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Friday Morning Coffee

Will they eat cookie or cake? A British court decides.

Top Stories

>>Uganda – Yesterday, Joseph Kony, the notorious leader of the LRA, balked at signing a final peace deal with the Ugandan government once again, and he fired his top negotiator as well (some sources say he quit). Kony is reportedly skiddish about how Uganda’s courts would dole out the justice that Kony insisted not be carried out by the ICC; these specifics were worked out by his top negotiator.

>>North Korea – North Korea and the United States appear to have worked out a deal under which North Korea would acknowledge U.S. concerns and evidence about its nuclear program, as well as disclose its plutonium enrichment program, in lieu of the full report that the nation has delayed producing. In return the U.S. would drop two key economic sanctions.

>>Olympics – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will not attend the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, due to “scheduling issues.” His spokesman said that he is planning a “substantive visit” instead. Gordon Brown and Angela Merkel will also not attend.

>>Gaza – Israel has cut off the fuel supply to Gaza a day after Palestinian militants attacked Gaza’s sole fuel distribution center (located in Israel) and killed two civilians. Gaza is already under a blockade that denies the area all but humanitarian essentials.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch
  • href="http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2008/04/the_exigencies.php">The
    Exigencies of Peacekeeping
  • href="http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2008/04/un_report_women_1.php">UN
    report: Women face bias worldwide
  • href="http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2008/04/russia_to_incre.php">Russia
    to Increase Payments to the UN?
  • href="http://www.undispatch.com/archives/2008/04/un_official_hig.php">UN
    Official: High Food Prices Here to Stay

The Rest of the Story


Africa

  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Somalia-Pirate-Attack.html?ex=1365652800&en=be146ec7d6ed5091&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Somalia
    - France Says Hostages Held Off Somalia Are Freed
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/268320124/idUSL1190168320080411">Rwanda
    - Grenade kills policeman at Rwanda genocide museum
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/a148ca92-07a0-11dd-a922-0000779fd2ac.html">Zimbabwe
    - Zimbabwe opposition ‘to shun run-off’
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article3727865.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Zimbabwe
    - MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai ‘optimistic’ after meeting with Thebo Mbeki
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/268196927/idUSL0457212820080411">Zimbabwe
    - Zimbabwe raises doubt on Mugabe attending summit
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7342127.stm">Zimbabwe
    - Mugabe rival ‘meets SA leader’
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/middle_east/7342425.stm">Egypt
    - Alcohol fatwa sparks controversy
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2008/apr/11/wildlife.conservation?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Madagascar
    - In pictures: Mapping the wildlife of Madagascar
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/sport1/hi/cricket/other_international/india/latest_scorecard/default.stm">South
    Africa
    – Latest – India v South Africa
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/11/zimbabwe1?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">South
    Africa
    – Mbeki asked to step up Mugabe pressure
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7341833.stm">Ethiopia
    - UN fears new Ethiopia-Eritrea war
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/268129434/AR2008041003361.html">Ghana
    - Dreams of Oil Wealth, Tinted by Fear

Americas

  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/34f9732a-074e-11dd-b41e-0000779fd2ac.html">Colombia
    - House derails Colombia trade agreement
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/267948736/idUSN1038136320080410">Haiti
    - Haitians say their hunger is real
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/world/americas/11fbriefs-WAGELIMITSRE_BRF.html?ex=1365652800&en=4b7fceb33e3f4909&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Cuba
    - Wage Limits Removed
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/8e6991ba-076c-11dd-b41e-0000779fd2ac.html">Chile
    - Chile central bank intervenes in forex market
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/7b23db6e-076d-11dd-b41e-0000779fd2ac.html">Peru
    - Peru raises rates to curb inflation impact
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/267948737/idUSN1032098120080410">Ecuador
    - Ecuador military crisis to test Correa’s mettle
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7341786.stm">Brazil
    - Brazil makes corruption arrests

