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For the Record

The Undersecretary General for Management responds to last week’s front page Washington Post article on rising costs at the U.N.

The March 21 front-page story “Expenses at U.N. Balloon 25 Percent; U.S. Demands on Body Help Drive Up Budget” suggested that the United Nations recently “presented its top donors with a request for nearly $1.1 billion in additional funds.” The implication is that spending is out of control and member states are saddled with the consequences.

But the General Assembly approved the $4.1 billion budget. All additional costs reflect new demands from members, notably the United States, particularly in peace and security. The United Nations does not “present” bills to its members; it acts upon their instructions.

A “doubling” of “administrative costs” is stated as part of the problem. The budget includes mounting costs of special political missions, including Iraq and Afghanistan. By no stretch can these be considered “administrative costs.”

The costs of U.N. operations are spiraling upward because they have never been more in demand.

ALICIA BARCENA
Undersecretary General
Department of Management
United Nations
New York

| Leave a comment

Monday Morning Coffee

Dith Pran, a New York Times photojournalist, chronicler of the devastation wrought by the Khmer Rouge, and basis for the The Killing Fields, died on Sunday.

Top Stories

>>Zimbabwe – The results from Saturday’s presidential election in Zimbabwe have not been officially released, however the opposition is claiming a landslide victory over Robert Mugabe, who has held power for 28 years. A government spokesman responded by saying that such a claim “is called a coup d’etat and we all know how coups are handled.” Delayed reporting by the Zimbabwe Election Commission, which election monitors say should already have the results, has raised concerns that the ruling party would engage in underhanded tactics to fix the election. In the limited results that have already been announced, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, a member of Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, has already lost his seat.

>>Iraq – Yesterday Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for his followers to cease hostilities and demanded concessions from the Iraq’s government after six days of fighting in Basra, which, according to some calculations, has claimed more than 240 lives. Iraq’s government has announced that it will not stop its attack, and British troops previously stationed at Basra airport have entered the battle for the first time. Plans for a drawdown of British troops will be postponed in light of the new insecurity in Basra.

>>Korea – A North Korean military commander has been quoted as saying, “Our military will not sit idle until warmongers launch a pre-emptive strike … Everything will be in ashes, not just a sea of fire, if our advanced pre-emptive strike once begins.” This statement is the most recent escalation in a war of words that began when South Korea’s new president threatened to halt new aid and speak out on human rights abuses should the North not abandon its nuclear program. The new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in South Korea said last week that the South would strike North Korean nuclear bases in response to a North Korean attack but said that he had no plans for a pre-emptive attack.

>>Uganda – LRA commander Joseph Kony is walking to the Sudan-Congo border to sign a final peace agreement with the government of Uganda.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch

The Rest of the Story

Africa

  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/audio/2008/mar/31/chris.mcgreal.harare?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Audio:
    Chris McGreal reports from Harare
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/audio/2008/mar/31/guardian.daily.podcast?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Guardian
    Daily podcast: Zimbabwe moves for change
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/260902411/idUSL2373136820080330">WITNESS:
    Running in Kenya’s land of the champions

w:st="on">Americas

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7322173.stm">Venezuela
    bombs drugs airstrips
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261003931/idUSN3034370520080331">Costa
    Rican minister steps down over FARC comments
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/mar/31/biofuels.energy?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Letters:
    Brazil sugars the pill on biofuels
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/31/argentina?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Farmers
    meet president as strike grips Argentina
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7321168.stm">Chavez
    ‘stifles Venezuelan media’

