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State Department Wittingly Letting Terrorists onto US Soil?

Delegates from a State Department designated foreign terrorist organization, the Lord’s Resistance Army, have been granted U.S. visas so they can travel to New York to meet the Security Council. Some background: The LRA is a militia that has terrorized the population of northern Uganda for nearly two decades. A peace deal, however, is in the works–and could even be signed by the LRA’s notorious leader as early as Thursday. One sticking point in the peace deal are what to do about the International Criminal Court indictments on the LRA’s leadership, and the delegates are hoping to press the Security Council to stay those indictments in the interest of peace.

The State Department’s decision to grant LRA delegates visas seems to signal that the United States is willing to at least countenance lifting the indictments. This is not entirely unreasonable. One possible solution to the justice v peace dilemma emerging from the peace talks in Northern Uganda, after all, is to exile Kony and his top lieutenants and temporarily lift the indictments in return for full compliance with the peace accord. This solution may make the ICC Prosecutor cringe, but it shows how politically useful these indictments can be as mechanisms to enforce a peace.

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Tuesday Morning Coffee

Congratulations Washington Post reporter Steve Fainaru for winning this year’s Pulitzer Prize for international reporting (full list). UN Dispatch expects to at least be nominated next year.

Top Stories

>>Olympics – Over 3,000 French police officers were unable to stop protesters along the route of the Olympic torch ceremony in Paris, the last leg of which has now been canceled. The torch, on a 58-day journey through 21 nations, was extinguished three times, and some Olympic officials have openly wondered whether that agenda should be cut short. China has vowed to continue. Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, said the executive board will decide on Friday whether the relay will continue. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has called for a boycott of the opening ceremonies.

>>Iran – President Ahmadenijad announced on Iran’s “national nuclear day” that the nation is installing 6,000 new centrifuges at its Natanz facility, which would triple the number. Iran maintains that it is enriching uranium for civilian purposes.

>>Iraq – As General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker prepare to deliver a progress report on Iraq to Congress today, Moqtada al-Sadr has agreed to disband his 60,000-strong al-Mahdi army if Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and other clergy based in Iran say he should. Al-Sadr’s spokesman said that he sought a similar ruling last year and was told to keep his militia intact. The announcement was unexpected given recent clashes between the Mahdi army and Iraqi security forces.

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Tuesday Morning Coffee

Congratulations Washington Post reporter Steve Fainaru for winning this year’s Pulitzer Prize for international reporting (full list). UN Dispatch expects to at least be nominated next year.

Top Stories

>>Olympics – Over 3,000 French police officers were unable to stop protesters along the route of the Olympic torch ceremony in Paris, the last leg of which has now been canceled. The torch, on a 58-day journey through 21 nations, was extinguished three times, and some Olympic officials have openly wondered whether that agenda should be cut short. China has vowed to continue. Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, said the executive board will decide on Friday whether the relay will continue. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has called for a boycott of the opening ceremonies.

>>Iran – President Ahmadenijad announced on Iran’s “national nuclear day” that the nation is installing 6,000 new centrifuges at its Natanz facility, which would triple the number. Iran maintains that it is enriching uranium for civilian purposes.

>>Iraq – As General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker prepare to deliver a progress report on Iraq to Congress today, Moqtada al-Sadr has agreed to disband his 60,000-strong al-Mahdi army if Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and other clergy based in Iran say he should. Al-Sadr’s spokesman said that he sought a similar ruling last year and was told to keep his militia intact. The announcement was unexpected given recent clashes between the Mahdi army and Iraqi security forces.

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A Step Toward Peace in Cote d’Ivoire

In the world of UN peacekeeping, a successful mission is one that gradually moves toward its own dissolution. In that light, there is good news coming out of Cote d’Ivoire. From the UN News Centre:

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Cote d’Ivoire has now dismantled almost all of its military observation posts in the former zone of confidence separating the Government-held and rebel-controlled areas of the country as part of last year’s accord ending active hostilities between the two sides.

Only two of the original 17 observation posts built inside the zone in the West African country remain operational, according to Colonel Mustapha Dafir, the military spokesperson for the mission, which is known as UNOCI.

This follows the UN’s handover of disarmament responsibilities to the Ivorian national government and represents another step toward securing the full peace and reconciliation that UNOCI is tasked with helping the country achieve. In meeting the benchmarks set out in a 2007 peace accord, UNOCI provides a good example of the path that UN peacekeeping missions aim to follow — a path that includes forming a transitional government and holding elections later this year and that will lead to the drawing down, and eventual departure, of the peacekeeping force.

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A Step Toward Peace in Cote d’Ivoire

In the world of UN peacekeeping, a successful mission is one that gradually moves toward its own dissolution. In that light, there is good news coming out of Cote d’Ivoire. From the UN News Centre:

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Cote d’Ivoire has now dismantled almost all of its military observation posts in the former zone of confidence separating the Government-held and rebel-controlled areas of the country as part of last year’s accord ending active hostilities between the two sides.

Only two of the original 17 observation posts built inside the zone in the West African country remain operational, according to Colonel Mustapha Dafir, the military spokesperson for the mission, which is known as UNOCI.

This follows the UN’s handover of disarmament responsibilities to the Ivorian national government and represents another step toward securing the full peace and reconciliation that UNOCI is tasked with helping the country achieve. In meeting the benchmarks set out in a 2007 peace accord, UNOCI provides a good example of the path that UN peacekeeping missions aim to follow — a path that includes forming a transitional government and holding elections later this year and that will lead to the drawing down, and eventual departure, of the peacekeeping force.

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Unsubstantiated Allegations Against the UN Development Program

Recently, the UN Development Program (UNDP), which provides developing countries with assistance combating poverty, improving democratic governance, and achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals, has faced accusations of corruption and mismanagement from certain quarters. Responding to an April 1 editorial in The Wall Street Journal that claimed the existence of “fraud and corruption in U.N. Development Program operations in North Korea,” UNDP Director of Communications David Morrison today provided a strong rebuttal to these groundless assertions.

When the concerns about UNDP’s program in North Korea were first raised, the secretary-general directed the U.N. Board of Auditors to conduct an audit of the program. Contrary to [WSJ's] assertion, the audit did not find “fraud and corruption.” Instead, the audit reported that UNDP, similar to other U.N. and foreign organizations, had to alter some of its programmatic and administrative practices to operate in North Korea — a fact of which UNDP board members, including the U.S., were well aware.

Morrison also cites a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report that also found no “fraud and corruption” in UNDP’s operations in North Korea. He goes on to quote Mark Wallace, the erstwhile UN Ambassador for Management reform whom the Journal’s editorial was extolling, as admitting that “we do not believe nor have we seen any corruption.”

When UN and U.S. auditing boards both find no instances of corruption, and the individual (Wallace) who has promulgated these charges also admits not having found corruption, one would think the matter settled. In the interest of full investigation, though, one more independent panel, chaired by former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth, will submit its findings in the North Korea matter within the next few months, and Morrison patiently advises skeptics to await its report.

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