Blog Roundup #83

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary

Public Diplomacy Watch: “Travel Weekly has a good story about Tim Wirth and Ted Turner’s UN Foundation, and its efforts to enlist the travel industry in protecting places designated as “World Heritage” sites by the UN.”

Sudan Watch: “A new detailed UN report warns that killings, rapes and indiscriminate attacks are still forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes in Darfur. Excerpt from Scotsman January 28, 2006: “A 42-page report said those carrying out the violence included soldiers who fired at civilians from helicopter gunships. The report criticised the government of coup leader Omar el-Bashir, saying promises to end centuries of discrimination and marginalisation of black African minorities were marked by “token gestures” while murder and torture went unpunished.” UN News Centre January 27, 2006 reports that while noting some progress since peace accords were signed last year, such as the lifting emergency law in certain areas, the OHCHR report says other initiatives have been inadequate, especially in Darfur, where any positive political measures were “overshadowed by an ineffective judiciary, an ongoing conflict, and widespread human rights abuses.”

Draconian Observations: “The battle over who will replace Kofi Annan as the next Secretary General of the UN is on: Annan’s term expires at the end of the year, and several candidates either have or are perceived to have joined the ranks of contenders for one of the most influential and definitely important posts in the world. Financial Times has an interesting piece on the subject coming out of the World Economic Forum summit in Davos. As FT’s people aptly summarize, the next UNSG faces several tough challenges.”Kenneth Anderson: “UN Secretary General contenders square off at Davos, January 2006 – AFP on contenders to succeed Kofi Annan as Secretary General, debating at Davos, January 26, 2006: “Contenders for UN’s top job face off at Davos – Some of the contenders touted to replace UN chief Kofi Annan set out their stalls when they faced off at a debate here on the future of the worldbody. Joining Annan on stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, were Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moonof South Korea and senior Sri Lankan diplomat Jayantha Dhanapala. All three promised to continue sweeping UN reforms, with Vike-Freiberga in particular lashing the make-up and influence of the Security Council’s five permanent, veto-wielding members…”

Paper Chase: “Lebanon says initial UN talks on Hariri tribunal ‘fruitful’ – Lebanese government officials have called “fruitful” initial consultations with visiting UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel on the establishment of an international tribunal for suspects in the February 2004 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A UN spokesperson also described the meetings constructive and positive. Lebanon Justice Minister Charles Rizk is reported to have suggested either an international tribunal set up outside of Lebanon, or a Lebanon-located court of international judges. Government officials and observers appear to agree that a completely-internal Lebanese proceeding would be too controversial, especial as Syrian defendants could be involved. The UN is authorized to lend assistance to the
Lebanese government in setting up a tribunal under UN Security Council Resolution 1644. This is the first of several planned trips by Michel to Lebanon. Reuters has more.”

Techwack: “The $US100 laptop project has got another major backer in the form of the United Nations. The UN lent its support to this innovative project, which aims to provide inexpensive, hand-cranked laptops to school-aged children worldwide. The announcement would be turned into a deal when Kemal Dervis, head of the UN Development Program, will sign a memorandum of understanding Saturday with Nicholas Negroponte at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. Negroponte is the chairman of One Laptop per Child project. The project has an initial aim of delivering at least 1 million units by the end of next year. These would be sold to governments around the world at cost price for distribution to small children in schools. The project now gets the much-needed support from the UNDP, which would be working with the organization to deliver “technology and resources to targeted schools in the least developed countries.”

Feministing: “A United Nations event honoring Mukhtar Mai was cancelled after Pakistan lobbied against it, arguing that it would be embarrassing to the Prime Minister. Mai is a Pakistani woman was publicly gang-raped on orders of a village court.”