Blog Roundup #61

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary

Kinshasa on the Potomac: “The details on the measures taken to halt the latest outbreak of H5 in China are, in the words of Noureddin Mona, representative for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in China, “not a good signal.” Almost 370,000 birds were culled in the affected area, a 3km zone in Liaoning province. Similar massive cullings have been carried out in other countries. Even if H5N1 never makes it into the human population in a strain that can sustain human-to-human transmission, the amount of economic damage being done is considerable and will only grow.”

Paper Chase: “The US has circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution that would extend the UN mandate of 180,000 multinational force currently in Iraq for another year. The US-led multinational force was originally authorized in May 2004 under UN Security Council resolution 1546. The latest draft, which the US proposed on Wednesday, is expected to draw opposition from Russia and others on the Security Council, and it represents a departure from previous mandates, which have required renewal every six months. The current UN mandate expires following parliamentary elections on Dec. 15, but it would be extended under the US draft resolution to Dec. 31, 2006.”

Think Progress: “Earler this year, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the United States was adhering to both U.S. law and treaty obligations outlawing torture. But the Washington Post reports today that the U.S. is keeping prisoners in a system of secret, “black-site” prisons around the world, where they can be treated to punishment which the U.N. Convention on torture and U.S. military law does not allow.”

Coalition for Darfur: “From the BBC: “Ethiopia and Eritrea have moved more troops and tanks towards their common border, a United Nations official says. The UN has revised its assessment of the border situation between the two countries from “stable” to “tense”. Ethiopia has not withdrawn its troops from land awarded to Eritrea by an international demarcation commission. The demarcation followed a border war in which 70,000 people died. Eritrea has recently restricted the operations of UN troops patrolling the border. A source at the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (Unmee) told journalists on Wednesday that both countries have moved more troops and tanks towards the border in the past two or three weeks.”

Disinformation: “The declaration last week by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that “Israel must be wiped off the map” has triggered diplomatic shifts about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Ahmadinejad’s comments have angered the United Nations, Russia, and others who had given Iran tacit support. James Forsyth also examines UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s reaction, and his use of ‘reframing’ tactics to influence the subsequent debate.”

Informed Comment: “Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari asked the UN to extend the mandate for coalition troops in Iraq for up to another year. But the Iraqi government wants the UN to review the resolution 8 months from now, and at any time that the Iraqi government requests a review.”

Simon World: “Bates Gill is not just a spoonerism of the world’s richest man. He is a noted expert on China and amongst other things, the HIV/AIDS problem in China. Meanwhile China has a well-known penchant for fiddling statistics, especially as many public servants are measured by these statistics. But sometimes this can hide positive trends for fear of ridicule. The SCMP reports on Bates Gill’s observations: “Beijing may be keeping new estimates of the number of HIV infections on the mainland secret because they are lower than previously published figures and could undermine the government’s credibility… This could be the reason why the official HIV figure had remained at 840,000 for the past two years, said Bates Gill, a China expert at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies. The estimate of 840,000 HIV-positive cases was arrived at using modeling techniques, and was the result of a co-operative effort between China, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids.”

Thoughts From Kansas: “Dana Priest has a stunning article in today’s Post, CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons: “The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement. The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago … CIA interrogators in the overseas sites are permitted to use the CIA’s approved “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques,” some of which are prohibited by the U.N. convention and by U.S. military law.”