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Blog Roundup #90

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentaryPeek: "Number one of the eight Millennium Development Goals that all 191 United Nations member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015 is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. In addition to the security concern noted above, there's an ethical imperative. Is there a belief system on Earth that doesn't essentially tell you that you're connected to every other human and that your soul suffers as theirs does?"
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Blog Roundup #89

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentaryInformed Comment: "Bringing the United Nations Back In - There will be anti-War protests in the coming month, as the 3-year anniversary of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq approaches. I think it is time to demand a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq. I suspect a majority of Iraqi parliamentarians want that. The Sunni Arabs demand it. The Sadrists demand it. It is time. Saying that the guerrillas would take advantage of a timetable, given the carnage we saw on Monday is frankly silly. They are taking advantage of the current situation. We have to create a new situation, with which they might be happier so that they stop blowing things up. Staying this course is untenable. But that step will not necessarily resolve the crisis. I think the peace movement has a real opportunity here to make a push for much heavier United Nations involvement in Iraq. I say, let's make up placards calling on Kofi Annan to get involved, and calling on Bush to let the UN come in in a big way, with proper protection."Democracy Arsenal: "I spent this weekend at a conference organized by the Stanley Foundation on UN Reform. Stanley is deeply valued at the UN for convening in-depth, substantive sessions that are small enough to allow participants to engage and actually reach decisions. David Shorr, an occasional guest-blogger here, has masterminded these UN events in recent years. This weekend he and Stanley Foundation President Dick Stanley focused on the nuts and bolts of how to streamline the thousands of UN mandates that have accumulated over the years. They convened a group including a dozen UN ambassadors from major countries (none with mustaches), a handful of their deputies, a few top Secretariat and US government officials, one academic and one blogger. For me it was a chance to delve back into reform issues 5 years after completing negotiations at the US Mission to the UN to reform the organization's financial system in 2001. Here are 10 reasons why the weekend left me somewhat heartened on prospects for UN reform..."
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Blog Roundup #88

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentaryAgonist: "CSM - Amid new escalation in fighting in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan, with rebels shooting down a government helicopter Tuesday, there's fresh pressure on the international community to step in to help stop the three-year-old conflict. It comes as consensus is hardening in Western capitals and at the United Nations that the 7,000 African troops now in Darfur, as part of a force supplied by the African Union, are inadequate. Because of limited training, equipment, and marching orders, the AU troops have been unable to contain the fighting, provide safety for civilians, or adequately protect humanitarian aid groups operating in the desert region, which is the size of Texas."Ethiopundit: "Deepening poverty shatters families in Ethiopia: "Ethiopia has the world's largest population of orphaned children, with 4.6 million having lost parents to AIDS and other diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, according to a 2004 study by the United Nations and Ethiopia's labor and social affairs ministry." God and fate have not betrayed Ethiopians but her rulers have. As Rural Ethiopians Struggle, Child Labor Can Mean Survival: [WaPo] "Ethiopia has one of the highest rates of child labor in the world, according to the United Nations' International Labor Organization and the African Network for the Prevention of and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect."
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Blog Roundup #87

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentaryFlap's Blog: [AP] "Russia and France immediately called on Iran to halt its work and fulfill the demands of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, according to a joint statement posted on the Kremlin's Web site." More bloviating from Russia and France. They MAY vote for economic sanctions against Iran when these issues come before the United Nations Security Council but cannot be counted upon for more... The ball continues in the Mullah's court. Iran must STAND DOWN or suffer the consequences. Iran WILL NOT develop or possess nuclear weapons."Eccentric Star: "Cartoon Protests Continue; Protest Violence Also Condemned - "U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the drawings as "insensitive and rather offensive," but he called for dialogue. "Right now there's megaphone diplomacy," Annan told Denmark's national broadcaster DR. "And I think we should turn off the megaphones and begin to talk quietly to each other."
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Blog Roundup #86

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentaryRegime Change Iran: "The United Nations wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and five of his relatives and aides, including his younger brother, for questioning in the murder of Lebanon's former premier, Rafiq al-Hariri. (Assad has tried to negotiate immunity for himself and his brother in exchange for handing over the others - but the U.N. wouldn't play.)"TPM Cafe (Michael Levi): "Inspecting Iran - Are inspections a technical or a political process? That question comes to mind as Iran prepares to resume its uranium enrichment activities, after the IAEA Board of Governors reported its case to the UN Security Council this past weekend. Until now, Iran's enrichment activities had been suspended under an agreement with Britain, France, and Germany; the suspension had also been requested by the IAEA itself. Now, as Iran restarts its work, the IAEA will resume routine but spare inspections, monitoring Iranian installations for unauthorized production or diversion of nuclear material."
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Blog Roundup #85

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentaryMoondancer: "U.N. delegates drafting a treaty to protect the rights of the world's 600 million disabled have resolved many of their differences and are on track to complete the document in August, the diplomat leading the negotiations said on Friday. "It should be possible to conclude drafting at our next meeting in August," New Zealand Ambassador Don MacKay told a news conference after a three-week drafting session. "We have made real progress and there are relatively few unresolved issues," he said. "But it is more than just dotting the i's and crossing the t's." A U.N. committee that includes all 191 U.N. member-nations has been working since 2001 on a treaty to promote and protect the rights of the disabled."Stygius: "Steve Clemons' long-anticipated project, an online watch page on UN Ambassador John Bolton, is now active. Bolton Watch is being hosted by TPMCafe, and Steve's first post is up: "As a friend of mine inside the State Department recently told me, I have a slew of friends inside the Department and in the nooks and crannies of Bolton's world who want Bolton Watch to play a constructive role in helping Condoleezza Rice to supervise him."Coalition for Darfur: "Darfur: Sudan Reiterates Resistance to U.N. Force - From Reuters: "Sudan on Monday softened its resistance to admitting U.N. troops to its violent Darfur region, but demanded the world body consult the government before any deployment is agreed. Sudan initially refused the deployment of U.N. troops in Darfur to stop the rape, killing and looting described by Washington as genocide, and an African Union force was dispatched instead in 2004. But donors have slowed their funding for the almost 7,000-strong AU force, prompting U.N. chief Kofi Annan to say a U.N. takeover of the AU mission is inevitable."
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Blog Roundup #84

