Blog Roundup #55

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary

Smart Mobs: “A Washington Post article on attempts to present real social problems as tasks to be solved in a video game. For instance, the United Nations’ World Food Programme released a game called Foodforce, in which the player must figure out how to feed an island of people.”

Magpie: “UN officials are warning that a measles epidemic could hit the survivors of the South Asia earthquake. According to the World Health Organization, the collapse of the devastated region’s health system makes it vital that children be vaccinated against the disease as soon as possible.”

Feministing: “The United Nations said yesterday that poverty can’t be adequately addressed until it takes on social, economic and physical discrimination against women. “Gender apartheid” could scuttle the global body’s goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015, the U.N. Population Fund’s annual State of World Population report said.”

Carpetbagger: “A top United Nations envoy returned from the Darfur region of Sudan recently and had discouraging news: the calamity is actually getting worse: “I found the situation much more dangerous and worrisome than I expected it to be,” said [Juan Mendez, special adviser to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan], who just completed his second visit to the region in the past year. “Until last week, there have never been concerted, massive attacks of an indiscriminate nature against civilians” in camps in Darfur. Mendez was prepared to share his findings with representatives on the U.N. Security Council, but was denied the opportunity – by Bush’s man at the U.N., John Bolton.”

Waveflux: “A few weeks ago, my brother told me that he was leery of the news nowadays because the headlines seemed to be one full-on catastrophe after another. This weekend was no exception. Pakistan took the brunt of the 7.6 quake on Saturday, but India and Afghanistan were also affected. CNN has published a couple of stories about relief efforts, here and here. Initial U.S. reconstruction/relief aid of “up to” $50 million dollars, eight military choppers dispatched, other assets coming (likely from Afghanistan, I’m thinking). UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) is moving emergency medical supplies, children’s clothing, water purification materials, nutritional supplements, and blankets and plastic tarps to northern Pakistan. UNICEF needs donations now.”

Insecurity Forum: “From Annan: Intellectual Breakthrough On Security, Development, Rights – “Beyond specific commitments ranging from strengthening humanitarian mechanisms to reforming UN management, Secretary-General Kofi Annan this week hailed a global mind-change at last month’s United Nations World Summit that linked security, development and human rights. “I think in a way we did make a sort of intellectual breakthrough at the Summit, as the Member States accepted, or acknowledged, for the first time the indivisible links between security, development and human rights,” he told an Executive Committee meeting of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva.”

Stygius: “Via nadezhda‘s links, Reuters: “Ambassador John Bolton blocked a U.N. envoy on Monday from briefing the Security Council on grave human rights violations in Sudan’s Darfur region, saying the council had to act against atrocities and not just talk about them…” Let’s take a moment to remember what kind of “action” Bolton prefers in the face of atrocity and genocide.”

Trigger Fish: “Mass industrialization has contributed to a perfect storm for avian flu to break out?: “[I]ndustrial chicken operations are growing exponentially thanks to the resettlement of large agribusinesses in search of lower operational costs. Last year in Latin America and the Caribbean, there were over 2.5 billion chickens, nearly 1 billion more than 10 years ago, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. In 2004, according to Worldwatch Institute, Brazil became the world’s second-largest poultry producer, just behind the United States. Such expansion of industrial farming in less developed countries usually is accompanied by poor surveillance and control.”