In Addis Ababa yesterday, African Union and United Nations negotiators announced that the Sudanese government accepted a plan to send up to 25,000 troops to Darfur on an AU-UN “hybrid” peacekeeping mission. So should we cheer this news? I’d hold off the hosannas for now.
In a report released on Monday, Ban Ki-moon raised the possibility that the UN may expand its operations in Iraq. Clearly on the Secretary General’s mind was the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, which killed a top UN diplomat, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 16 others. From the Guardian:
The United Nations is a major promoter of electoral, constitutional and political efforts to build a united, democratic Iraq but because of the “precarious” security situation it needs the speedy construction of a new residential compound in Baghdad that can withstand the impact of rockets and other high-caliber weapons, he said.
“The security situation in Iraq remains complex and unpredictable and is a major limiting factor for the United Nations presence and activities in Iraq,” Ban said in the report covering the period from early March to early June.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who was previously the top U.S. envoy in Iraq, has stressed several times that the United States believes the United Nations can and should step up its activities in Iraq, even in the current security climate.
On June 10, 1999, after 78 days of a US-led NATO bombing campaign, the Serbian army withdrew from Kosovo, a small province with an ethnic-Albanian majority. But with the Serbian Army’s eviction, the ethnic-Serb dominated government in Kosovo collapsed. To take its place, and oversee Kosovo’s physical and political reconstruction, the Security Council created the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, that very day.
From the outset, a large NATO force in Kosovo obviated the need for a significant deployment of UN peacekeepers. The United Nations, however, provided the bulk of international civilian administrators and supplied a “blue hat” police force, which has played a crucial role in Kosovo’s reconstruction.
United Nations human rights experts have reported some progress in their talks with the Sudanese Government on the conflict in Darfur.
The UN Experts Group on Darfur “welcomed the positive approach taken by the Government of Sudan and specific proposals made by the Government,” members said in a statement released in Geneva. “While there was common understanding on several important steps to improve the human rights situation in Darfur that could be implemented in the future, further dialogue would be pursued on other issues.”
When the United Nations is responsible for birthing a new country, as it was in East Timor over the past eight years, one can be forgiven for being a touch confused by the alphabet soup of UN missions involved.
Please bear with me: Following an East Timor referendum on independence from Indonesia in 1999, UNAMET was replaced by UNTAET, which in turn became subsumed into UNMISET and later transitioned into UNOTIL, that is, until 2006 when UNMIT — the United Nations Mission in East Timor — took over. For those less versed in UN-ease, let me explain.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has started talks with rebel groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) to negotiate the release of hundreds of child soldiers; 220 have been freed so far.
Discussions have started with the full support of the Government of CAR, which has engaged in talks with the UNICEF since the first UN assessment mission in the Vakaga region identified armed children among the ranks of non-State armed groups in January, the agency said in a news release.
“This UNICEF programme not only contributes significantly to children’s welfare, but also helps resolve one of CAR’s most pressing problems,” said the agency’s CAR Humanitarian Coordinator, Toby Lanzer.
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.