The UN announced yesterday that its top diplomat in Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, will be leaving his post to become the deputy executive director of the World Food Program. Congratulations are in order for Mr. de Mistura, who is by all accounts one of the best the UN has out there and who has presided over a critical period in Iraq’s reconstruction.
Appointed to his post in September 2007, de Mistura had been a close friend and colleague to the original head of the UN mission in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in the tragic August 2003 suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad. De Mistura’s tenure began just as the UN returned was returning full force to Iraq, revamping its mandate to include an ambitious agenda of promoting national reconciliation, supporting elections, and providing humanitarian assistance. As the surge got under way — and got most of the credit — in reducing violence in Iraq, it was de Mistura’s small UN political mission that brought the credibility and expertise to actually achieve some of the important political goals in a very contentious climate.
Throughout it all, de Mistura and his colleagues have risked life and limb; Iraq is still one of the most dangerous places in the world to work in, and security for UN personnel there remains appallingly thin. His successor will have to address this issue, as well as many other persistent or looming political difficulties, chiefly the solution to the dispute over the oil-rich regions of Kirkuk. We can only hope the UN’s new representative in Iraq will do as admirable a job as his predecessors, Sergio and Staffan.
Reports from the Hill suggest that the House and Senate conference committee have agreed on language for the final FY09 Emergency Supplemental, replete with language for the full repayment of UN arrears. That’s $721 million to make up for the shortfall from FY04 to FY09 and $168 million for the voluntary peacekeeping account for Somalia. Apparently, the deal was struck after it was agreed that the debate on detainee photos would be left out of this bill and decided by the courts.
Needless to say, this is great news, and Congress should be commended. If you see your representative strolling down the street today, or you’re calling in to request Achy, Breaky Heart, or you’re writing a letter to the editor about how your dog said “hi”, how about working in a shout out for Congress?
The $106 billion total is above both the Senate and House passed versions, which I’ve heard is due to their plans to use some of the money to “forward fund” programs in FY10. But, we shouldn’t count our chickens yet. Both the House and Senate, particularly the House, will face contentious votes on the Supp, most likely tomorrow, over IMF funding and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Is it getting harder for well-meaning NGOs to gain accreditation at the United Nations? The recent rejection of the Washington D.C. based NGO that monitors human rights issues at the United Nations suggests that this may be so.
Gaining NGO accreditation to the United Nations is a long process in which organizations must prove that their work compliments the aims of the United Nations and is in the spirit of the UN Charter. The decision to grant an NGO accreditation is ultimately that of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC, which is composed of 54 member states. ECOSOC in turn, delegates the vetting of NGO applications to the 19 member states that form the NGO Accreditation Committee.
It is in front of the NGOs Committee that well meaning NGOs face their biggest hurdle. “Authoritarian governments on the panel devote energy and mobilize to blocking human rights ngos,” says Dokhi Fassihian, the executive director of the Democracy Coalition Project, a Washington, D.C.-based NGO that saw its application rejected by the NGO committee last week. ” They put pressure on swing states.”
Mark discusses Canada’s role at the UN, Security Council reform, and the Stanley Cup finals with Canada’s Deputy Perm Rep.
Mark talks to the Millennium Campaign’s Anita Sharma about the progress of the G20 committment to “social protection” of the poorest countries.
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.