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UNESCO Down. 16 More to Go

The fracas over Palestinian admittance to UNESCO and the American suspension of its funds was merely a prelude to the real drama that will come. Palestinian officials are now saying that they are looking at 16 other UN agencies to which they can apply for membership–everything from the Universal Postal Union to the World Health Organization and IAEA. And of course for every UN agency that Palestine joins, the USA must stop funding.  “Palestinian officials said that after Monday’s UNESCO vote, Palestinian Health Minister Fathi Abu Mughli was so excited that he rushed to the local offices of the World Health Organization to get information on joining. The moves come as the Palestinians are increasingly seeking unilateral moves toward statehood that would bypass peace talks. A key test of those efforts could come as soon as next week. The Palestinians have asked the U.N. Security Council to grant them full membership in the United Nations, and a vote is tentatively set for Nov. 11.” (WAPO http://wapo.st/rBFRDW)

Warning Somali Civilians of Imminent Air strikes…140 Characters at a time

Two days after a Kenyan air strike killed at least 5 civilians, the spokesman of the Kenyan military has been kind enough to use Twitter to warn specific communities in Somalia that they will soon be under heavy fire. “Kenya’s military warned the residents of 10 towns in Somalia on Tuesday, including the port city of Kismayu, Baidoa and Afgoye near the capital Mogadishu, that they ‘will be under attack continuously.’ Kenyan military spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir said on his Twitter account that anyone with relatives and friends in the towns listed should be advised accordingly…The fact the towns listed include places beyond the southern part of Somalia where Kenyan troops are advancing suggests the east African country may step up airstrikes on areas where al Shabaab rebels have strongholds…Other towns listed by the Kenyan Defence Forces spokesman included Buale, Afmadow, Baar Dheere, Dinsoor and Jilib, the place hit by a Kenyan airstrike on Sunday.” (Reuters http://bit.ly/w24nAy)

Mercenaries in the Crosshairs?

A UN panel of experts on mercenaries presented a new report arguing a resurgence in illegal mercenary activity in the last year. The panel also called on states to sign a convention on the legitimate uses of private military contractors. “[UN Panel Chair Faiza Patel] cited reports that former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo hired some 4,500 Liberian mercenaries in a failed attempt to beat off the forces of rival Alassane Ouattara…In Libya, she noted that the U.N. Human Rights Council had concluded foreigners from neighboring African countries and possibly Eastern Europe had taken part in the country’s civil war and committed rights abuses, especially fighters for ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi…The group also urged countries to address the problem of private military and security firms, an industry Patel said could be worth anything from $20 billion to $100 billion per year and is being increasingly used by governments, companies and even the United Nations.The U.N. panel has drafted a proposed convention that would define what activities such companies could carry out, obligate states to set up national registration and licensing schemes, and set up an international monitoring mechanism. U.N. member states are currently studying the draft. An intergovernmental working group set up by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council is due to hold its next meeting in January. “Reuters http://reut.rs/vknRqS)

2011 Human Development Report: Environmental Trends Threaten Global Progress for the Poor

UNDP’s annual flagship report was released today in Copenhagen. This year’s HDR shows how climate change threatens to reverse poverty alleviation gains made over the last decade. “Development progress in the world’s poorest countries could be halted or even reversed by mid-century unless bold steps are taken now to slow climate change, prevent further environmental damage, and reduce deep inequalities within and among nations, according to projections in the 2011 Human Development Report, launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) here today. The 2011 Report—Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All—argues that environmental sustainability can be most fairly and effectively achieved by addressing health, education, income, and gender disparities together with the need for global action on energy production and ecosystem protection. The Report was launched in Copenhagen today by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, whose new government has pledged to reduce Denmark’s CO2 emissions by a dramatic 40 percent over the next 10 years. As the world community prepares for the landmark UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, the Report argues that sustainability must be approached as a matter of basic social justice, for current and future generations alike.” (UNDP http://bit.ly/vd9JZ8)

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