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Sexual Violence Continues in Darfur

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Human Rights Watch today released a report detailing the continued prevalence of rape and sexual violence in Darfur and decrying the impunity in which perpetrators continue to operate.

The 44-page report, “Five Years On, No Justice for Sexual Violence in Darfur,” documents the widespread prevalence of sexual violence throughout Darfur, and details incidents of violent rape perpetrated on girls as young as 11 years old. The government of Sudan has failed to rein in the abuse, much of which is carried out by their own soldiers and allied militia. In spite of the presence of international peacekeepers in Darfur, they have to date been under-resourced and unable to protect women and girls from rape and other forms of violence.

Marking the four-year anniversary of the Security Council’s first action on Darfur, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized the particular plight of women and girls in Darfur, deploring the “violence targeting civilians, including women and girls, that continues at alarming levels with no accountability, or end, in sight.” In his monthly report on the status of UNAMID deployment, Ban called on all parties to “immediately focus” on both civilian protection and the peace process.

While Ban is correct that — as we have emphasized before — peacekeeping must be accompanied by “a peace to keep,” there are certain priorities that require a peacekeeping force as soon as possible. The protection of women and girls in IDP camps is one such priority — and one in which peacekeepers have a demonstrable record of success. The international community therefore needs to speed the deployment of UN military and police personnel — particularly high-ranking and experienced female police officers — who can help staunch this intolerable persistence of rape and sexual violence in Darfur.

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UN Plaza: Ambassador Thomas Pickering

In this week’s UN Plaza, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering discusses his New York Review of Books article in which he and co-authors William Luers and Jim Walsh propose a sensible diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear stand-off. In the segment below, Ambassador Pickering explains why bombing Iran is a terrible, terrible alternative.

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UN Plaza: Ambassador Thomas Pickering

In this week’s UN Plaza, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering discusses his New York Review of Books article in which he and co-authors William Luers and Jim Walsh propose a sensible diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear stand-off. In the segment below, Ambassador Pickering explains why bombing Iran is a terrible, terrible alternative.

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Talking HIV in Jamaica

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting launched a new, amazingly interactive site LiveHopeLove that brings together poetry, essays, documentaries, short video interviews, music, and photography to explore the AIDS crisis in the Caribbean. In the video below, poet and writer Kwame Dawes who returns to the country of his youth to speak with Jamaicans about the impact HIV has had on them and their country.

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Talking HIV in Jamaica

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting launched a new, amazingly interactive site LiveHopeLove that brings together poetry, essays, documentaries, short video interviews, music, and photography to explore the AIDS crisis in the Caribbean. In the video below, poet and writer Kwame Dawes who returns to the country of his youth to speak with Jamaicans about the impact HIV has had on them and their country.

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Kai in Bucharest: Backs Up Ban

Echoing the assurances that his boss, the Secretary-General, gave at the NATO summit in Bucharest yesterday, the new UN Envoy to Afghanistan, Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, affirmed the importance of continuing and expanding the UN’s vital role there.

The United Nations should take a bigger role in Afghanistan and work harder with NATO to boost efforts to stabilize the country, new U.N. envoy Kai Eide said Thursday.

“There is a desire for a stronger U.N. and for more U.N., and we will certainly try to live up to that,” Eide told The Associated Press in one of his first media interviews since taking office three days ago.

“I would certainly like to have more U.N. people on the ground than we have today,” he said on the sidelines of a NATO summit.

UN officials are not the only ones pressing for a larger role for their organization in Afghanistan. From the op-ed page of the The New York Times, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad has extolled the benefits that increased UN involvement brings to Afghanistan. NATO’s military presence obviously remains the crux of stabilization efforts in Afghanistan, but consensus seems to dictate that the UN political mission is bridging a crucial gap.

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