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UN Population Fund joins others to launch campaign in DRC against sexual violence

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Last week, the United Nations Population Fund joined civil society groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to launch a campaign raising public awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence in the DRC.

The campaign will run for the next month with a number of efforts including marches, conferences, forums, school events and endeavors to popularize laws against sexual violence.

There are 1,100 rape cases reported each month in the DRC. Additionally, victims of sexual violence are often left with little to access to help. Yakin Erturk, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, says not only that the justice system is in “deplorable conditions,” but that victims often have to pay access to the courts, which she describes as “a major obstacle to justice.”

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Attacks on Aid Workers Threatening Relief Operations in Darfur

From the UN News Center:

Attacks against aid workers in western Sudan have reached unprecedented levels, jeopardizing vital relief operations in the war-wracked Darfur region, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator said today.

In a statement released in Khartoum by her office, Ameerah Haq said the humanitarian community operating in Sudan condemned all acts of violence taking place in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting Government forces and allied militia since 2003.

On Monday Mohamed Ali, a driver contracted by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), was shot dead and his assistant was seriously injured by unidentified assailants while traveling on the main route into Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state.

Read more.

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Thursday Morning Coffee

Starting 5

>>Korea – South Korea’s new government announced on Wednesday that it would speak out against North Korean human rights abuses and that aid would not be expanded until the North abandons its nuclear weapons program. North Korea responded by expelling 11 South Korean officials from the Kaesong joint industrial site, once a model of cooperation between the North and South. South Korea also stated this week that it would vote for a UN Human Rights Council resolution criticizing North Korea and calling for a full investigation.

>>Iraq – Prime Minister Maliki set a 72-hour deadline for Shia militia to lay down their weapons and avoid prosecution as fighting continued between 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and armed groups in Basra. The 4,100 British troops stationed at the Basra airport are not taking part in the crackdown. Iraqi and American troops have also been deployed to surround Sadr City in Baghdad, the home of Moqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army, which is still maintaining its declared ceasefire. Sadr followers marched in protest, some saying that Maliki is working in league with al Sadr’s Shia rivals, the Supreme Islamic Iraq Council and the Badr Brigades, in an attempt to lessen his power prior to October provincial election.

>>Russa/U.S. – President Bush, who travels to Europe next week, has been invited by Russian president Putin to meet and attempt to iron out conflicts over possible NATO expansion into Georgia and the Ukraine and missile defense. It is likely to be their last meeting before Putin is replaced as president by Dmitri Medvedev, who will attend the meetings in his first substantial interaction with President Bush.

>>Somalia – The al Shabab islamic forces briefly captured Jowhar, a strategically placed town 50 miles north of Mogadishu, yestreday, releasing prisoners and taking weapons. In the past month, the faction has done the same in six towns in southern Somalia. The raid follows a a statement delivered to the UN Security Council by 40 NGOs on Tuesday warning of an “impending humanitarian crisis” in Somalia. The statement claims that nearly a million Somalis have been displaced. The Somali army is in shambles.

>>Iran – Iran has threatening legal action against the West for losses sustained from what it claims were illegal UN Security Council Sanctions passed on March 3. The threats were delivered in a letter from Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. It is not yet clear where Iran would present such a case.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch

The Rest of the Story


Africa

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7315448.stm">Angola
    to host landmine pageant
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/26/zimbabwe1?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Mugabe’s
    opponents ‘forced to eat election posters’
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7315744.stm">Comoran
    rebel seeks asylum
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/world/middleeast/27egypt.html?ex=1364356800&en=3e211c58383861c6&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Navy
    Says Egyptian Died in Suez Clash
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article3628859.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">White
    farmer faces prison in Zimbabwe for refusing to give up dairy land
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7315846.stm">Tsvangirai
    ‘surprised’ by support
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7315137.stm">Arrests
    over Ethiopia’s fake gold
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/51e59d0a-fb56-11dc-8c3e-000077b07658.html">Nigerian
    ministers sacked in graft probe
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/katine/2008/mar/26/lra.background?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">How
    Joseph Kony is keeping his options open
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258345989/idUSL2617181020080326">Mugabe
    opponents would unite for run-off: campaign
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7314377.stm">Mugabe
    rival is ‘denied adverts’

Americas

  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/world/americas/27argentina.html?ex=1364356800&en=2c1157d73e58c6c1&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Argentine
    Farmers Vow to Press Strike Over Tax
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7315813.stm">More
    US passport ‘file breaches’
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/mar/27/conservation.realitytv?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">British
    reality TV crew accused as flu kills four in isolated Peruvian tribe
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/washington/27indict.html?ex=1364356800&en=728f6c1271e8db38&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">U.S.
    Says Hussein Spy Agency and Iraqi-American Arranged ’02 Trip by
    Lawmakers
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/world/americas/27salmon.html?ex=1364270400&en=c1745ddbf83da1e4&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Virus
    Kills Chile’s Salmon and Indicts Its Fishing Methods

