The UN is out with a new report showing that natural disasters cost about $109 billion in economic damage in 2010. That's compared to about $35 billion in 2009.
Opinio Juris' Kevin Jon Heller offers a fascinating report of his first interview with his client, indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic (Mark rightly praised Kevin's decision to defend Karadzic here). While the substance of their conversation is, of course, confidential, Kevin does divulge Karadzic's preferences in soda (
grape Fanta plain old Coke) and Monty Python flicks ("Life of Brian"), as well as some interesting commentary on the architecture and location of the UN Detention Unit in The Hague, Netherlands. Here, Kevin expresses his confidence that Karadzic's trial will not devolve into the counter-productive ranting that marred the trial of his former boss, Slobodan Milosevic (not to mention that of Saddam Hussein in Iraq):
Finally, I came away from our meeting feeling very comfortable with Dr. Karadzic's decision to represent himself. I would, of course, prefer that he hire [his legal associate, Peter Robinson] as his legal counsel. But nothing he said to me indicates that his behavior in the courtroom will bear any resemblance to Milosevic, much less to Seselj. I don't know whether he believes that the ICTY [International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia] is legitimate; I didn't ask him. I do know, though, that he views his trial as an opportunity to challenge the ICTY's often problematic jurisprudence and to ensure that the Tribunal's official narrative of the events in the former FRY does not exclude the Serbian view. Moreover, I know that he recognizes his limitations and appreciates the legal advice that he is receiving from Peter, from me, and from the many academics and law students we have brought into the case.Karadzic, Kevin reports, appears sanguine about his prospects. Bringing him to the appropriate justice will be important for victims of the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia in the mid-90's; with Kevin's legal assistance, the trial has an opportunity not only to ensure accountability, but to boost the legitimacy of the ICTY proceedings and strengthen the concept of fair justice itself.(image from flickr user Grumbler %-| under a Creative Commons license)
The Washington Post's Colum Lynch relays both the good news about the UN's work combatting AIDS --
About 3 million people infected with the AIDS virus in the developing world received life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs last year, a 42 percent increase over 2006 in the number with access to the medicines, a U.N. report said Monday.-- and the bad news of the daunting hurdles that remain.
But U.N. officials cautioned that 70 percent of AIDS victims still have no access to the medicines and that the number of newly infected people worldwide in 2007 was still 2.5 times the number receiving treatment. HIV/AIDS remains the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa.This story of progress and remaining challenges is anything but a contradiction. HIV/AIDS is unprecedented as a modern epidemic, and even as the world mounts an increasingly robust response to this devastating disease, the scope of the problem continues to expand, setting the stage for what will remain a prolonged battle to prevent infection and to help the millions already living with HIV/AIDS. The UN will discuss the next steps in this battle tomorrow, when world leaders and health officials meet to discuss both AIDS and the related threat posed by tuberculosis.