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Results 1 - 10 of Headlines for United Nations
United Nations Headlines
Thursday, September 25th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
United Nations General Assembly, New York, New York -- President Bush Addresses the United Nations and Calls on World to Unite Against Terror
United Nations General Assembly
New York, New York
Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen: Twenty-four months ago -- and yesterday in the memory of America -- the center of New York City became a battlefield, and a graveyard, and the symbol of an unfinished war. Since that day, terrorists have struck in Bali, in Mombassa, in Casablanca, in Riyadh, in Jakarta, in Jerusalem -- measuring the advance of their cause in the chaos and innocent suffering they leave behind.
Last month, terrorists brought their war to the United Nations itself. The UN headquarters in Baghdad stood for order and compassion -- and for that reason, the terrorists decided it must be destroyed. Among the 22 people who were murdered was Sergio Vieira de Mello. Over the decades, this good and brave man from Brazil gave help to the afflicted in Bangladesh, Cyprus, Mozambique, Lebanon, Cambodia, Central Africa, Kosovo, and East Timor -- and was aiding the people of Iraq in their time of need. America joins you, his colleagues, in honoring the memory of Senhor Vieira de Mello, and the memory of all who died with him in the service of the United Nations.
By the victims they choose, and by the means they use, the terrorists have clarified the struggle we are in. Those who target relief workers for death have set themselves against all humanity. Those who incite murder and celebrate suicide reveal their contempt for life itself. They have no place in any religious faith, they have no claim on the world’s sympathy, and they should have no friend in this chamber. Events during the past two years have set before us the clearest of divides: Between those who seek order, and those who spread chaos; between those who work for peaceful change, and those who adopt the methods of gangsters; between those who honor the rights of man, and those who deliberately take the lives of men, and women, and children, without mercy or shame.
Between these alternatives there is no neutral ground. All governments that support terror are complicit in a war against civilization. No government should ignore the threat of terror -- because to look the other way gives terrorists the chance to regroup, and recruit, and prepare. And all nations that fight terror, as if the lives of their own people depend on it, will earn the favorable judgment of history.
The former regimes of Afghanistan and Iraq knew these alternatives, and made their choices. The Taliban was a sponsor and servant of terrorism. When confronted, that regime chose defiance -- and that regime is no more. Afghanistan’s president, who is here today, now represents a free people who are building a decent and just society -- a nation fully joined in the war against terror.
The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction. It used those weapons in acts of mass murder, and refused to account for them when confronted by the world. The Security Council was right to be alarmed. The Security Council was right to demand that Iraq destroy its illegal weapons and prove that it had done so -- The Security Council was right to vow serious consequences if Iraq refused to comply. And because there were consequences -- because a coalition of nations acted to defend the peace, and the credibility of the United Nations -- Iraq is free, and today we are joined by representatives of a liberated country.
Saddam Hussein’s monuments have been removed -- and not only his statues. The true monuments of his rule and his character -- the torture chambers, and the rape rooms, and the prison cells for innocent children -- are closed. And as we discover the killing fields and mass graves of Iraq, the true scale of Saddam’s cruelty is being revealed.
The Iraqi people are meeting hardships and challenges, like every nation that has set out on the path of democracy. Yet their future promises lives of dignity and freedom -- and that is a world away from the squalid, vicious tyranny they have known. Across Iraq, life is being improved by liberty. Across the Middle East, people are safer because an unstable aggressor has been removed from power. Across the world, nations are more secure because an ally of terror has fallen.
Our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq were supported by many governments, and America is grateful to each one. I also recognize that some of the sovereign nations of this assembly disagreed with our actions. Yet there was, and there remains, unity among us on the fundamental principles and objectives of the United Nations. We are dedicated to the defense of our collective security, and to the advance of human rights. These permanent commitments call us to great work in the world -- work we must do together. So let us move forward.
First, we must stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq as they build free and stable countries. The terrorists and their allies fear and fight this progress above all, because free people embrace hope over resentment, and choose peace over violence.
