Blog Roundup #77

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary

Transmutations: “Today’s New York Times has an editorial concerning Ambassador Bolton’s proposal for the new Human Rights monitoring council. The Times seems to be in favor of reform at the United Nations, but against Bolton’s proposal because it does not serve the interests of members states and people who most need the rights to be protected. The leaders of the United States must change their policies and redress the wrongs they have done. Otherwise, they will face the consequences — both from the United Nations, and possibly from foreign malcontents. As for the latter, I am not condoning this, but simply state the obvious. Both the U.S. and the UN need reforms to participate as responsible leaders in the 21st Century. Enacting the change that the Human Rights Commission proposes would facilitate these reforms. Ambassador Bolton’s “couldn’t care less” attitude would only exacerbate the problem. Justice is the issue, not politics as usual at the UN.”

Payne Hollow: “Here’s at least one study that acknowledges the wisdom of peacemaking: A major study by the Rand Corp. published this year found that U.N. peace-building operations had a two-thirds success rate. They were also surprisingly cost-effective. In fact, the United Nations spends less running 17 peace operations around the world for an entire year than the United States spends in Iraq in a single month. What the United Nations calls “peacemaking” — using diplomacy to end wars — has been even more successful. About half of all the peace agreements negotiated between 1946 and 2003 have been signed since the end of the Cold War.”

The Ruth Group: “Writing in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Andrew Mack reaffirms that UN peacekeeping is having a tangible impact on levels of global violence: “Other international agencies, donor governments and nongovernmental organizations also played a critical role, but it was the United Nations that took the lead, pushing a range of conflict-prevention and peace-building initiatives on a scale never before attempted. The number of U.N. peacekeeping operations and missions to prevent and stop wars has increased by more than 400 percent since the end of the Cold War. As this upsurge of international activism grew in scope and intensity through the 1990s, the number of crises, wars and genocides declined.”

Low Level Panel: “Ralph Bunche, the first UN official ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize, said that the UN exists “not merely to preserve the peace but also to make change-even radical change-possible without violent upheaval. The United Nations has no vested interest in the status quo.”Bird Flu Watch: “Bird Flu Claims Third Victim In Turkey – Even vendors selling bird feed at a market in Istanbul aren’t taking chances. Officials confirmed three children from the same family have died from bird flu in eastern Turkey, marking a major shift westwards to the edge of Europe of a disease that has so far claimed lives in eastern Asia. The H5N1 virus remains hard for people to catch, but there are fears it could mutate into a form easily transmitted among humans. Experts say a pandemic among humans could kill millions around the globe and cause massive economic losses. But, a U.N. official said the news from Turkey was disturbing but not yet a cause for panic. “This is not the start of the pandemic. The start of the pandemic starts when there is human to human transfer, confirmed and sustained,” Dr. David Nabarro, senior coordinator for avian influenza at the United Nations, told Reuters.”

Brlogsbane: “Parag Khanna’s article about the United Nations in January’s issue of Harpers is rivetting, and sad, and beautifully written. Most of the criticism of the UN that I’ve read has been by people who don’t like what the UN is trying to achieve in the first place. If you read an opinion piece about the UN in the Murdoch press, it’s most likely a defense of the United States imposing its will on the world. The buzzard-like commentators are usually barely able to hide their glee at the UN’s paralysis. (Sometimes that paralysis is not a bad thing, mind. Remember the gloating at the start of the Iraq war about how the UN didn’t have the bottle to invade Iraq?) Khanna’s article is refreshing because he’s actually sad and frustrated about the UN’s current condition.”

Democratic Underground: “Think about it this way: Where would the world be without the UN?

* Where would the 40+ million refugees and internally displaced people around this world be without the UN High Commissioner for Refugees ( ), which gives victims of genocide, war, and other forms of violence (over 80% of whom are women and children) food, shelter, education and protection?

* Where would the world’s poorest children be without UNICEF?

* Where would the world’s hungry be without the World Food Program?

* What other body can bring together 160+ world leaders at the same time in a peaceful way to discuss an agenda that includes world poverty and the Millennium Development Goals (as happened just this September at the UN World Summit in NYC?)

* How many more world treasures would have been destroyed if not for the protection of UNESCO? (the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Org).”

Dying in Darfur: “As the military and humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in Sudan, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has expressed concern over the slow deployment of troops with the U.N. peacekeeping mission currently underway in the politically troubled African nation.” []

PC Information: “, a massive central data source and a handy way to graphically compare nations. NationMaster is a vast compilation of data from such sources as the CIA World Factbook, United Nations, World Health Organization, World Bank, World Resources Institute, UNESCO, UNICEF and OECD. Using the form above, you can generate maps and graphs on all kinds of statistics with ease.”