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UNMIK Officer Killed

A Ukrainian police officer serving in Kosovo died today from wounds sustained during Monday’s riots in Mitrovica, a frequent flash point. The lightly armed UNMIK police were forced to withdraw from the city when the riot gained steam, and were replaced by NATO troops. Ban condemned the riots. Serb authorities blamed NATO of using excessive force. This video from Russia today gives you a sense of the scale of destruction visited on Mitrovica yesterday.

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Tuesday Morning Coffee

Top Stories

>>Russia – Today Secretaries Rice and Gates continue what has been widely reported as positive talks on missile defense, non-proliferation, and terrorism in Moscow. Yesterday Secretary Rice confirmed that President Bush had sent a letter to President Putin in the last few days proposing a new strategic framework for cooperation. On Sunday, Secretary Gates suggested that, in order to address Russian concerns about missile defense, the U.S. would not turn on certain elements of the system until Iran demonstrated that it had a missile that could reach Europe. President Putin endorsed portions of the letter on Monday. Secretary Rice is meeting with Kremlin opponents today.

>>Serbia – Yesterday, 100 UN riot police backed by NATO soldiers regained control of a courthouse in Mitrovica in northern Kosovo from which the UN had overseen local justice. The courthouse had been overrun by 300 Serbs on Friday, who refused to leave. The raid, in turn, sparked riots and machine gun and grenade attacks on UN police and NATO peacekeepers in the worst violence in northern Kosovo since Kosovo declared independence last month. One Ukrainian serving in the UN police force was killed by shrapnel, and UN personnel were force to pull out.

>>Pakistan – Pakistan’s new National Assembly, led by opponents of President Musharraf, was sworn in on Monday. Fahmida Mizda, a women and a close associate of Bhutto widower Asif Ali Zardari, has been named as the parliamentary speaker pending approval. Meanwhile, the leader of Pakistan’s lawyers’ movement has said that there will be nationwide protests if the Supreme Court, stacked by Musharraf, decides today to stall the parliamentary resolution to reinstate judges fired by Musharraf. Zardari has said that such a resolution should pass within 30 days.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch

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Peacekeepers in Chad

According to Reuters, the EU peacekeeping force in Chad has deployed sufficiently to be termed “operational.”

A European Union military force deploying in Chad’s eastern borderlands became operational on Monday, starting a one-year mission to protect refugees, civilians and humanitarian operations.

The force, called EUFOR, is expected eventually to have 3,700 troops from more than a dozen European countries. France, the former colonial power in Chad, is providing half the troops.

“The equipment and units currently available allow us to declare that EUFOR has achieved its initial operational capacity,” the EU force said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Even beyond the daunting task of protecting a half million refugees and displaced persons in a still-bubbling war zone, EUFOR faces significant operational challenges. It has already lost one French soldier, killed by the Sudanese military last month. Its neutrality is questioned by both the Sudanese government and Chadian rebels, and Chadian president Idriss Deby welcomes the force, but probably only inasmuch as it seems to provide support for his beleaguered regime.

Despite these dangers, the relative speed of EUFOR’s deployment — at least compared to that of the UN force scheduled to deploy in neighboring Darfur over two months ago — is welcome, and it should bring much-needed relief to those displaced in eastern Chad.

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World’s glaciers melting at record rate

From the UN News Center:

With global glaciers — a vital water source for millions, or even billions, of people worldwide — melting at a record rate, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) urged countries to agree on a new emissions reduction pact.

According to the UNEP-backed World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), data from nearly 30 reference glaciers in nine mountain ranges indicate that between the years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, the average rate of melting and thinning more than doubled.

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A Better Defender of Women’s Rights

I don’t work on reproductive health and rights on the international level, but I have worked on the national level and think that there’s obviously much work to do that could definitely make us “a better defender” for women’s rights internationally. Just last week a UN committee called the U.S. out for failing to address severe racial disparities that exist in reproductive health care.

So yes, we need to improve our conditions at home, but first there needs to be just a general recognition that these real problems exist rather than continuing to hold ourselves up on a pedestal as this champion of women’s rights, coming to save “the oppressed women” from “uncivilized” countries, and as Kavita said, which has been happening in the midst of this guise of fighting terror. One example is female genital cutting. While, as Michelle mentioned, the U.S.’s efforts to assist countries in getting the practice banned definitely isn’t a bad thing, what about recognizing that our own practices of “vaginal rejuvenation” or “labiaplasty” isn’t that far off? Yes, the two are still very different and I certainly wouldn’t say labiaplasty would be on the president’s top list of issues to address. I’m just saying is just the identification of certain problems that may be just as immediate here (such as the UN’s recent findings) as other countries and not placing ourselves in the superiority seat is a first step. And putting ourselves to a higher standard from that perspective will allow us to avoid the moral high ground and come from a less condescending and invasive place.

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Monday Morning Coffee

Top Stories

>>Tibet – China has closed Lhasa to visitors and blocked websites (including youtube) as violent protests continue there and spread to the neighboring Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu provinces. The Dalai Lama has said that he will not intervene to stop the protests, but instead called for an independent investigation into the “cultural genocide” that he says China is waging. Eighty Tibetans have been killed during the unrest. The Washington Post reports on the domestic politic aspects in China.

>>Iran – Conservatives appear to have won as much as a 70 percent majority in Iran’s parliamentary elections. Many reformist candidates had been barred from participating. However, some analysts believe that President Ahmadenijad may still face significant resistance from moderate conservatives disgruntled over the state of the economy teamed with reformists.

>>Iraq – As part of a congressional delegation, Senator John Mcain made a surprise visit to Iraq on Sunday. He’s scheduled to meet with Ryan Crocker, General Petraeus, and Prime Minister al-Maliki before traveling on to Jordan, Israel, France, and Britain. The LA Times takes a look at the history of his foreign policy.

UN Dispatch

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