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UN Works in Chad

Next time a detractor calls the UN slow and ineffective, he or she should take a good look at how various UN agencies have sprang to action in Chad. From the UN News Center.

More than 5,500 Chadians who fled fighting in their capital, N’Djamena, earlier this month and have been living in temporary sites in north-eastern Cameroon have now been relocated to a newly equipped camp in the village of Maltam, according to United Nations humanitarian officials.

Another 10,000 refugees are expected to be transferred to the camp from the town of Kousseri, which at one point was hosting some 30,000 Chadians — who left their homeland due to fighting between Government forces and armed opposition groups — in two temporary sites, as well as in local schools, churches and private homes.

Read the entire article. It is a remarkable display of how a bureaucracy can be marshaled to deliver critical services to a vulnerable population in one of the most remote regions on earth. Not only has UNHCR taken on the burden of relocating many thousands of distressed Chadians, but the World Food program is airlifting food so noone suffers malnutrition and and UNICEF is vaccinating the newly displaced with measles and polio vaccinations. This, I would say, is a good example of UN efficacy.

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Quick Plugs: Kosovo Blogging

Biodun Iginla at Fire Dog Lake offers a very reader friendly time-line of the historical events leading up to last week’s torching of the US embassy in Belgrade. He also lists the countries that have not, so far, recognized Kosovo’s independence (and finds a pattern).

It’s great to see such an informed and detailed post about a the historical foundations of a leading foreign policy dilemma find itself on a popular mainstream blog like Fire Dog Lake. Meanwhile, for more frequent updates I recommend readers check out Laura Rozen, who cut her teeth as a reporter in the Balkans in the 1990s and covers the issue extensively on her blog, War and Piece.

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Wednesday Morning Coffee

Obama (who received Dodd’s endorsement yesterday) and Clinton had a contentious debate last night in Ohio, sparring mainly on healthcare and trade. There is no longer any debate, however, about the source of “Parmesan.”

Top Stories

>Tuberculosis – The World Health Organization reports that five percent of all TB cases (nearly 20 percent in some areas of the former Soviet Union and 22 percent in Baku) are resistant to two or more drugs (MDR-TB). Moreover, Tuberculosis that is resistant to nearly all the most-effective drugs (XDR-TB) is now present in 45 countries. MDR-TB is exponentially more expensive to treat than regular TB, as is XDR-TB than MDR-TB. TB is the world’s most lethal infectious disease after AIDS, killing 1.6 million people a year.

>>Kenya – Kofi Annan suspended negotiations in Kenya on Tuesday. Annan did so to “speed up the action,” as he will now bring proposals straight to President Kibaki and opposition leader Odinga instead of their representatives in negotiations. Odinga has called off nationwide opposition protests planned for Thursday.

>>Northern Iraq – Turkey has said that it will provide no timetable for withdrawing its troops from northern Iraq, despite demands from Iraq that it withdraw and from U.S. Secretary of Defense Gates that they keep it short. According to Turkey, 77 militants were killed overnight (bringing the total to 230), as were 24 Turkish soldiers.

>>Cambodia – Kaing Geuk “Duch” Eav, the Khmer Rouge’s former chief interregator who is being charged for crimes against humanity, was taken to a mass grave at Choeung Ek (the “killing fields”) and the infamous S-21 prison this week as part of an effort to gather evidence for a UN-backed war crimes trial in Cambodia that is trying four other senior Khmer Rouge officials. Duch reportedly wept at both locations.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch
  • UN’s
    Commission on the Status of Women kicks off
    Jessica Valenti
  • href="">Increase
    Aid to Africa – by John Boonstra
  • href="">El
    Baradei faces Another Tired Charge of Anti-Americanism. Enough Already.
    - by Mark Leon Goldberg
  • href="">LRA
    No More? Ceasefire in Northern Uganda – by Mark
    Leon Goldberg

The Rest of the Story




Middle East


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UN’s Commission on the Status of Women kicks off

The United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) kicked off its 52nd session yesterday; this year’s theme is financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women and the emerging issue is gender perspectives on climate change.

