"The United Nations said on Wednesday that seven of its peacekeepers, who were kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 10 days earlier, were well and that indirect contact had been established with their captors.
"A United Nations Security Council delegation begins talks today with Sudanese government officials to press demands for a UN peacekeeping force to help end fighting in the western region of Darfur.
"The upcoming national election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is not only a huge logistical undertaking but could shape the future of the rest of Africa, says former U.S. ambassador Bill Swing, who now heads up the 17,000-man United Nations peacekeeping force MONUC.
In Wednesday's Los Angeles Times, Max Boot revisits the idea of sending mercenaries to Darfur in lieu of U.N. peacekeepers. This is something of a pet idea among a category of foreign policy thinkers in the United States who are generally skeptical about humanitarian interventions, but nonetheless want to "do something" about Darfur. Nikolas Gvosdev, editor of realist journal The National Interest, for example, raised this idea at a Cato Institute event in March.
To Ed Lasky, the Secretary General's decision to evacuate non-essential U.N. personnel from East Timor is proof positive of the U.N.'s inherent fecklessness: "Meant to protect civilians, UN staff have run away from the capital of East Timor after an outbreak of violence... If someone says "boo" to them, they turn tail." Lasky, however, does not bother to mention that those workers who were evacuated from East Timor last week were civil servants who perform important (but in a conflict zone, non-essential) tasks such as HIV/Aids education, civil society training, legal work, and more.
Memorial Day (May 29) was also the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. Here's an excerpt of a message by the President of the General Assembly: "The General Assembly first designated 29 May as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers four years ago. On this day, we pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication and courage of all the men and women serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations, and honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace."
"The United States is proposing a Security Council resolution that would give the United Nations control over Darfur peacekeeping operations, which are now being handled by the African Union. The Council will take up the matter at a special ministerial level meeting." [More]
"An overwhelming 94 per cent of Liberians said that the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) made them more secure in the aftermath of a bloody, decade-long civil war, and they gave high marks to the operation for its quick-impact projects and information outreach, according to a poll made public today." [More]
"The U.N. Security Council demanded that the Sudanese government and rebels reach agreement by April 30 to end the conflict in Darfur and reaffirmed its determination to hold accountable those blocking peace and violating human rights.