Asia

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258855863/idUSDEL16239720080327">Maoists
    shun gun for mobiles in Nepal poll campaign
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7316024.stm">Banned
    Indian group’s leader held
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7316130.stm">Indian
    men in US ‘slave’ protest
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/27/1?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Response:
    Bhutan is neither authoritarian nor stuck in a time warp
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/27/pakistan.usa?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Pakistan’s
    new leaders tell US: We are no longer your killing field
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/6ac149de-fb4f-11dc-8c3e-000077b07658.html">Philippine
    chains halve rice portions
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7315691.stm">Bush
    calls Hu to urge Tibet talks
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7315895.stm">Monks
    disrupt Tibet media visit
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7315927.stm">Burma
    leader in rare appearance
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/258735857/AR2008032603275.html">Eyewitnesses
    Recount Terrifying Day in Tibet
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7315942.stm">India
    temple stampede kills eight
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/258818121/AR2008032700007.html">U.S.
    Steps Up Unilateral Strikes in Pakistan
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258773072/idUSTP1903520080327">Taiwan
    says did not dismantle U.S. missile parts

Europe

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258711350/idUSL2690393620080327">Sarkozy
    and Brown to urge more market transparency
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/uk_politics/7315649.stm">Sarkozy
    in UK nuclear talks
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258833425/idUSJAK15749420080327">Serbia
    to push for separating ethnic Serbs from Kosovo
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258847734/idUSL2710028520080327">Sarkozy’s
    wife hailed as France’s Princess Diana
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7316033.stm">Karadzic’s
    family homes raided
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3629103.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Bruno
    the wandering bear ends up stuffed in Munich museum
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article3626645.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Remains
    of ‘pioneer woman’ found in Spain are oldest west European
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/world/europe/27briefs-NOEIFFELREDE_BRF.html?ex=1364356800&en=a6dcfe2e99de83ec&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">France:
    No Eiffel Redesign Planned, Says Architect Who Made Proposal
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7311104.stm">French
    ‘serial killer’ on trial
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/world/europe/27europe.html?ex=1364270400&en=207686702eb20d52&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">European
    Leaders Press China Over Tibet
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/mar/27/internationalaidanddevelopment.development?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Plan
    to put 16m African children into school
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258478465/idUSL2668937420080326">Austria
    to return more art Nazis stole from Jews
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One Problem With A “League of Democracies”

Mark is right to call attention to the “new international institutions” that John McCain alluded to in his speech today. In proposing a “League of Democracies” — an idea that, interestingly, resembles a Bush administration proposal from September 2005 — McCain’s speech very neatly mirrors the foreign policy address he gave at the Hoover Institution over a year ago, when he first launched the idea of an organization that “could act where the U.N. fails to act.” What, exactly, does he have in mind? Straight from the horse’s mouth, courtesy of an op-ed he wrote in Financial Times last week:

The nations of the Nato alliance and the European Union…must have the ability and the will to act in defence of freedom and economic prosperity. They must spend the money necessary to build effective military and civilian capabilities that can be deployed around the world, from the Balkans to Afghanistan, from Chad to East Timor.

While McCain’s commitment to working together with other countries is welcome, his seemingly singular focus on a U.S.-Europe alliance could detract significantly from the objective of international cooperation. True, the UN General Assembly often grapples with tensions between the global “North” and the global “South,” between “developed” countries and the “developing” 130 countries in the so-called “G-77.” The existence of these tensions — which often frustrate American objectives — is not, however, a reason to exclude such a substantial number of states from the global decision-making process.

In the 1950′s and 60′s, the UN reached a seminal point in its history, welcoming a flood of newly decolonized countries in Asia and Africa. To create an alliance consisting largely of militarily strong ex-colonial powers would be, to say the least, a disturbing development, both philosophically and practically. If as President McCain is serious about working with the rest of the world to address the pressing problems of the day, then he should commit to working with the — admittedly imperfect, but hugely necessary — institution that already exists — the United Nations.

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McCain calls for Strengthening the NPT through Disarmament

On the heels of his trip to the middle east, John McCain is billed to give a major foreign policy address today. The Washington Post got its hands on some highlights.

“The United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone,” McCain said. Instead, the country must lead by attracting others to its cause, demonstrating the virtues of freedom and democracy, defending the rules of an international civilized society, and creating new international institutions to advance peace and freedom, he said.

“If we lead by shouldering our international responsibilities and pointing the way to a better and safer future for humanity … it will strengthen us to confront the transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism,” said McCain.

Naturally, “creating new international institutions” catches my attention. Later in the article, it seems that McCain is referring to building a coalition of democracies and renewing American commitment to nuclear disarmament through strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. For a thorough explanation of why this first idea may be problematic, I’ll encourage readers to (pre) order Matt Yglesias’ new book Heads in the Sand. Meanwhile, it’s really encouraging to see McCain throw his support behind not just disarmament, but the NPT in general.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, created in 1968, maintains that nuclear weapons proliferation can only be curtailed if nuclear countries make moves toward disarmament and the rest of the world be allowed to access civilian nuclear technology. However, this “three pillar” strategy has taken a beating in recent years, in part because some nuclear powers have largely ignored its disarmament protocols in pursuit of so-called tactical nuclear weapons. Re-affirming American support for nuclear disarmament is not only a good thing on its own, but it helps to strengthen our entire international non-proliferation regime. Supporting the NPT– which means abiding by its precepts and working with allies to raise the costs of non-compliance — is critical to curtailing the global spread of nuclear weapons.

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Celebrities and their UN-affiliated Causes

Angelina Jolie looks after refugees, Drew Barrymore helps feed the world, Nicole Kidman takes on violence against women and Bono promotes the MDG’s. But this week belongs to Jay-Z, who explains why water is for life.

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