United Nations Security Council

Counter-terrorism; South Sudan; Iran; Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and more | UN Dispatch

Posted on Updated on

Counter-terrorism: At the Security Council’s high-level debate on Counter-terrorism today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he hoped Member States will decide to create the position of a UN Counter-Terrorism Coordinator to promote better coordination, collaboration and cooperation among all players.

Mr. Ban told the Security Council, during its debate on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, that terrorism is a significant threat to peace and security, prosperity and people, and the global community continues to pursue a robust and comprehensive response.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council says international terrorism is increasingly motivated by intolerance and extremism and its perpetrators are increasingly resorting to kidnapping for ransom and coordinating acts with organized crime. A presidential statement approved by the council Friday also expressed concern at the growing use of the internet and new information and communications technologies by terrorists to recruit, incite, finance and prepare their illegal activities.


South Sudan:
The United Nations announced today that U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will visit South Sudan for four days starting Tuesday. Pillay is to meet with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and other top government and civil leaders beginning Tuesday. She’ll discuss the risk to civilians caught up in the hostilities between both countries.


Iran:
A group of independent UN experts today condemned the ongoing arrests and harsh sentencing of human rights defenders in Iran, and urged the Government to ensure they are provided with adequate protection. Along with fellow experts, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed voiced particular concern about the situation of Nargess Mohammadi, whose state of health is reportedly extremely fragile.


DR Congo:
The UN refugee agency is helping more than 20,000 people who have fled fighting between government forces and renegade troops in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in recent days and found shelter in areas near Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. According to UNHCR field staff, people are still heading toward Goma and its environs from their homes in the affected Masisi and Walikale territories, located west and north-west of Goma, but the flow has eased slightly. The refugee agency has registered 10,300 people at a spontaneous site 25 kilometres from Goma, and 9,000 in Mugunga III, one of 31 UNHCR-run settlements for IDPs in North Kivu.


UN Youth Forum
: The creation of green jobs is essential to ensure a sustainable future, United Nations officials stressed today at a forum held at the Organization’s Headquarters in New York aimed at giving young people a platform to voice their concerns, experiences and ideas to tackle youth unemployment.

The forum, whose theme is “Empowering Youth with Better Job Opportunities,” brought together young delegates and entrepreneurs, students and representatives of youth NGOs. Participants took part in two interactive dialogues, the first one focusing on education and training, and the second on the creation of green jobs and the conditions needed to create them.

In her address to participants, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro stressed that youth are mobilizing like never before and that their ideas can help countries achieve their sustainable development objectives.


Right of Indigenous Peoples:
A United Nations fact finder surveying conditions of Native Americans and Native Alaskans says he will recommend in his report that some of their lands are returned.

James Anaya has been meeting with tribal leaders, the administration and Senate members over 12 days to assess U.S. compliance with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He plans several suggestions in his report, likely due out this fall. Anaya says land restoration would help bring about reconciliation. He named the Black Hills of South Dakota as an example. The hills are public land but are considered sacred land by Native Americans.

Activists report ‘terrifying massacre’ in Syria

Posted on Updated on

It’s racial cleansing … They are killing people because of their sect,’ one resident of Homs claims

clip_image001

Str  /  AP

Syrian army defectors celebrate after they joined anti-government protesters in Khalidiya, Homs province, on Thursday.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports — updated 15 minutes ago

BEIRUTUpdated at 3:15 a.m. ET: Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, describes the killings of at least 35 people in the city of Homs as a “terrifying massacre.”

Videos posted online from activists showed the bodies of children wrapped in plastic bags lined up next to each other. Another video shows women and children with bloodied faces and clothes and in a house, with the narrator saying an entire family with its children had been “slaughtered.”

The videos could not be independently verified.

Read the rest of this entry »

Game Change–Five Bold Moves That Could Change World Affairs

Posted on Updated on

From reciprocal nuclear reductions to making nice with Iran, 5 bold moves that could change the world.

BY STEPHEN M. WALT | DECEMBER 13, 2011

What are some potential game-changers in contemporary international diplomacy? By “game-changer,” I mean a bold and risky initiative that fundamentally alters the strategic landscape, creating new possibilities and forcing others to rethink their own positions.

I’m thinking about the kind of bold stroke that the late Michael Handel analyzed in his book The Diplomacy of Surprise: Hitler, Nixon, Sadat. He was interested in how certain leaders launched faits accomplis or other unexpected maneuvers to break out of diplomatic gridlocks. Obvious examples are Richard Nixon’s opening to China, Anwar Sadat’s surprise announcement that he was willing to go to Jerusalem in search of peace, or (less positively) the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact that briefly united Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and helped open the door to World War II. These initiatives often involved advance planning behind the scenes, but they were unexpected at the time and had dramatic effects as soon as they were revealed.