The United Nations has been a friend of the Afghan people --distributing food and medicine, helping refugees return home, advising on a new constitution, and helping to prepare the way for nationwide elections. NATO has taken over the UN-mandated security force in Kabul. American and coalition forces continue to track and defeat al-Qaida terrorists and remnants of the Taliban. Our efforts to rebuild that country go on. I have recently proposed to spend an additional 1.2 billion dollars for the Afghan reconstruction effort -- and I urge other nations to continue contributing to this important cause.
In the nation of Iraq, the United Nations is carrying out vital and effective work every day. By the end of 2004, more than 90 percent of Iraqi children under age five will have been immunized against preventable diseases such as polio, tuberculosis, and measles -- thanks to the hard work and high ideals of UNICEF. Iraq’s food distribution system is operational, delivering nearly a half million tons of food per month -- thanks to the skill and expertise of the World Food Program.
Our international coalition in Iraq is meeting its responsibilities. We are conducting precision raids against terrorists and holdouts of the former regime. These killers are at war with the Iraqi people -- they have made Iraq the central front in the war on terror -- and they will be defeated. Our coalition has made sure that Iraq’s former dictator will never again use weapons of mass destruction. We are now interviewing Iraqi citizens and analyzing records of the old regime, to reveal the full extent of its weapons programs and long campaign of deception. We are training Iraqi police, border guards, and a new army, so that the Iraqi people can assume full responsibility for their own security.
At the same time, our coalition is helping to improve the daily lives of the Iraqi people. The old regime built palaces while letting schools decay -- so we are rebuilding more than a thousand schools. The old regime starved hospitals of resources -- so we have helped to supply and reopen hospitals across Iraq. The old regime built up armies and weapons, while allowing the nation’s infrastructure to crumble -- so we are rehabilitating power plants, water and sanitation facilities, bridges, and airports. I have proposed to Congress that the United States provide additional funding for our work in Iraq -- the greatest financial commitment of its kind since the Marshall Plan. Having helped to liberate Iraq, we will honor our pledges to Iraq -- and by helping the Iraqi people build a stable and peaceful country, we will make our own countries more secure.
The primary goal of our coalition in Iraq is self-government for the people of Iraq, reached by orderly and democratic means. This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis -- neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties. And the United Nations can contribute greatly to the cause of Iraqi self-government. America is working with friends and allies on a new Security Council resolution, which will expand the UN’s role in Iraq. As in the aftermath of other conflicts, the United Nations should assist in developing a constitution, training civil servants, and conducting free and fair elections. Iraq now has a Governing Council -- the first truly representative institution in that country. Iraq’s new leaders are showing the openness and tolerance that democracy requires -- and also the courage. Yet every young democracy needs the help of friends. Now the nation of Iraq needs and deserves our aid -- and all nations of good will should step forward and provide that support.
The success of a free Iraq will be watched and noted throughout the region. Millions will see that freedom, equality, and material progress are possible at the heart of the Middle East. Leaders in the region will face the clearest evidence that free institutions and open societies are the only path to long-term national success and dignity. And a transformed Middle East would benefit the entire world, by undermining the ideologies that export violence to other lands.
Iraq as a dictatorship had great power to destabilize the Middle East ... Iraq as a democracy will have great power to inspire the Middle East. The advance of democratic institutions in Iraq is setting an example that others, including the Palestinian people, would be wise to follow. The Palestinian cause is betrayed by leaders who cling to power by feeding old hatreds, and destroying the good work of others. The Palestinian people deserve their own state -- committed to reform, to fighting terror, and to building peace. All parties in the Middle East must meet their responsibilities, and carry out the commitments they made at Aqaba. Israel must work to create the conditions that will allow a peaceful Palestinian state to emerge. Arab nations must cut off funding and other support for terrorist organizations. America will work with every nation in the region that acts boldly for the sake of peace.
A second challenge we must confront together is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Outlaw regimes that possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons -- and the means to deliver them -- would be able to use blackmail and create chaos in entire regions. These weapons could be used by terrorists to bring sudden disaster and suffering on a scale we can scarcely imagine. The deadly combination of outlaw regimes, terror networks, and weapons of mass murder is a peril that cannot be ignored or wished away. If such a danger is allowed to fully materialize, all words, all protests, will come too late. Nations of the world must have the wisdom and the will to stop grave threats before they arrive.