Asia

  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/world/asia/11fbriefs-COURTAPPROVE_BRF.html?ex=1365652800&en=8a336939e42d9cff&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">India
    - Court Approves University Quotas
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-India-Farmers-Suicide.html?ex=1365652800&en=59f8db03d14c2ffc&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">India
    - Cheap Hair Dye Banned in India After Suicides
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7341923.stm">N.
    Korea
    – Japan renews N Korea sanctions
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/world/asia/11korea.html?ex=1365652800&en=0e902689a02714a7&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">S.
    Korea
    – South Korea’s President Looks to Repair U.S. Ties
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-China-Shanghai-Scandal.html?ex=1365652800&en=5b2073fd65504119&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">China
    - Ex-Party Boss in China Gets 18 Years
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/268134443/idUSBKK15906720080411">Thailand
    - Police hunt for driver of Thai death truck
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/olympics/article3727156.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Japan
    - Japan bans tracksuited Chinese torch guards, as relay moves to Buenos
    Aires
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/world/asia/11kandahar.html?ex=1365652800&en=5d4f728226247413&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Afghanistan
    - Afghan Bombing Kills Up to 8 Civilians, Including 3 Children
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7341930.stm">Afghanistan
    - US is ‘undermining’ Afghan trials
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3724065.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Russia
    - Russian military battles overweight soldiers

Europe

  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/world/europe/11fbriefs-STUDENTSSTEP_BRF.html?ex=1365652800&en=4c4723c1b371ef9c&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">France
    - Students Step Up Protests
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7342539.stm">Germany
    - Germany eases law on stem cells
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7341939.stm">Italy
    - Italy rivals in final poll push
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/267883234/idUSL1086564220080410">Bosnia
    - Bosnia faces vote on EU reforms or isolation
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7341857.stm">Bosnia
    - Police law helps Bosnia’s EU bid
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/world/europe/11fbriefs-CHURCHANDSTA_BRF.html?ex=1365652800&en=d23dd8363be95d7d&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Norway
    - Church and State to Relax Ties
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/apr/11/madeleinemccann.eu?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Portugal
    - McCanns call for a Europe-wide alert system on missing children

Middle East

  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/world/middleeast/11fbriefs-2PALESTINIAN_BRF.html?ex=1365652800&en=e9a44eee2bf7c2f0&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Israel
    - 2 Palestinians Held in Poison Plot
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/washington/11terror.html?ex=1365652800&en=e74fd3153d36bb60&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Iraq
    - Bush Dispatches Envoys to Arab Capitals as Part of Iraq Plan
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/washington/10cnd-prexy.html?ex=1365566400&en=4315bc132c0c02c4&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Iraq
    - Bush Defies Calls for Faster Withdrawal of Iraq Troops
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/10/georgebush.usa?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Iraq
    - President George Bush to reduce tours of duty for US troops
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3724048.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Iran
    - Spy photos reveal ‘secret launch site’ for Iran’s long-range missiles
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/world/middleeast/11iran.html?ex=1365566400&en=2a997fbdbd0687e7&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Iran
    - Cabinet Shakeup in Iran
1 Comment

UN report: Women face bias worldwide

A new UN-commissioned report says that women are discriminated against in nearly every nation in the world:

It says that this is despite the fact that 185 UN member states pledged to outlaw laws favouring men by 2005.

womenworld.jpg

It adds that 70% of the world’s poor are women and they own just 1% of the world’s titled land.

The report, which was prepared for UN Human Right Commissioner Louise Arbour, says rape within marriage has still not been made a crime in 53 nations.

The report was prepared by Fareda Banda, a law professor at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She says that there are many more discriminatory laws against women, including statutes on divorce, maternity benefits and pensions. Even seemingly harmless laws like the legal age for marriage has a huge impact on girls’ and women’s lives:

“Many states still have different ages of marriage for young women than they have for young men, and the age for girls is always lower then the age for boys. . . This leads to violations, for example of a girls’ right education, if she has to leave school at 14 to get married, and this impacts upon her life chances . . . It ends up being a life-long violation of her rights in terms of forfeiting education, having children too early, possibly being damaged herself.”