In the session’s opening address, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke out against violence against women, noting that “at least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.” Ban also announced the launch of a new campaign to battle global violence against women, which will run until 2015.

I’ve been lucky enough to go to past CSWs when I was working in the international women’s rights arena, but (sadly) I won’t be there this year. What’s great, however, is that you can follow along on the CSW website and see what’s happening – whether it be panels, statements or NGO events.

Another great place to find out info on CSW and its happenings is the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) (my old stomping ground), who are heavily involved in the process and give great updates.

Too often, American feminists forget about the all-important work being done on the international level by groups like WEDO and others. So please, check out all of the info on CSW and get involved!

If you want to know more about CSW and its history, click here.

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Increase Aid to Africa

Conventional wisdom — here, and elsewhere — has been that, while President Bush has fallen woefully short in supporting UN peacekeeping in Africa, he has at least done a fairly good job providing humanitarian aid to the continent, particularly in combating HIV/AIDS and malaria. Not so fast, argues Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Homi Kharas; the raw numbers of the Bush administration’s aid to Africa look impressive, but a closer look reveals that even these sums pale, in proportional terms, to the amount given by European countries. Moreover, even the aid provided by the U.S. is often subject to bureaucratic delays and does not necessarily go into the areas identified by Africans as the most important.

Kharas urges that the U.S. enact an explicit policy to increase the amount of aid it provides for Africa:

The United States can do much more to increase the level and effectiveness of its aid to Africa. It can allocate a greater share of aid to Africa which is the poorest continent and which faces the greatest development challenges. A target of at least 40% – about what the Europeans give – would be reasonable. It can shift resources from food-aid, which has above-market pricing and caters as much to domestic farm interests as to development, towards priority funding for infrastructure, agriculture and economic improvements. In programs like the Millennium Challenge compacts, which do respect local priorities, it should focus heavily on implementation and develop more realistic timeframes so that countries can actually use the promised money. That would be a legacy of assistance that the whole world would welcome.

As I’ve argued here previously, increasing humanitarian and development aid to Africa is helpful in more than just a feel-good way; by improving the U.S.’s image in the world, it can also actually contribute to a stronger national security policy. An even higher priority, though, is to make sure that the aid being sent is effective; this means, for example, relenting on abstinence-only programs and increasing contributions to concrete development programs — not to mention anteing up the money for the peacekeepers crucial to the safety of millions of Africans.

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El Baradei faces Another Tired Charge of Anti-Americanism. Enough Already.

Hugh Hewitt flags the latest hit job on IAEA Chief Mohammed el Baradei from AEI’s Michael Rubin and Danielle Pletka, who have had elBaradei in their cross hairs ever since the Iraq war. (You see, while the hawkish duo was drumming up support for a U.S. non-proliferation strategy predicated on invading and occupying Iraq, elBaradei warned anyone who would listen that his agency has no evidence of nuclear weapons in Iraq.) Now, for having the audacity to once again to render a judgment on the state of Iran’s nuclear weapons program based on evidence available to him (incidentally, a judgment backed up by the American intelligence community) elBaradei gets subjected to fusillades like this:

Mr. ElBaradei’s report [on Iran] culminates a career of freelancing and fecklessness which has crippled the reputation of the organization he directs. He has used his Nobel Prize to cultivate an image of a technocratic lawyer interested in peace and justice and above politics. In reality, is a deeply political figure, animated by antipathy for the West and for Israel on what has increasingly become a single-minded crusade to rescue favored regimes from charges of proliferation.

Glen Greenwald has done a masterful job documenting how time and time and time and time and time and time again, Elbaradei has been vindicated against charges that he is some sort of stooge to rogue proliferators. Meanwhile, it is hard to see how Elbaradei can be accused of anti-Americanism when all along his agency has been supplying to the United States correct information about the nuclear weapons programs of America’s potential rivals. It seems to me that this is exactly the sort of thing that the United States would want from the world’s nuclear watchdog.

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