In the latest edition of UN Plaza, the Enough Project's Julia Spiegel discusses the conflict in Northern Uganda, from where she recently returned. In this segment, Spiegel offers a smart background on the conflict, and introduces viewers to Joseph Kony, the murderous, child abducting leader of the Lord's Resistance Army.
Jonny Goldstein, proprietor of Jonny's Par-tay, a live video webcast program, invited me to be his guest on tomorrow's show. Jonny specializes in new media issues and he asked me to talk a bit about blogging about the UN, as well as some of UN Dispatch's partners such as On Day One and Nothing But Nets. The format looks quite innovative as viewers have the opportunity to write in and ask questions during the show. Tune at 9 pm EST.
In a new edition of Blogging Heads TV, Matthew Lee and I discuss a week's worth of news at the United Nations. We have it all covered, from UN peacekeeping funding, to the tragic UNIFIL fatalities, to Somalia. Matthew offers an interesting perspective -- he's someone "on the ground," blogging from the fourth floor of the UN Secretariat every day. While we certainly don't see eye-to-eye on everything, he is an excellent sparring partner. Particularly enlightening to me was our discussion on equipment shortages at UN peacekeeping. Apparently, says Matthew, the truck carrying the Spanish peacekeepers in Lebanon was not equiped with a so-called "frequency inhibitor" which can prevent roadside bombs from detonating. As Matthew says, this is considered a "national issue" and Spain, not the UN, is responsible for providing their soldiers' equipment. Watch the entire dicussion.
Thomas Homer-Dixon, Director of the Trudeau Centre for the Study of Peace and Conflict at the University of Toronto, recently published a book, The Upside of Down, in which he delineates a set of "techtonic stresses," including the scarcity of oil and global climate change, that could cause "a catastrophic breakdown of national and global order" but also "open up extraordinary opportunities for creative, bold reform of our societies." I recently spoke to Thomas Homer-Dixon about his book, the complexity of an effective response to global climate change, and multilateralism.
James Traub, contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine, hit a journalistic jackpot when Kofi Annan agreed to give Traub unprecedented access to the 38th floor. The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power is a sweeping insider account of the United Nations during one of the institutions most tumultuous periods. I recently spoke to Traub about his book, the prospect of UN reform, and the future of US-UN relations.Goldberg: Your book largely centers on the tenuous relationship between the United States and the United Nations since the Iraq war. Can you assess the trajectory of that relationship now, given that there's a new Secretary General and potential new US ambassador to the UN in Zalmay Khalilzad? Traub: I assume that the most important variable in US-UN relations is the attitude that the administration chooses to take toward the UN. The question of whom they choose as ambassador to the UN is more important because it reflects their mentality, not because it is somehow causative of the nature of the relationship. I suspect the same is true with their attitude toward Ban Ki-moon. What is important is not that any particular person is Secretary General, but rather that there is an evolving view inside the administration as to how useful or not the UN is to them.