For more information on how marriage at an early age affects girls, check out this video by the UNFPA. In the meantime, let’s hope this report will serve as a serious call to the UN member states to keep their promise and eliminate these harmful laws; the world’s women can’t afford to wait any longer.

| Leave a comment

UN report: Women face bias worldwide

A new UN-commissioned report says that women are discriminated against in nearly every nation in the world:

It says that this is despite the fact that 185 UN member states pledged to outlaw laws favouring men by 2005.

womenworld.jpg

It adds that 70% of the world’s poor are women and they own just 1% of the world’s titled land.

The report, which was prepared for UN Human Right Commissioner Louise Arbour, says rape within marriage has still not been made a crime in 53 nations.

The report was prepared by Fareda Banda, a law professor at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She says that there are many more discriminatory laws against women, including statutes on divorce, maternity benefits and pensions. Even seemingly harmless laws like the legal age for marriage has a huge impact on girls’ and women’s lives:

“Many states still have different ages of marriage for young women than they have for young men, and the age for girls is always lower then the age for boys. . . This leads to violations, for example of a girls’ right education, if she has to leave school at 14 to get married, and this impacts upon her life chances . . . It ends up being a life-long violation of her rights in terms of forfeiting education, having children too early, possibly being damaged herself.”

For more information on how marriage at an early age affects girls, check out this video by the UNFPA. In the meantime, let’s hope this report will serve as a serious call to the UN member states to keep their promise and eliminate these harmful laws; the world’s women can’t afford to wait any longer.

| 1 Comment

UN Official: High Food Prices Here to Stay

It’s obviously a disturbing sign of the times when a blog like FP Passport feels the need to run a recurring “food riot watch” in response to unrest in Haiti, Kenya, and Egypt. Hopefully, the good folks at Passport are ready to stay on the story for the long haul because according to Lennart Bage, president of the UN’s International Fund, prices are not coming down any time soon. Says Bage

“Most experts do think higher prices are here for a longer term… We will see a supply response, so hopefully the prices will come down somewhat,” he said before adding a word of caution.

“According to experts in the field, prices will remain higher than in the past and what we see is most likely a structural shift to higher prices.”

Read more.

| 1 Comment

UN Official: High Food Prices Here to Stay

It’s obviously a disturbing sign of the times when a blog like FP Passport feels the need to run a recurring “food riot watch” in response to unrest in Haiti, Kenya, and Egypt. Hopefully, the good folks at Passport are ready to stay on the story for the long haul because according to Lennart Bage, president of the UN’s International Fund, prices are not coming down any time soon. Says Bage

“Most experts do think higher prices are here for a longer term… We will see a supply response, so hopefully the prices will come down somewhat,” he said before adding a word of caution.

“According to experts in the field, prices will remain higher than in the past and what we see is most likely a structural shift to higher prices.”

Read more.

| Leave a comment

Russia to Increase Payments to the UN?

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s first trip to Russia was largely pro forma: Ban stressed the importance of Russia’s membership in and contributions to the UN, and Russian leaders — Putin and Medvedev both — praised the role of the UN as “the key element of the whole system of international relations.” Russia’s enthusiastic support, however, may prove to extend beyond words, if what Reuters reports turns out to be true:

Kommersant newspaper reported that during the meeting with Medvedev, Ban Ki-moon would be told of Moscow’s willingness to increase its annual contribution to the U.N. to roughly the same as the United States — a huge 20-fold hike in its fees.

In 2006 the United States contributed $423 million and Russia $21.2 million.

Other G8 member states like Japan, France and the United Kingdom paid in substantially more in 2006 than Russia.

I’m not sure where exactly Russia, with a substantially smaller economy than that of the U.S., is going to get this money, but the investment would be more than welcome. Moreover, Russia’s offer to pay more to the UN stands in sharp contrast to the U.S.’s frequent complaints about the size of its share, as well as to its unwritten policy of falling behind on its dues — over $1.2 billion, at last count.

The U.S. has often been as outspoken as Russia in its support for expanding UN responsibilities. To meet these commitments, as well as to maintain its influence relative to other major powers — an often under-appreciated benefit of paying such a large portion of the UN’s budget — the U.S. would be wise to pony up and put its money where its mouth is.

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