Blog Roundup #71

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary

Washington Note: “The American Prospect‘s Mark Leon Goldberg writes the first serious assessment of John Bolton’s tenure thus far as the recess-appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations… the big news that Mark Goldberg breaks is that the American Prospect has confirmed that it was John Bolton himself who scuttled Secretary of State Rice’s efforts to offer Syria a Libya-like opportunity to get itself out of the international dog house. Goldberg writes: “The tension between Rice and Bolton has grown dramatically in several areas, most notably with regard to Syria: The Prospect has learned that Bolton was the source of an October leak to the British press that submarined sensitive negotiations Rice was overseeing with that country.”

Daily Kos: “The $100 laptop has arrived. It is hand-crank-powered, has built-in wi-fi, and promises to bring the technology to millions of children in the developing world. This is really cool stuff, even if Intel’s Craig Barret is being a grinch about it. Apparently, the $100 laptop competes against his own company’s efforts. (Here’s a story with picture of the device.)”

Eclecticity: “My friend Tyson Vaughan pointed me to this article outlining the findings of a UN study of poverty in the United States. A primary conclusion of the report is that racial poverty is systemic in our country and that such poverty constitutes a human rights violation under the meaning of that term as defined by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.”

Arms Control Wonk: “ElBaradei Accepts Nobel Prize – what he said: “I believe it is because our security strategies have not yet caught up with the risks we are facing. The globalization that has swept away the barriers to the movement of goods, ideas and people has also swept with it barriers that confined and localized security threats. A recent United Nations High-Level Panel identified five categories of threats that we face: 1. Poverty, Infectious Disease, and Environmental Degradation; 2. Armed Conflict – both within and among States; 3. Organized Crime; 4. Terrorism; and 5. Weapons of Mass Destruction. These are all “threats without borders” – where traditional notions of national security have become obsolete. We cannot respond to these threats by building more walls, developing bigger weapons, or dispatching more troops. Quite to the contrary. By their very nature, these security threats require primarily multinational cooperation.”

Coalition for Darfur: “Congo: As Militiamen Flee, Calm Descends At Last – From Knight Ridder: “After years of false starts and costly failures, peace is finally taking hold in Congo’s remote northeastern Ituri region, a key battleground in a pan-African war that’s claimed 4 million lives. In recent weeks, Congo’s patchwork national army, backed by United Nations peacekeepers, has chased some 4,000 militiamen into the dense forests near the Ugandan border. It was the most aggressive military action to date against the once-fearsome militias that held sway here. The militias still control some Ituri villages. But 16,000 have turned in their guns under a 2003 peace agreement, and U.N. and Congolese officials say the militias are on their last legs.”

Daily Kos (Plutonium Page): “Yesterday was the last day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal. It was a historical conference because it is the very first meeting of the countries who have ratified the Kyoto Protocol; one goal of the conference is to discuss the extension of the Kyoto Protocol. So, how did the conference go? There was definite progress made, but not without difficulty, and that’s the subject of this post.”

Disinformation: “Washington Post’s Elizabeth Gross investigates the ‘digital dumps’ and landfills that have swamped Nigeria in recent years. Organizations such as the Basel Action Network and the United Nations Environment Program have been monitoring the environmental degradation and export of legacy computer parts.”

Gristmill: “Finally, some good news. From Mongabay: Friday, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Montreal, the U.N. agreed to a proposal that allows developing nations to receive financial compensation from industrialized countries for agreeing to preserve their rainforests. Environmentalists hope the deal — set forth by ten developing countries led by Papua New Guinea — will give developing nations a financial reason to get more involved in climate talks while safeguarding globally important ecosystems.”

Ethan Zuckerman: “Jane Perrone spent the full day with us at the Global Voices summit, representing The Guardian. Her article on the conference is spot on (as is her accompanying blog post) and begins with a lead that’s going to be one of my favorites of all time: “The Global Voices conference called to mind a United Nations of blogging: there was a Cambodian sitting next to an Iranian sitting next to an Indian sitting next to a Kenyan sitting next to Richard Dreyfuss.”

OUPBlog: “Louise Arbour, a former Canadian judge who is now the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the United Nations on December 7 that “Governments are watering down the definition of torture, claiming that terrorism means established rules do not apply anymore.” The United Nations press release on her remarks further describes her as calling “on all Governments to reaffirm their commitment to the absolute prohibition of torture by condemning torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and prohibiting it in national law.” There can be little doubt that the “government” she is most trying to speak to is our own.”