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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.

Read more.

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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

The Rest of the Story

Europe

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7299151.stm">Sarkozy’s
    UMP suffers poll rebuke
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7299993.stm">Milosevic
    allies trial to begin
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7299953.stm">Militants
    extend hostage deadline
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/business/7299203.stm">Alitalia
    accepts Air France offer
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/cc7018bc-f38a-11dc-b6bc-0000779fd2ac.html">Italy
    dreaming of a new political class
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/43769aa2-f2bf-11dc-9167-0000779fd2ac.html">Five
    killed in Albania factory blast
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/mar/17/theairlineindustry?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews%0A%20%20%20%20%20%20">Alitalia
    agrees to Air France-KLM takeover

Americas

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7299964.stm">First
    coca find in Brazil Amazon
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/16/weekinreview/16rubin.html?ex=1363320000&en=73987f98359d5403&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">The
    World: Aloft, With a Silent Companion
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/business/media/17nbc.html?ex=1363406400&en=d8cf2cf2489e6149&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Telemundo
    Is Said to Have Struck Deal in Mexico
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/us/17chiquita.html?ex=1363406400&en=b80e4adfc7d13b80&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Families
    Sue Chiquita in Deaths of 5 Men
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/world/americas/17guatemala.html?ex=1363406400&en=0e9436e80b599ea7&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">4
    Freed in Guatemala

Africa

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7299534.stm">Deadly
    clashes in west DR Congo
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7279864.stm">Hard
    times at Kenya’s desert school
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/9a829716-f381-11dc-b6bc-0000779fd2ac.html">Makoni
    pledges government of national unity
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article3564427.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Lions
    fall victim to land fight at Hemingway’s treasured reserve

Asia

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/252827002/idUSISL5453620080317%0A%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20">Suicide
    attack on NATO force kills 3 Afghans
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7299965.stm">China
    denies Tibet death reports
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7299986.stm">New
    parliament opens in Pakistan
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7300031.stm">Three
    die in Afghan suicide blast
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7299992.stm">Indian
    spy convict ‘faces death’
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/world/asia/17remit.html?ex=1363406400&en=81094daada4cc4bb&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">World
    Banker and His Cash Return Home
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/de5ed05a-f375-11dc-b6bc-0000779fd2ac.html">India
    warns UK on immigration rules
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/89bcdc10-f1f7-11dc-9b45-0000779fd2ac.html">Japan
    hints at withdrawing its BoJ candidate
  • href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/16/AR2008031600840.html?nav=rss_world">Airstrike
    Kills 18 in Pakistan
  • href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/16/AR2008031602436.html?nav=rss_world">4
    FBI Agents Hurt in Islamabad Blast

Middle East

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/252805056/idUSL1423698820080317%0A%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20">Millions
    of Iraqis lack water, healthcare: Red Cross
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/middle_east/7296353.stm">Funeral
    Mass for Iraqi archbishop
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/world/middleeast/17bremer.html?ex=1363406400&en=04b6b6de60ce9cc1&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Five
    Years In: Fateful Choice on Iraq Army Bypassed Debate
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/world/middleeast/04youth.html?ex=1362283200&en=522c34a5b6968b35&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Generation
    Faithful: Violence Leaves Young Iraqis Doubting Clerics
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/world/middleeast/17mideast.html?ex=1363406400&en=aa4776dadece297f&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Bitter
    Protest in Jerusalem Over Attack at Seminary
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/movies/17arts-IRANBANSPICT_BRF.html?ex=1363406400&en=dbf3a908e3f0b06b&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Iran
    Bans Pictures of Foreign Film Stars
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/d132d1e2-f3a2-11dc-b6bc-0000779fd2ac.html">Oil
    tops Cheney’s Middle East tour agenda
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3564627.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Diplomatic
    ‘surge’ to boost Middle East peace
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3564198.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Two
    decades on, war victims of Saddam Hussein’s gas attacks draw their last
    breath
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3564572.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Israel
    welcomes new Germany to a celebration of its 60th birthday

Oceania

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/252740688/idUSSYD6606220080317%0A%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20">Australia
    WW2 warship found, ends 66-year mystery
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UN Plaza: Amb. Thomas Pickering on Iraq

In this installment of UN Plaza, Ambassador Thomas Pickering discusses his new article in Survival in which the former UN Ambassador explores the possibility of a greater UN role in Iraq.

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Peace and Democracy in West Africa

The Washington Post‘s Craig Timberg reports on the progress made by many of the counties in the region:

Civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast have ended, and although Ivory Coast has yet to hold its first postwar vote, Liberia and Sierra Leone have elected leaders with popular mandates. Regional giant Nigeria, where military rule ended in 1999, has had a series of deeply flawed votes, but the disputes are being settled in an increasingly independent court system.

These countries are all freer, more stable and more democratic than they were a decade ago, regional analysts say. Peace, however fragile, is the norm rather than war. And citizens of these nations increasingly are demanding responsive governance from their leaders.

Why is West Africa experiencing this improvement, when much of East Africa is embroiled in conflict? Timberg focuses much of his article on the positive influence of burgeoning democracies like Ghana, which has benefited from its peaceful electoral transitions and successful handling of any regional or ethnic tensions. Along with this explanation, though, Timberg highlights another factor:

The exile and prosecution of Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, who spread conflict to the country’s neighbors, has helped stabilize the region, as have U.N. peacekeeping missions.

UN peacekeepers are not just a band-aid to respond to emergencies. The secure environment that they provide, as their success in countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone demonstrates, provides a foundation for long-term development across the entire region.

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