Asia

  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3648894.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Nicolas
    Sarkozy to lay out Afghan troop plans as class=SpellE>Nato struggles
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/mar/31/military.afghanistan?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Two
    British marines dead in Afghan blast
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261161332/idUSISL7451920080331"> class=SpellE>Musharraf swears in 24 members of Pakistan cabinet
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261195112/idUSBKK27768020080331">Proposed
    Myanmar charter bars Suu Kyi
    from office
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7322179.stm">Dutch class=SpellE>MP’s film angers Indonesia
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261114970/idUSPEK3617020080331">China
    arrests suspect in schoolgirl rapes
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261077896/idUSPEK1211120080331">China
    blasts Dalai Lama as Olympic torch arrives
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261036041/AR2008033001835.html">Bush
    to Meet NATO Allies Divided Over Adding Troops in Afghanistan
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261036046/AR2008033001844.html">New
    Joint Effort Aims to Empower Afghan Tribes to Guard Themselves
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261036049/AR2008032902033.html">British
    Troops, Taliban In a Tug of War Over Afghan Province
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/31/world/asia/31flirt.html?ex=1364616000&en=50fe4463696383b0&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Flirting
    by Text Message, Indians Test Social Limits
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261021375/idUSPEK20334520080331">Security
    tight as Olympic flame arrives in China
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261006008/idUST2844920080331">Japan
    PM in pinch as voters favor cheaper gasoline

Europe

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261178140/idUSL3149391120080331">Czech
    PM says U.S. radar deal almost ready: paper
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261114969/idUSL3106082420080331">Split
    looms in Hungarian coalition after sacking
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3648953.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">‘Le
    scrapbooking‘ takes France by storm
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/10f40df2-fea5-11dc-9e04-000077b07658.html">Iceland
    counters alleged attacks
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/260869467/idUSN2931222120080330">France
    offers plane if Betancourt released
Leave a comment

Monday Morning Coffee

Dith Pran, a New York Times photojournalist, chronicler of the devastation wrought by the Khmer Rouge, and basis for the The Killing Fields, died on Sunday.

Top Stories

>>Zimbabwe – The results from Saturday’s presidential election in Zimbabwe have not been officially released, however the opposition is claiming a landslide victory over Robert Mugabe, who has held power for 28 years. A government spokesman responded by saying that such a claim “is called a coup d’etat and we all know how coups are handled.” Delayed reporting by the Zimbabwe Election Commission, which election monitors say should already have the results, has raised concerns that the ruling party would engage in underhanded tactics to fix the election. In the limited results that have already been announced, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, a member of Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, has already lost his seat.

>>Iraq – Yesterday Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for his followers to cease hostilities and demanded concessions from the Iraq’s government after six days of fighting in Basra, which, according to some calculations, has claimed more than 240 lives. Iraq’s government has announced that it will not stop its attack, and British troops previously stationed at Basra airport have entered the battle for the first time. Plans for a drawdown of British troops will be postponed in light of the new insecurity in Basra.

>>Korea – A North Korean military commander has been quoted as saying, “Our military will not sit idle until warmongers launch a pre-emptive strike … Everything will be in ashes, not just a sea of fire, if our advanced pre-emptive strike once begins.” This statement is the most recent escalation in a war of words that began when South Korea’s new president threatened to halt new aid and speak out on human rights abuses should the North not abandon its nuclear program. The new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in South Korea said last week that the South would strike North Korean nuclear bases in response to a North Korean attack but said that he had no plans for a pre-emptive attack.

>>Uganda – LRA commander Joseph Kony is walking to the Sudan-Congo border to sign a final peace agreement with the government of Uganda.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch

The Rest of the Story

Africa

  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/audio/2008/mar/31/chris.mcgreal.harare?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Audio:
    Chris McGreal reports from Harare
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/audio/2008/mar/31/guardian.daily.podcast?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Guardian
    Daily podcast: Zimbabwe moves for change
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/260902411/idUSL2373136820080330">WITNESS:
    Running in Kenya’s land of the champions

w:st="on">Americas

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7322173.stm">Venezuela
    bombs drugs airstrips
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261003931/idUSN3034370520080331">Costa
    Rican minister steps down over FARC comments
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/mar/31/biofuels.energy?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Letters:
    Brazil sugars the pill on biofuels
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/31/argentina?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Farmers
    meet president as strike grips Argentina
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7321168.stm">Chavez
    ‘stifles Venezuelan media’

