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Assembly President: Female UN officers are role models

General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa says that female United Nations police and military serve as role models in the war-torn countries where they are deployed.
"Peacekeepers not only carry out their mandated tasks; they create a lasting legacy by exemplifying how military and police can engage in humanitarian work while interacting respectfully with civil society," General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa said in a message for the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, observed tomorrow.
"A shining example of this is the first ever all-female contingent of United Nations Police sent from India to Liberia...These Blue Berets are not only helping to restore the rule of law, they are also serving as role models for Liberian women," she added.More
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The Economist on the ICC:

Earlier this week, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that his office will open an investigation into suspected war crimes in the Central African Republic, where a civil war peaked in 2002 and 2003. The war was marked by terrible sexual violence, and according to the Prosecutor this is the first ICC investigation in which the number of rape victims exceeds the number of murders.With the new investigation in CAR, says The Economist, the International Criminal Court is hitting its stride:"This is the fourth formal investigation launched by the court since it was set up in The Hague five years ago. Many, including some of its original backers, have complained about the slowness of its procedures. But it has passed some notable milestones. It has issued international arrest warrants against its first two suspects in Sudan and five rebel leaders in Uganda. Its first trial--of Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese rebel leader--is due later this year. Many a highly placed thug, it is hoped, is beginning to sleep less easily at night."
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UN rights experts meet with Sudanese officials on Darfur

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."
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New IAEA Report on Iran

The International Atomic Energy Agency released a new report detailing Iranian non-compliance with Security Council demands that it suspend its uranium enrichment program. American officials are not pleased. From the Washington Post:
Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns called the IAEA report "disturbing, because it shows that Iran is effectively thumbing its nose at the U.N. and the entire international community. If Iran does not agree to sit down and negotiate, which we would prefer they do, then I'm quite sure there will be united and strong international pressure for a third resolution.""The purpose would be to demonstrate to Iran that it is isolated and will pay an increasingly heavy cost for this outrageous behavior," Burns said.
In today's press conference, President Bush responded to the report by expressing his desire to pursue a tougher set of sanctions against Iran in the Security Council. Given the low expectations for a planned meeting next week between Iranian negotiator Ali Larjani and Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, we may soon see new action at the Security Council to step up the pressure on Iran.
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Keeping the Peace: East Timor

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.
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UNEP campaign to plant billion trees hits target seven months early

UNEP's Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign met its goal--to plant a billion trees worldwide this year--seven months early after Senegal unveiled a pledge to plant 20 million trees.
The campaign, announced at the recent climate change convention conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, now switches to turning those pledges into one billion actual plantings by the end of 2007.Senegal made its announcement on the International Day on Biological Diversity, which this year has a special focus on the relationship between biodiversity and climate change.
The campaign was inspired by 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya.More
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Guest Post: Stephen Schlesinger

schlesinger.jpgSuccessive American administrations have had sometimes rocky, sometimes rosy relations with the UN, but one feature which all US governments have universally admired at the UN has been its peacekeeping missions. These undertakings have over the decades prevented the outbreak of conflict, disarmed combatants, overseen elections and trained police forces - all without involving US troops and saving Washington millions of dollars.Today they number eighteen and involve over 100,000 UN soldiers. But now they may be in trouble. The US owes almost $500 million in back-dues to support these operations because several years ago Congress insisted that our nation should pay only 25% of the overall costs of these endeavors though we could afford more. Without these US outlays, these vital enterprises may now be crippled or forced to end.