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Ban Ki-moon speaks out on Darfur

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on all parties to the conflict in Darfur to create a climate conducive to peace negotiations.

In a statement released in the Libyan capital, where Mr. Ban is wrapping up a three-nation trip that also took him to Sudan and Chad, the Secretary-General set out a series of measures required to address the conflict that has engulfed Darfur since 2003, killing over 200,000 people and driving an additional 2.2 million from their homes.

Ban urged all parties “to declare their serious commitment to achieve a political solution to the Darfur crisis; to create a security environment in Darfur conducive to negotiations; to participate in and commit to the outcome of the negotiation effort; and to cease all hostilities immediately.”

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Bolton at Heritage

American Enterprise Institute senior fellow John Bolton gave the “Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture” at the Heritage Institute yesterday. He’s about to publish a book, Surrender is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad and his speech focused mostly on the question of whether or not the UN advances the cause of freedom. His answer? “minimally, occasionally, and accidentally.” You can watch the webcast here.

Bolton’s argument is familiar to anyone who has read or listened to his speeches since he left public service (and occasionally, while still in government.) Essentially, Bolton argues that the UN Secretariat lacks a basic legitimacy because the Secretariat does not take marching orders from the member states that pay the bulk of UN operating expenses.

On the contrary, the legitimacy engendered to the UN comes precisely from the fact that it does not work exclusively for any one member state or group of states. Rather, the UN derives its legitimacy because 180 member states belong to it–and at least in the General Assembly one country has one vote. Things are a bit different in the Security Council. But even there, a Security Council resolution means that the world’s powers have coalesced around a single unifying principle. When the UN Security Council votes to authorize the use of force (say for example for the 1991 Gulf War) that sort of operation is viewed with overwhelming credibility and therefore is much easier to mount.

Bolton made other points, many of which we have addressed previously on UN Dispatch, such as the dangerous notion that the UN should be funded through voluntary contributions rather than assessed dues. Finally, perhaps the most newsworthy moment of the lecture was when Bolton, in the midst of trashing his former colleagues at the State Department, quipped that “North Korea is more likely to get full diplomatic credentials than Taiwan.”

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Ban: Darfur peace talks begin next month

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced that fresh peace talks to resolve the conflict in Darfur will start next month in Libya.

“There must be an end to violence and insecurity, a strengthened ceasefire supported by the incoming Hybrid Operation [an AU-UN peacekeeping force to be known as UNAMID], as well as an improvement in the humanitarian situation and greater prospects for development and recovery for the people of Darfur,” Ban said.

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About that Phosogene

When news outlets reported that a chemical weapons agent named phosogene was found in a storage facility maintained by UNMOVIC–the UN weapons inspection team for Iraq–the regular herd of UN bashers used this seemingly embarrassing story to advance their own anti-UN agenda.

Take Claudia Rosett:

[t]here is, of course, much more to the UNMOVIC story itself. Along with such questions as who carried phosgene into the U.S., and then into the UNMOVIC office in midtown Manhattan, and how, I keep wondering what on earth these weapons inspectors for Iraq have been doing for most of the past decade?

[snip]

Whatever else this phosgene flap is about, it’s one more glaring example of why it’s insane to give any more money to the UN before demanding a full, independent stock-taking that would tell us, for the first time ever, what they’re really doing with what they’ve already got.

Of course, today we learn the answer to Rosett’s first question about who brought the phosogene to New York: no one. The “chemical agent” was really just an over the counter commercial cleaner.

The answer to Rosett’s second question about what UNMOVIC has been up to since the invasion of Iraq is easily researchable. UNMOVIC, you see, has to brief the Security Council quarterly. And in its last report [pdf] to the Security Council before UNMOVIC’s mandate was terminated in June, we learned that UNMOVIC had 34 staffers, including some of the world’s foremost experts on WMD detection. Among other things, these experts have been busy briefing the US government on bio-weapons detection systems, conducting multiple weapons inspection training courses throughout the world, and monitoring the use of chemical agents in terrorist attacks in Iraq. So, contra Rosett it would seem that in the past five years since the invasion of Iraq, UNMOVIC had, in fact, found things to do.

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Ban speaks to displaces persons in Darfur

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with just a few of the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur, bringing a message of “hope, peace, security…and water.”

Mr. Ban spoke with Rodolphe Adada, the Joint UN-AU Special Representative to Darfur and the head of the current AU mission to the region (known as AMIS), after arriving earlier today in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters. Mr. Adada will then head the hybrid force (UNAMID) once it takes over from AMIS at the end of this year.

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Envoy on children and armed conflict visits Côte d’Ivoire

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, has began a visit to Côte d’Ivoire; she will focus on the follow-up of action plans aimed at releasing children from armed groups and reintegrating them into their communities.

Ms. Coomaraswamy will also examine the issue of sexual violence against children in the aftermath of the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, which has been split between the Government-controlled south and the Forces Nouvelles-held north since 2002.

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