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentaryHuffington Post (Michelle Pilecki): "US Media Ignore UN Study on Iraq 'Peace-Building' Methods Backfiring - The United States is avoiding widely recognised peace-building processes that involve external military powers quickly creating a basic security environment and then allowing domestic peace- and nation-building efforts to succeed," says the Inter Press Service News Agency, reporting on a new book, Security Sector Reform and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, published by the United Nations University Press: "Instead of stabilizing places like Iraq, international efforts to centralize power are creating a more fragile security environment than ever before," the press release quotes co-editor Albrecht Schnabel, senior research fellow at swisspeace Swiss Peace Foundation, and a lecturer at the Institute of Political Science, University of Bern. "[A]lmost three years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iraq is characterized by chaos, violence and disintegration. The methods used to rebuild Iraq's security sector are simply making matters worse."Free Thinking: "The late Sergio Vieira de Mello said that intolerance is dangerous because it usually hides behind dishonesty and a false pretext. According to him, the best way of securing the rule of law is through human rights."Dan McDermott: "AP - Polio has been stamped out in Egypt and Niger, leaving just four nations in the world where the deadly disease is endemic, the U.N. health agency said Wednesday."Global Voices: "South Asia, Bangladesh - Unheard Voices on a Unicef study that indicates there aren't enough toilets for children in schools."Murky View: "The BBC has an excellent service called BBC Monitoring that gathers information in over 100 languages around the world and translates them into English. Unfortunately, it's not free, but they do include information from those sources in many articles. Yesterday I ran across this article on Iranian bloggers who are discussing the nuclear issue between Iran and the West. As the tension mounts and the issue is sent to the UN Security Council. It is interesting, and I believe incredibly important, to hear what Iranians have to say on the issue. They are, after all, the ones who would be suffering most if a military strike were to proceed against Iran."
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Blog Roundup #83

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentaryPublic Diplomacy Watch: "Travel Weekly has a good story about Tim Wirth and Ted Turner's UN Foundation, and its efforts to enlist the travel industry in protecting places designated as "World Heritage" sites by the UN."Sudan Watch: "A new detailed UN report warns that killings, rapes and indiscriminate attacks are still forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes in Darfur. Excerpt from Scotsman January 28, 2006: "A 42-page report said those carrying out the violence included soldiers who fired at civilians from helicopter gunships. The report criticised the government of coup leader Omar el-Bashir, saying promises to end centuries of discrimination and marginalisation of black African minorities were marked by "token gestures" while murder and torture went unpunished." UN News Centre January 27, 2006 reports that while noting some progress since peace accords were signed last year, such as the lifting emergency law in certain areas, the OHCHR report says other initiatives have been inadequate, especially in Darfur, where any positive political measures were "overshadowed by an ineffective judiciary, an ongoing conflict, and widespread human rights abuses."Draconian Observations: "The battle over who will replace Kofi Annan as the next Secretary General of the UN is on: Annan's term expires at the end of the year, and several candidates either have or are perceived to have joined the ranks of contenders for one of the most influential and definitely important posts in the world. Financial Times has an interesting piece on the subject coming out of the World Economic Forum summit in Davos. As FT's people aptly summarize, the next UNSG faces several tough challenges."
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Blog Roundup #82

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentaryEm Asomba: "The pioneering $100 laptop program, designed to give children in developing countries access to knowledge and educational tools, came a step closer to realization today with the signing of a partnership agreement in Davos between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and One Laptop per Child (OLPC)."Coalition for Darfur: "Uganda: Ready to Attack Rebels in Congo - From Reuters: "The Ugandan military is ready to "deal with" rebels in neighbouring Congo who killed eight U.N. soldiers this week, President Yoweri Museveni said on Thursday. "We told the U.N. they should allow us to go and deal with them in Congo, because we know how to fight those criminals," Museveni said during celebrations at an airfield marking two decades since his National Resistance Movement seized power."Science Blog: "The head of the UN effort to combat the spread of the deadly bird flu virus today warmly welcomed donor pledges of $1.9 billion to fight the disease made at an international conference in China. "Quite extraordinary," was how David Nabarro, the UN System's Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza, described an amount that was much more than the $1.4 billion he had previously said was needed to combat the spread of a disease that in humans has already led to 79 deaths globally."Five Environment: "As a week of activities for United Nations World Environment Day approaches, Bayview Hunters Point continues its fight for environmental justice. In the midst of feel-good, look-good events at posh venues like the Metreon Theater in San Francisco, grassroots organizations and residents are gearing up for the largest environmental justice rally in San Francisco's history."Woodshavings: "U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan pleads for international intervention by the U.N. Security Council in Darfur in a WaPo editorial [Wednesday]. There have been positive developments. The African Union (AU) has sent a small sized contingent of about 5,000 troops to patrol Texas-sized territory amid peace talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel movement moderated by the AU. The UN Security Council has also referred Darfur to the International Criminal Court. Yet, enough hasn't been done. Annan elaborates: "I wish I could report that all these efforts had borne fruit -- that Darfur was at peace and on the road to recovery. Alas, the opposite is true. People in many parts of Darfur continue to be killed, raped and driven from their homes by the thousands." While international intervention seems legitimate and warranted in Darfur, the inevitable question arises: Are we already too late?"