Blog Roundup #84

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary

Huffington Post (Michelle Pilecki): “US Media Ignore UN Study on Iraq ‘Peace-Building’ Methods Backfiring – The United States is avoiding widely recognised peace-building processes that involve external military powers quickly creating a basic security environment and then allowing domestic peace- and nation-building efforts to succeed,” says the Inter Press Service News Agency, reporting on a new book, Security Sector Reform and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, published by the United Nations University Press: “Instead of stabilizing places like Iraq, international efforts to centralize power are creating a more fragile security environment than ever before,” the press release quotes co-editor Albrecht Schnabel, senior research fellow at swisspeace Swiss Peace Foundation, and a lecturer at the Institute of Political Science, University of Bern. “[A]lmost three years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iraq is characterized by chaos, violence and disintegration. The methods used to rebuild Iraq’s security sector are simply making matters worse.”

Free Thinking: “The late Sergio Vieira de Mello said that intolerance is dangerous because it usually hides behind dishonesty and a false pretext. According to him, the best way of securing the rule of law is through human rights.”

Dan McDermott: “AP – Polio has been stamped out in Egypt and Niger, leaving just four nations in the world where the deadly disease is endemic, the U.N. health agency said Wednesday.”

Global Voices: “South Asia, Bangladesh – Unheard Voices on a Unicef study that indicates there aren’t enough toilets for children in schools.”

Murky View: “The BBC has an excellent service called BBC Monitoring that gathers information in over 100 languages around the world and translates them into English. Unfortunately, it’s not free, but they do include information from those sources in many articles. Yesterday I ran across this article on Iranian bloggers who are discussing the nuclear issue between Iran and the West. As the tension mounts and the issue is sent to the UN Security Council. It is interesting, and I believe incredibly important, to hear what Iranians have to say on the issue. They are, after all, the ones who would be suffering most if a military strike were to proceed against Iran.”Arms Control Wonk: “Arms Control has a copy of the latest report by Olli Heinonen, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards, on Iran’s implementation of its safeguards agreement. I will post the full text a little later. Agence France Presse and Associated Press both emphasized the revalation that Iran received a 15 page document from the AQ Khan network that detailed how to cast metal into uranium spheres.”

Daily Kos: “ABC News is reporting that Iran is preparing for nuclear enrichment and blocking UN efforts to investigate: “The United Nations (UN) nuclear watchdog has confirmed Iran has begun preparing for nuclear enrichment, which can make fuel for bombs, and continues to hinder a probe of unanswered questions about Iran’s atomic aims…” There is little doubt that a nuclear Iran is the largest threat that the world now faces–the most pressing foreign policy issue facing us today.”

Daniel Drezner: “The U.S. scored two multilateral victories yesterday. First, the Quartet (the United States, European Union, Russian Federation, and the United Nations) issued a statement on the Palestinian elections: “[T]he Quartet concluded that it was inevitable that future assistance to any new government would be reviewed by donors against that government’s commitment to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap. The Quartet calls upon the newly elected PLC to support the formation of a government committed to these principles as well as the rule of law, tolerance, reform and sound fiscal management. Meanwhile, the permanent five members of the Security Council and the European Union adopted a common position on what to do with Iran for now. Kevin Sullivan and Dafna Linzer explain in the Washington Post: “The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — along with Germany, agreed Monday night to report Iran to the Security Council over its nuclear program.”

Democracy Arsenal: “With all the pressing issues in the news – Iraq, Iran, Hamas, North Korea – it’s not surprising that what’s happening inside Darfur has moved to the side. But the next few weeks will be critical – the mandate for the underfunded and beleaguered 5000-troop protection force headed by the African Union is due to expire by March 31, and things in Darfur are only getting worse. During the past year, there has been a lot of well-intentioned international activity to help Darfur – but the killing isn’t stopping. As John Prendergast recently told the New York Times, “Darfur is in a free fall.” Kofi Annan agrees. “People in many parts of Darfur,” he wrote last week, “continue to be killed, raped and driven from their homes by the thousands.” With the United States assuming the presidency of the UN Security Council tomorrow, the Bush Administration has an opportunity to press for a new and more meaningful policy to stop the killing. As Kenneth Bacon writes in today’s New York Times (and others have echoed), the United States should use the next 28 days to save Darfur. … This is a huge test for John Bolton. It will be his only chance to sit in the Presidency chair — his recess appointment as Ambassador expires in January 2007 – and therefore his moment to deliver something.”

Ethan Zuckerman: “Abdul Badrakhan, the deputy editor of Al Hayat, suggests that the current controversy over cartoons in a Danish newspaper is a good way to frame the issues of “Journalism at the Crossroads: Who Defines Professional Ethics?” For the average Dane, the freedom to express oneself is sacred. In the case of these cartoons (which portrayed the Prophet wearing a turban made of a bomb with a lit fuse), they’re hurtful and offensive to Muslims. How can we consider an issue like this using the same yardstick? Martin Bell, a former foreign correspondent for the BBC and now an ambassador for UNICEF, frames his remarks in terms of war and peace. Observing that there are more journalists dead in Iraq in three years than in the entirity of the Vietnam War, he says, “Wars are increasingly difficult to report, and increasingly difficult to survive.”