Asia

  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3648894.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Nicolas
    Sarkozy to lay out Afghan troop plans as class=SpellE>Nato struggles
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/mar/31/military.afghanistan?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Two
    British marines dead in Afghan blast
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261161332/idUSISL7451920080331"> class=SpellE>Musharraf swears in 24 members of Pakistan cabinet
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261195112/idUSBKK27768020080331">Proposed
    Myanmar charter bars Suu Kyi
    from office
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7322179.stm">Dutch class=SpellE>MP’s film angers Indonesia
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261114970/idUSPEK3617020080331">China
    arrests suspect in schoolgirl rapes
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261077896/idUSPEK1211120080331">China
    blasts Dalai Lama as Olympic torch arrives
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261036041/AR2008033001835.html">Bush
    to Meet NATO Allies Divided Over Adding Troops in Afghanistan
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261036046/AR2008033001844.html">New
    Joint Effort Aims to Empower Afghan Tribes to Guard Themselves
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/261036049/AR2008032902033.html">British
    Troops, Taliban In a Tug of War Over Afghan Province
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/31/world/asia/31flirt.html?ex=1364616000&en=50fe4463696383b0&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Flirting
    by Text Message, Indians Test Social Limits
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261021375/idUSPEK20334520080331">Security
    tight as Olympic flame arrives in China
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261006008/idUST2844920080331">Japan
    PM in pinch as voters favor cheaper gasoline

Europe

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261178140/idUSL3149391120080331">Czech
    PM says U.S. radar deal almost ready: paper
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/261114969/idUSL3106082420080331">Split
    looms in Hungarian coalition after sacking
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3648953.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">‘Le
    scrapbooking‘ takes France by storm
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/10f40df2-fea5-11dc-9e04-000077b07658.html">Iceland
    counters alleged attacks
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/260869467/idUSN2931222120080330">France
    offers plane if Betancourt released
1 Comment

UN Plaza: Talking Somalia

In this week’s UN Plaza, Matthew Lee and I cover a host of issues, including francophones at the UN, Northern Uganda, and circumstances surrounding the assassination attempt on East Timor president Jose Ramos Horta. In the segment below, we discuss Ban’s recently released report on Somalia.

| Leave a comment

UN Plaza: Talking Somalia

In this week’s UN Plaza, Matthew Lee and I cover a host of issues, including francophones at the UN, Northern Uganda, and circumstances surrounding the assassination attempt on East Timor president Jose Ramos Horta. In the segment below, we discuss Ban’s recently released report on Somalia.

| Leave a comment

Breaking the Silence on Rape in the Congo

thegreatestsilence.jpg

HBO is poised to shine a light on the terrible human tragedy of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On Tuesday, April 8 the station will air The Greatest Silence, a ground breaking documentary that exposes the scale and brutality of rape in the Congo (view the trailer). The Enough Campaign and HBO are teaming up to coordinate house screenings around the United States. (Click here to find or organize a screening near you.) The following evening you can join filmmaker, Lisa Jackson; ENOUGH Co-Chair, John Prendergast; and the Director of Public Policy at the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Kiersten Stewart in a conference call to discuss the film and discover practical ways that you can end violence against women in the DRC.

In the meantime, you can brief yourself on the situation by reading this chilling Enough Campaign report on sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

According to the International Rescue Committee’s latest study of mortality in Congo, death rates there remain unchanged since the end of the regional war that tore through Africa’s Great Lakes region from 1998 to 2004. By the end of this and every month, 45,000 more Congolese–half of them children–will die from hunger, preventable disease, and other consequences of violence and displacement.

Congolese women and girls in particular bear the vicious brunt of this crisis. Indeed, eastern Congo right now is perhaps the worst place in the world to be a woman or a girl. The sexual violence and rape exists on a scale seen nowhere else in the world as it is part and parcel of the conflict. It mutilates and humiliates. Its nature is brutal and vicious; it defies both description and imagination. Often successful in its intent to destroy and exterminate, rape as a weapon of war is causing the near total destruction of women, their families, and their communities.

Read the full report (pdf).

| 1 Comment

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