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Dangers on the Ground

On the heels of World Food Day, highlighting the “inherent human right of every woman, man, girl and boy, wherever they live on this planet” to food, comes news that the head of the World Food Program in Somalia, Idris Osman, has been abducted by government troops, in turn highlighting the danger that UN workers on the ground endure in an attempt to guarantee that right. (You’ll no doubt remember that earlier this month, 10 UN peacekeepers were killed in Sudan.)

In Somalia WFP workers also have had to deal with a festering insurgency lead by the Union of Islamic Courts and clan-based militias and piracy off the horn of Africa that threatens 80 percent of aid delivery. Despite those difficulties, WFP workers had been engaged in a campaign to deliver aid to 2 million Somalis (that work has been temporarily suspended due to this abduction).

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Malaria Woodstock

by Elizabeth McKee Gore

In Seattle today, 250 leaders in the malaria space interacted at the first ever Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Malaria Forum. Leadership from vaccine research, drug research, vector control, social mobilization and advocacy were convened by the Gates Foundation to share successes, ideas and frustrations in the road towards a significant reduction in malaria morbidity and mortality. Regina Rabinovich, Director of Infectious Diseases Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, opened the forum with a focus on great opportunity to build on progress and an elusive tool called momentum.

The theme of the Forum is Collaboration, Innovation, and Impact. It is certainly innovative to have researchers, scientists, development workers, fundraisers and advocates engaged in the same conversations.Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, announced a study released today with Roll Back Malaria exhibiting new facts and figures for malaria. Good news? Yes, malaria rates are down, the Global Fund has increased malaria funding by 10 times, long-lasting insecticide-treated nets are reducing deaths for children under five, four new ACT’s are about to come on the market and vaccine research is taking place with eight candidates.

At the same time, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Chair of Roll Back Malaria and Minister of Health of Ethiopia stated, “While it is a success that companies manufactured 63 million nets, it is a continued problem that only 43 million were procured.”

For this reason, Nothing But Nets, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, was highlighted by Regina Rabinovich. She pointed out the importance of new partners such as the NBA, Major League Soccer, the United Methodist Church and Lutheran World relief to the increase of funding for coverage — and to meet a world wide goal of 80% coverage.

To sum up the day, I would like to highlight a final quote: Regina Rabinovich, “A malaria death in a family is a catastrophe, put all those deaths together — it is an unacceptable global calamity.”

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Bloggers on UNCLOS

Matt Stoller gets the significance of the UNCLOS:

Without being able to pass the very basic Law of the Sea treaty, there is no way we will ever get a treaty through on global warming, create the space to internationalize the Iraq mess, or work with allies abroad in any coherent manner. Fortunately, this is extremely winnable. All it will take is some floor time from Reid, and we’ll win, embarrass, and marginalize the hyper-nationalists.

Conventional wisdom has it that these kinds of treaties are DOA in the Senate. UNCLOS seriously challenges that assumption. (This is probably why the people that Taylor Marsh calls the “anti-UN black helicopter crowd” are so frightened of its passage.)

Ratifying LOS would makes future treaty ratification battles that much easier. And these are not treaties that will come up in the distant future. Negotiations over a post-Kyoto global environmental pact will begin in Bali in December. Should the Senate ratify UNCLOS, there is no reason to think that a strong accord coming out of the Bali process will automatically go the way of the Kyoto Protocal when it hits the Senate.

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Bloggers worldwide issue a call to save the planet

For the first-ever United Nations-backed Blog Action Day, thousands of bloggers from across the globe will join forces to push for environmental protection.

More than 12 million readers have viewed the 15,000 blogs – ranging from those promoting gardening such as “” to sites providing tips for those interested in web businesses such as “” – participating in the event, supported by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).


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Full-text RSS Feeds

In part due to the good arguments made in these two posts (here and here), I just created a full-text RSS feed for UN Dispatch.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with RSS feeds, check out this primer. It’s worth your time. Personally I use (and heartily recommend) Google Reader as my news reader.

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VIDEO: Al Gore’s response to Nobel Win

Al Gore speaks out at a press conference on his recently announced Nobel Prize win.

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