $86m had been pledged of the £312m the UN had asked for to fund the relief operation – and far less actually received in hard cash.”
Blogging Baby: “The “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” program raises money for kids in need every year thanks to the efforts of kids, parents and teachers. Totshop is making the fundraising boxes available free for young philanthropists. I’ve never run across anyone collecting money with these boxes, but according to the website, the program has been around for 53 years and has raised $119 million so far.”
Irish Pennants: “Syria is about to take center stage – in the war on terror. In a report due next week, UN investigator Detlev Mehlis is likely to finger regime officials in the murder last year of anti-Syrian Lebanese politician Rafik Hariri, and an unlikely alliance between the U.S. and France will prod the UN into adopting sanctions.”
oD Blogs: “I’d like to share an example of how the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, of which International Alert is a founding member, is working to implement [UN Security Council Resolution] 1325 at the UN level, what we are doing at UN Headquarters 5 years on and who will be taking part in our October Advocacy Program next week, on which I will be posting regular updates on this blog. To mark the 5th anniversary of SCR 1325, the NGO Working Group on WPS will bring women leaders and peacemakers to United Nations Headquarters in New York from October 21-28, 2005. These women peacemakers will advise senior UN officials and government representatives on how to resolve conflicts in their countries and fully involve women in peace and security decision-making.”
Selected summary of United Nations related news and events
A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary
Political Animal: “Former New York Times UN bureau chief Barbara Crossette writes about Judith Miller’s reporting on Kofi Annan and the oil-for-food scandal: “Obscured behind the large issues of weapons of mass destruction and Joseph Wilson’s links with the CIA is another story.”
Moderate Voice: “Condi Rice Explains The Iraq War – But did she leave out a central argument, one which the administration used to the American public, Congress and the United Nations to go into Iraq, ENTIRELY?”
Global Voices Online: “In a career spanning over 40 years, Miriam Makeba, still regal at 73, is marking the end of her performing years with a 14-month farewell tour she says to thank the people in the countries where she has performed. Miriam Makeba or Mama Africa as she is fondly known is visiting as many countries as she can and has recently vowed audiences in Cuba where one reviewer called her concert ‘unforgettable and magisterial’. As well as the prodigious production of numerous albums, Miriam Makeba is also involved in humanitarian work such as being an Ambassador for the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations). While in exile in Guinea, where she served as a Guinean delegate to the United Nations, she addressed the UN’s National Assembly about apartheid. She has also set up the Makeba Centre Rehabilitation Centre for Girls which works with street children where she will be focusing her strengths after the tour. Miriam Makeba, an extraordinary artiste whose music lives on through the decades, is Africa’s greatest musical ambassador.”
Prufrock’s Page: “Hari Kunzru cancels his trip to the Maldives, and explains why: “The reason the Maldives appears such an unspoilt paradise, is because tourists are kept segregated from ordinary Maldivians. Apart from the capital island, Male, outsiders are only permitted onto inhabited islands for brief visits. Were they to see a little more they’d realise they were in a place in the grip of deep crisis. The United Nations recently found more than 30 per cent of children under five were suffering from malnutrition. The acute deprivation, along with the lack of democracy, is pushing some traditional muslim communities into the arms of fundamentalists.”
Stygius: “While I ruefully admit that this blog has increasingly become a platform for my partisan hackery — when I’ve always wanted it to be a more analytically-focused page — self-imposed time constraints on blogging limit what I can produce. One regret is that I don’t focus more on terrorism and proliferation — and the need to come up with a results-focused, de-politicized/bipartisan counterproliferation scheme — a drum I beat continually during the opposition to the John Bolton UN nomination. It is widely agreed to be the most pervasive threat to the United States, and yet policy-wise it seems we are still groping around in the darkness as various neo-Reaganite ideologues more obsessed with castrating effective counterproliferation programs like Nunn-Lugar impede policy. From the people that matter, there is a stunning lack of leadership on this issue. Now, Sam Nunn’s Nuclear Threat Initiative is turning from their usual wonkery in the halls of power to appealing directly to Americans with their short “docu-drama,” Last Best Chance.”
“United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today praised the bravery of the Iraqi people for voting in Saturday’s constitutional referendum and voiced hope that their use of “ballots not bullets” would bode well for the future.
“The Iraqi population showed incredible courage, going to vote in large numbers despite the security situation on the ground,” he told reporters at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
The constitutional process should have been “an exercise that would have been totally inclusive, and pull together all the Iraqis, helping with reconciliation,” he said, adding: “Obviously, that did not happen.”
Asked whether the referendum would foster change, he said it would be difficult to predict what would happen after the votes are counted. “I think your question implies, would the violence cease after this process? I don’t think we can legitimately expect that, given the facts and what we know,” he said.
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”.