Yesterday, for the first time, the UN Security Council addressed the issue of climate change, energy, and global security (video: part 1 | part 2). I sat in on the six-plus-hour open session, called by the British and led by British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett. Although the major news outlets focused on a disagreement between the G-77 and the developed world over the appropriateness of the venue, there were many other topics that were discussed that could have bearing on the way the world chooses to the face the effects of climate change.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today approved the nomination of Zalmay Khalilzad to be U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Today the world observes World Water Day, a moment dedicated to a widespread, but often-overlooked issue. The UN's 2007 World Water Day website delivers some sobering statistics:
In an industrialized city with plenty of water, flushing the toilet in an average household can send up to 50 litres of water down the drain every day. Yet more than one in six people worldwide -- 1.1 billion -- don't have access to 20-50 litres of safe freshwater daily, the minimum range suggested by the UN to ensure each person's basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Two people in five lack proper sanitation facilities, and every day, 3,800 children die from diseases associated with a lack of safe drinking water and proper sanitation.Both water use and the world population are growing, which means that water will only grow more scarce. And, the implications of that scarcity are not limited to humanitarian concerns, though those concerns are great (guaranteeing water security is central to achieving the Millennium Development Goals).
Jane Holl Lute, UN Assistant Secretary-General of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, recently gave a short, but compelling, view of the logistical difficulties inherent in peacekeeping and the difficult mandates given to UN peacekeepers. (Earlier we posted video from the same address on the role of women in post-conflict environments.) Having fought in the U.S. Army during the First Gulf War and lectured at West Point, Lute is thoroughly familiar with the security benefits that UN peacekeeping imparts to the American public and the rest of the world. Although Lute doesn't make the connection in these videos, Mark Leon Goldberg, in a recent UNF Insights piece, discussed how growing U.S. arrears to UN peacekeeping are making the already difficult jobs of UN peacekeepers even harder and how "if this trend is sustained, ongoing missions will suffer, and some of the newly proposed missions, such as Darfur, could starve before they ever get off the ground." As the U.S. continues to face significant global security threats, it would be wise for Congressional appropriators, as they tackle the supplemental and look toward FY08 appropriations, to consider UN peacekeeping's benefits to U.S. security, the difficulties inherent in maintaining the peace in 18 conflict zones around the world, and the debilitating effects of denying proper funding. For those of you who are interested, the Better World Campaign has created tailor-made letters that you can send to your member of Congress.
Complex logistics of UN peacekeeping
Difficult mandates given to UN peacekeepers.
In January, Dispatch reported on inflated allegations that United Nations Development Program funds were being converted widely into hard currency to the benefit of the North Korean government. In response to these allegations UNDP moved swiftly, responsibly, and comprehensively to review the concerns expressed by member states. Ultimately, these efforts led to the suspension of certain operations in North Korea. UNDP's handling of the situation has been widely praised, but that hasn't stopped some from reraking the muck in an attempt to discredit the agency.
Fast on the heels of the report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council on Darfur, the United Nations Foundation today published "UNF Insights: Darfur and Beyond," an essay written by Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Lee Feinstein on a revolutionary principle adopted by the United Nations -- the "responsibility to protect" -- and the steps that could be taken to translate that principle into action -- both in Darfur and in preventing future mass atrocities.
Darfur and the Responsibility to Protect
One year ago the United Nations formally endorsed a principle known as the "responsibility to protect," the idea that mass atrocities that take place in one state are the concern of all states. The universal adoption of this principle at the United Nations World Summit in 2005 went relatively unnoticed. Yet it was a turning point in how states define their rights and responsibilities....The question now is whether this pledge was humanitarian hypocrisy, or did they have something serious in mind? Read more...
UN Assistant Secretary-General of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Jane Holl Lute, spoke candidly about women, peacekeeping, and the role of women in post-conflict areas yesterday at a lunch celebrating International Women's Day. The event was hosted by the UN Foundation, the UN Information Center, and the Women's Foreign Policy Group. More videos are available after the jump.
UN's reponse to allegations of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers.
Engagement by women harbinger of success in UN peacekeeping missions.