Author Archives: Peter Daou
“UNICEF warned Sunday that lost and orphaned children were among the most vulnerable survivors of the earthquake in South Asia and would need urgent help to survive in the cold and mountainous areas.
They would need assistance to find surviving relatives and eventually to overcome the trauma of the disaster, David Bull, executive director of the UN’s Children Fund in Britain, told the BBC World Service.
“We know that children in an earthquake situation are vulnerable to injury, cold, hunger, distress, illness, exploitation and the loss of their active education, separation from their families,” he said.” [Read more]
“The International Atomic Energy Agency and its chief Mohamed ElBaradei won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2005, the prize’s custodians announced today, saying that they hoped it will strengthen the United Nations organization and help stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
“This is a message to all people in the world to help abolish all nuclear weapons,” said the chairman of the prize committee, Ole Danbold Mjos, after announcing the winner beneath crystal chandeliers in a small vaulted room on the third floor of the Norwegian Nobel Institute here. Mr. ElBaradei and the agency will share the prize.
Mr. ElBaradei, 63, has championed the peaceful use of nuclear energy while emphasizing quiet diplomacy in trying to dissuade countries from using the technology to develop weapons.
He has been at the center of non-proliferation crises involving all three states that President Bush once labeled the axis of evil, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Iran and North Korea.” [Read more]
A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary
Mobjectivist: “Finally, someone noticed the lack of balance in the so-called Iraq Oil-For-Food (OFF) scandal stories over the past few years… as of June of this year, the geniuses at Powerline blog had contributed a total of 26 stories on oil-for-food but none on peak oil/oil depletion.”
Scrutiny Hooligans: “I heard on NPR this morning that the Shiite/Kurd coalition reversed themselves and returned to the original rules regarding this referendum. *loud sigh of relief* It appears that the U.N. still has some oomph in this regard. Here’s to you, Kofi, for helping to defend democracy where others might seek to subvert it.”
Hit and Run: “With the president’s opponents always ready to call him a dictator, I feel compelled to tamp down the Chicken Little panic over totalitarianism created by President Bush’s suggestion that he might use the military to quarantine areas hit by the avian flu. [I]t wasn’t Bush who first raised the possibility (at least not in public). He was replying to a question about the possibility.: “…during my meetings at the United Nations, not only did I speak about it publicly, I spoke about it privately to as many leaders as I could find, about the need for there to be awareness, one, of the issue; and, two, reporting, rapid reporting to WHO, so that we can deal with a potential pandemic. Obviously, the best way to deal with a pandemic is to isolate it and keep it isolated in the region in which it begins.”
In the Bullpen: “Yes…the nuclear program that “doesn’t exist” won’t be used for “peaceful purposes only” it seems. From the Washington Times: “Iran’s new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has placed the military firmly in control of his nation’s nuclear program, undercutting his government’s claim that the program is intended for civilian use, according to a leading opposition group. … “The military under the new president is firmly in control of the nuclear program and the nuclear negotiations with the United Nations and the West,” said Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the NCRI’s foreign affairs committee, in a telephone interview yesterday.”
Moquol: “Iraq Parliament Reverses Rule Change: “Iraq’s National Assembly voted on Wednesday to reverse last-minute changes it had made to rules for next week’s referendum on a new constitution following criticism by the United Nations and a boycott threat by the Sunni minority.” This story doesn’t do a great job of explaining the sham Khalilzad and the US and the Iraqi government were trying to pull on the Iraqi people. You can see the writer’s agenda as well, describing the system set up to ensure minority and regional representation as a “loophole.” But the UN did their job (funny how they keep seeming to do that despite being mocked and belittled at every turn by the US) and shamed the Iraqi government into restoring the rules everyone had agreed to.”
Penraker: “After loads of jibber jabber about how Sunnis in Iraq hate the new constitution, we finally have some data. The Iraqi Center for Development and International Dialogue (partially funded by the United Nations) says: “Although support for the constitution was particularly high in the northern Kurdish areas and southern regions dominated by Shi’ites, Mr. Hafedh said it topped 50 percent even in central provinces known as the heartland of Sunni unrest — a sign, he said, that the Sunni-Shi’ite split is not as wide as many fear.”
Voice in the Wilderness: “It seems that — surprise! — the Afghanistan elections have been found to have been, as Carlotta Gail of The New York Times puts it, rife with “significant incidents of fraud.” In Monday’s paper, she writes: “Whole districts have come under suspicion for ballot box stuffing and proxy voting, said Peter Erben, the chief of the United Nations-assisted Joint Election Management Board. He said ballot boxes from 4 percent of the 26,000 polling places – about 1,000 stations – had been set aside for investigation on suspicion of fraud and other irregularities. (Read the entire article.)”
UN News Service: Criticizing changes that the Iraqi Parliament made on Sunday to rules for this month’s constitutional referendum as “patently inappropriate,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan called today’s reversal of the decision “very important,” but said the transition process in the war-torn country has not “worked as we had hoped.”
Selected summary of United Nations related news and events
UN Legal Counsel urges action to complete comprehensive terrorism convention
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”.