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‘Vague Paranoia’

Corine Hegland has written a great summary article (pdf) on UNCLOS for the National Journal. I got this from Matt, who writes "She's doing neutral reporting, so she doesn't come out and say that there's little to the opponents' case besides vague paranoia but she also make it clear that there's little to the opponents' case besides vague paranoia."Slate also published an "Explainer" on the race to claim the Artic today.Key quotes from Hegland's piece after the jump.
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The Problems with Darfur

It seems that we are seeing the Darfur rebel-buy in problem become fully manifest ahead of this weekend's peace talks. Various news agencies are reporting that few of the key players plan to attend the peace talks on Saturday in Sirte, Libya. Significant no-shows, of course, would mean that the peace talks would fail before they began.To make matters worse, the peacekeeping force being prepared for Darfur is already beset by problems. Not only is UNAMID having trouble finding donor countries willing to provide 24 helicopters, but the government of Sudan is placing onerous bureaucratic obstacles to its deployment. Khartoum, for example, refuses to let the UN deploy any troops not from Africa--never mind that African militaries lack certain capacities neccessary to get the mission off the ground.The UN special envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, (known as one of the more skilled diplomats in the UN system) is understandably frustrated. The UN will inevitably be blamed for failing in Darfur. But by itself, the UN has no real power to press intransigent rebel groups to attend the meeting. Eliasson, for example, can't threaten to sanction Khalil Ibrahim for refusing to join the talks. Neither can Jan Elliason knock on President Bashir's door and threaten further sanctions should his government, say, refuse to lease land or provide ports of entry to the peacekeeping force. The real power rests with member states. And so far, key member states are clearly not applying the kind of pressure necessary to force all parties to the table this weekend.UPDATE: Julia Spiegel from the Enough Campaign writes in:"I don't think the peace talks are doomed to fail if all of the rebel leaders are not at the table at the outset. It's not ideal, of course, but the international community can work intensively to bring other rebel parties and potential spoilers into the fold as the talks proceed.""These discussions are going to take a very long time and there's potential there to bring others on board, once the process has been proven to be legitimate. But it will take serious energy and engagement."
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UN official raises concerns about the humanitarian conditions facing Palestinians

B. Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, raised concerns recently about the humanitarian conditions facing Palestinians."Economic activity and humanitarian operations will be seriously affected by the decision of Israel to further restrict access for West Bank residents - including UN staff - to East Jerusalem and the ‘seam zone’ between the Barrier and the green line," he said.More
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The Grinch

Obviously not getting into the spirit of United Nations Day, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad derided as "piles of paper" UN Security Council resolutions demanding Iranian halt its nuclear program.
"The so-called dossier at the Security Council is a pile of papers that have no value. They can add to those worthless papers everyday because it has no effect on the will of the Iranian nation," state television quoted Ahmadinejad as saying Wednesday.
Ahmidenijad has always positioned himself as the fly in the American ointment. But here, he's not just insulting the United States, but Europe, Russia, and China as well. China, in particular, has increasingly sought to use the Security Council as a locus of its foreign policy priorities so it would seem to me that they have an interest in defending the authority of the Security Council against attacks like this. To the extent that Ahmidenijad has sought to stoke divisions within the Security Council, I have to wonder if his bluster today is ultimately counterproductive.
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“Does the UN Effectively Fulfill its Mission?”

Today, in honor of UN Day, DipNote, the "U.S. Department of State Official Blog," is soliciting responses to the question above. We believe that, although there are certainly steps to be taken to ensure that the UN can more efficiently fulfill its mission (both in terms of reform and the full payment of dues by key Member States), the answer is clear (and thoroughly and eloquently spelled out here).Submit your answer on DipNote and write to us here at UN Dispatch.A selection from those who have weighed in at DipNote after the jump.
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Opening up the international biofuels market

by Dr. Corrado Clini, Director General of the Italian Ministry for the Environment Land and Sea and Chairman of the Global Bioenergy Partnership Trade in biofuels and biofuels feedstocks is currently too low. European and US systems of subsidies and incentives for domestic production and of tariffs for imported feedstocks and final products are, de facto, reducing the potential biofuels production in tropical and subtropical countries, where biomass productivity is significantly higher than in temperate regions such as Europe and North America (according to some estimates up to five times higher).

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Happy Birthday to the United Nations!

Today marks United Nations Day, the anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter on today's date in 1945.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, "More people and governments understand that multilateralism is the only path in our interdependent and globalizing world,...Global problems demand global solutions – and going it alone is not a viable option."So Happy Birthday, UN. Party on.
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“Captain” misses the boat on MONUC

Confusing the Hutus and Tutsis is the least of the mistakes Ed Morrisey made in a post on the Democratic Republic of the Congo this morning. Ostensibly he uses the new Human Rights Watch report on North Kivu as shaky foundation for an attack not only on the MONUC force, which he spuriously claims "has done little but act as observers as the situation has deteriorated," but on UN peacekeeping in general, which he accuses of "successive failures."The "Captain" clearly values his talking points over any semblance of nuanced reporting or opinion. Even the most cursory research (we can suggest UN Dispatch's new full-text RSS feed) would have revealed that UN workers in this incredibly complex conflict zone have been far more than "observers." In fact, 81 UN peacekeepers have been killed as part of the mission in the DRC. Morrisey is not only being disrespectful to those who gave their lives to the mission but is insulting those who continue to put themselves in harm's way as they try to pull the war-torn country together. Mark summarizes the situation (emphasis mine):