So I’ve been trying to imagine other steps that contemporary world leaders could take that might have equally dramatic effects. This sort of initiative can be risky, of course, and there’s no guarantee that a bold gamble will succeed. With that caveat, here’s a short list of five potential “game-changers,” in no particular order.

AFP/Getty Images

The United States Takes the Military Option “off the Table” with Iran  

For at least a decade, U.S. leaders have repeatedly insisted that all options are “on the table” with Iran. In one sense this is a truism: as long as you have certain capabilities, you always have the option of using them no matter what you’ve said in the past. But constantly harping on the possibility of military action is not a good way to build trust — especially when the opponent is already deeply suspicious. It is also a very good way to convince an adversary that it ought to acquire some means of deterring a serious attack, such as acquiring a nuclear weapon, which is precisely what we don’t want Iran to do. In any event, keeping the military option “on the table” doesn’t appear to have achieved very much thus far.

So what would happen if the Obama administration announced that the military option was “off the table” completely? It could remind everyone that this step did not preclude military action to defend U.S. allies or retaliate against direct attacks on the United States or its forces, but that we were not contemplating any sort of preventive attack on Iran itself, and were going to rely on diplomacy instead. I doubt this would cause a sudden U.S.-Iranian thaw, but it might clear the air somewhat and strengthen the hand of Iranians who recognize that crossing the nuclear threshold may not be in their own interest.

I don’t for a minute think Obama & Co. will do any such thing between now and November 2012 (and probably not afterwards), and I certainly can’t imagine any of the GOP candidates (save Ron Paul) acting along these lines. But that just shows you how little imagination our foreign-policy establishment has these days.

Above, President Obama prepares to deliver a statement on the U.N. Security Council sanctioning Iran over its nuclear program in June 2010.

Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images

Hamas Revises Its Charter  

If you’ve never read the Hamas Charter, it’s worth a quick gander. You’ll find it pretty disturbing. Many experts believe that a lot of its elements (including the explicit rejection of Israel’s legitimacy, etc.) are not a true indication of Hamas’ bottom lines, but, even so, there’s a lot of offensive stuff that has nothing to do with concrete issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. Case in point: the various references to a global Zionist conspiracy (going back to the French Revolution!), along with positive references to long-discredited anti-Semitic forgeries like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Check out Articles 22, 28, and 32, for example. In addition to making it easier for opponents to justify marginalizing Hamas, such passages make the organization sound out of touch with reality. Read the rest of this entry »

Syria accepts Arab League plan ‘in principle’

Posted on Updated on

By the CNN Wire Staff
November 18, 2011 — Updated 1549 GMT (2349 HKT)
Pro-democracy protesters burn portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad outside the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on November 12.
Pro-democracy protesters burn portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad outside the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on November 12.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: At least 17 are slain in Syria on Friday
  • Syria wants amendments to the Arab League protocol on observers
  • The Hawks of Damascus, a defector group, appears in a video
  • A no-fly zone is not up for discussion, the Turkish foreign minister says

Cairo (CNN) — Syria has accepted “in principle” an Arab League plan to permit 500 observers into the country to verify whether the regime has taken measures to protect civilians, a senior Arab diplomat said Friday.

Syria has requested amendments to the protocol before signing it, said the diplomat, who has knowledge of negotiations between the Arab League and Syria.

Arab League nations voted to suspend Syria from membership. But the league, which met in Rabat, Morocco, Wednesday, gave Damascus three days to implement a protocol to allow observers to enter the nation. Read the rest of this entry »

Kenya Seeks Arab Support Against AQ Linked Somali Terrorists

Posted on Updated on

Monday, November 14, 2011

Somalia-KenyaKenya is calling for more support from Arab nations to help pursue al-Shabab terrorists who are carrying out attacks near the Kenya-Somalia border.

A top official in Kenya’s Foreign Ministry, Lindsay Kiptiness, says Kenya is trying to gain support from the Arab League and predominantly Muslim nations such as Turkey and Iran that have backed Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.

Kenya’s military says it is working with TFG forces to eliminate Somalia-based al-Shabab terrorists near the Kenyan border.

Kenya recently launched its military operation in what it deemed an act of self-defense, following several cross-border attacks blamed on Somali militants.

The military says hundreds of al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab terrorists have been killed or wounded since the military incursion began. Five Kenyan soldiers have died.

Kiptiness also says Kenya will be approaching the U.N. Security Council to seek an expansion of the African Union peacekeeping mission, or AMISOM, to cover all of Somalia, not just the capital, Mogadishu.

Kenyan officials have said they will ask AMISOM and forces from Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government to help maintain the peace in southern Somalia when Kenyan troops eventually withdrawal. VoA