Blog Roundup #89

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary

Informed Comment: “Bringing the United Nations Back In – There will be anti-War protests in the coming month, as the 3-year anniversary of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq approaches. I think it is time to demand a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq. I suspect a majority of Iraqi parliamentarians want that. The Sunni Arabs demand it. The Sadrists demand it. It is time. Saying that the guerrillas would take advantage of a timetable, given the carnage we saw on Monday is frankly silly. They are taking advantage of the current situation. We have to create a new situation, with which they might be happier so that they stop blowing things up. Staying this course is untenable. But that step will not necessarily resolve the crisis. I think the peace movement has a real opportunity here to make a push for much heavier United Nations involvement in Iraq. I say, let’s make up placards calling on Kofi Annan to get involved, and calling on Bush to let the UN come in in a big way, with proper protection.”

Democracy Arsenal: “I spent this weekend at a conference organized by the Stanley Foundation on UN Reform. Stanley is deeply valued at the UN for convening in-depth, substantive sessions that are small enough to allow participants to engage and actually reach decisions. David Shorr, an occasional guest-blogger here, has masterminded these UN events in recent years. This weekend he and Stanley Foundation President Dick Stanley focused on the nuts and bolts of how to streamline the thousands of UN mandates that have accumulated over the years. They convened a group including a dozen UN ambassadors from major countries (none with mustaches), a handful of their deputies, a few top Secretariat and US government officials, one academic and one blogger. For me it was a chance to delve back into reform issues 5 years after completing negotiations at the US Mission to the UN to reform the organization’s financial system in 2001. Here are 10 reasons why the weekend left me somewhat heartened on prospects for UN reform…”Netsquared: “I’m having time over this long weekend to catch up on some of my favorite podcasts, including UNICEF’s podcast. In a February 6th program, they announced the launch of the UNICEF vodcast. Here’s what UNICEF’s Chief of the Internet, Broadcast and Image Section, Stephen Cassidy, had to say about why they chose to use this new tool: “UNICEF wants to be part of that group of people who are participating in this new technology. We think early adopters will be people that we want to talk with and that they will spread the word in a broader community. We want the world to be interested in the health, education, equality and protection of the world’s children. As part of delivering that message, we’re seeking every possible platform, every single mountaintop from which to call our message, and the vodcast is the latest way that we can accomplish that goal.”

Moderate Voice: “Finally: “President Bush on Friday called for doubling the number of international troops in the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan and a bigger role for NATO in the peacekeeping effort. After private talks with world leaders, including U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Bush decided to call for an additional 7,000 or more troops to be placed under U.N. command, along with the 7,000 African Union troops already there, because such an expansion would be the quickest way to intervene in the bloody conflict, the officials said.” However, given the administration’s very pessimistic view on the UN’s effectiveness, does this mean anything at all? Cynical? Sure, but that’s what we’re dealing with right now in this region. Worldwide pessimism Truly, how many people have to die before we make a serious march towards curing the situation in this region? Let’s hope this policy can make a difference.”

Washington Note: “Interestingly, a name that appears on every serious list as a potential successor to Kofi Annan, whose term ends on December 31st of this year, is Prince Zeid Raed al-Hussein of Jordan . Richard Holbrooke identifies Prince Zeid as a “dark horse” candidate for the UN Secretary General job, but he has a major ally working quietly (believe it or not) on his behalf: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.”