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World Must Engage on Kosovo Now

Among the many difficult issues the UN is managing, the situation in Kosovo has been one of the most intractable. The Security Council has slated the much anticipated March session on Kosovo for the 19th, at which time it is expected that Secretary-General Ban’s Special Envoy for Kosovo's Future Status, Martti Ahtisaari, will deliver the final draft of his proposal on the status of Kosovo. On March 2, Mr. Ahtisaari issued a statement saying that the two parties, Serbia and the ethnic Albanian government of Kosovo, remain “diametrically opposed” on the UN’s February proposal for the province, which would grant Kosovo the right to govern itself and conclude international agreements, including membership in international bodies, but would stop short of full independence. Mr. Ahtisaari continues to meet with the parties and has invited them, along with the so-called "Contact Group" of the US, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Russia, to a high-level meeting on March 10.
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Ban Ki-moon speaks out on International Women’s Day

Yesterday, on International Women's Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the UN must spearhead efforts to eradicate violence against women. "Violence against women and girls makes its hideous imprint on every continent, country and culture...It is a threat to all women, and should be unacceptable to all humankind." More
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Powerful Women Name Those Who Inspire Them

In celebration of International Women's Day, The People Speak asked 16 prominent women, including Her Majesty Queen Rania, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman, about the women who have inspired them. The site also includes an interactive feature where you can write about an inspiring woman from your own life. banner_IWD.gif
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The Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice

Apropos of today's International Women's Day theme, "Ending Impunity for Violence against Women and Girls," let me highlight the work of the Women's Initiative for Gender Justice, a Hague-based group that advocates using established international organizations, specifically the International Criminal Court, to protect the interests of female war crimes victims. Learn more about the group's important work here.
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International Women’s Day

iwd.gif Today is International Women's Day! Observed since the early 1900s, March 8th is now an official holiday in many countries and the inspiration for thousands of events worldwide held to celebrate women and their accomplishments. Today in Cambodia, for example, women are holding a photography exhibit to showcase women's contributions in rebuilding the country and in India women are using the day to hold a seminar on the law and domestic violence. Unfortunately, not all governments are too happy about International Women's Day. As previously reported, over 30 women in Iran were arrested this week, which according to Amnesty International, was a deliberate move to deter women from organizing IWD events. The United Nations, its agencies and regional offices are commemorating the day through various events, including a discussion today on eliminating violence against women in Afghanistan. More
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UN Human Rights Commissioner voices concern over arrest of Iranian women

After over 30 women's rights activists were arrested in Tehran, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour expressed concern about their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. Arbour further urged authorities in Iran to adhere to the international agreements they are party to, specially the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Iran is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Economic, Civil and Cultural Rights, and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Iran must adhere to the legal obligations undertaken under those treaties to respect all human rights without discrimination, Ms. Arbour was quoted as saying by a spokesperson at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Iran has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Amnesty International released a statement yesterday about the arrests, noting that they believed the arrests were intended to deter women from organizing events to mark International Women's Day on March 8. More Picture from Krpasevananda at Flickr.
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Report Lauds UN Peacekeeping Efforts in 2006

The second Annual Review of Global Peace Operations (executive summary pdf) was released last week at the United Nations and highlighted a year of unprecedented growth in UN peacekeeping operations. A project of the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, the report says that despite the immense challenges of starting several new large-scale missions "2006 was not a catastrophic year for peacekeeping. In some ways, it was a surprisingly successful one." It goes on to elaborate on the details of deployments by the UN and other organizations, looking at specific regional and country contributions. Congress should keep this information in mind as it starts its deliberations on the utility of UN peacekeeping and makes budgetary decisions about the U.S. contributions. Right now, the President's budget is about $500 million short of what will be needed for the U.S. to pay its peacekeeping dues even though the U.S. has voted for all of the new missions in the Security Council. Considering the benefit of peacekeeping to U.S. interests, the U.S. should pay these bills in full.