One crucial step is to secure the most dangerous materials at their source. For more than a decade, the United States has worked with Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union to dismantle, destroy, or secure weapons and dangerous materials left over from another era. Last year in Canada, the G-8 nations agreed to provide up to 20 billion dollars -- half of it from the United States -- to fight this proliferation risk over the next ten years. Since then, six additional countries have joined the effort. More are needed, and I urge other nations to help us meet this danger.
We are also improving our capability to interdict lethal materials in transit. Through our Proliferation Security Initiative, eleven nations are preparing to search planes, ships, trains, and trucks carrying suspect cargo, and to seize weapons or missile shipments that raise proliferation concerns. These nations have agreed on a set of interdiction principles, consistent with current legal authorities. And we are working to expand the Proliferation Security Initiative to other countries. We are determined to keep the world’s most destructive weapons away from all our shores, and out of the hands of our common enemies.
Because proliferators will use any route or channel that is open to them, we need the broadest possible cooperation to stop them. Today I ask the UN Security Council to adopt a new anti-proliferation resolution. This resolution should call on all members of the UN to criminalize the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; to enact strict export controls consistent with international standards; and to secure any and all sensitive materials within their own borders. The United States stands ready to help any nation draft these new laws, and to assist in their enforcement.
A third challenge we share is a challenge to our conscience. We must act decisively to meet the humanitarian crises of our time. The United States has begun to carry out the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, aimed at preventing AIDS on a massive scale, and treating millions who have the disease already. We have pledged 15 billion dollars over five years to fight AIDS around the world. My country is acting to save lives from famine as well. We are providing more than 1.4 billion dollars in global emergency food aid, and I have asked the United States Congress for 200 million dollars for a new famine fund, so we can act quickly when the first signs of famine appear. Every nation on every continent should generously add their resources to the fight against disease and desperate hunger.
There is another humanitarian crisis, spreading and yet hidden from view. Each year, an estimated eight to nine hundred thousand human beings are bought, sold, or forced across the world’s borders. Among them are hundreds of thousands of teenage girls, and others as young as five, who fall victim to the sex trade. This commerce in human life generates billions of dollars each year ? much of which is used to finance organized crime.
There is a special evil in the abuse and exploitation of the most innocent and vulnerable. The victims of the sex trade see little of life before they see the very worst of life -- an underworld of brutality and lonely fear. Those who create these victims, and profit from their suffering, must be severely punished. Those who patronize this industry debase themselves and deepen the misery of others. And governments that tolerate this trade are tolerating a form of slavery.
This problem has appeared in my own country, and we are working to stop it. The PROTECT Act, which I signed into law this year, makes it a crime for any person to enter the United States, or for any citizen to travel abroad, for the purpose of sex tourism involving children. The Department of Justice is actively investigating sex tour operators and patrons, who can face up to 30 years in prison. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the United States is using sanctions against governments to discourage human trafficking.
The victims of this industry also need help from other members of the United Nations. And this begins with clear standards and the certainty of punishment under the laws of every country. Today, some nations make it a crime to sexually abuse children abroad. Such conduct should be a crime in all nations. Governments should inform travelers of the harm this industry does, and the severe punishments that will fall on its patrons. The American government is committing 50 million dollars to support the good work of organizations that are rescuing women and children from exploitation, and giving them shelter, medical treatment, and the hope of a new life. I urge other governments to do their part.
We must show new energy in fighting back an old evil. Nearly two centuries after the abolition of the Transatlantic slave trade ... and more than a century after slavery was officially ended in its last strongholds ... the trade in human beings for any purpose must not be allowed to thrive in our time.
All the challenges I have spoken of this morning require urgent attention and moral clarity. Helping Afghanistan and Iraq to succeed as free nations in a transformed region -- cutting off the avenues of proliferation -- abolishing modern forms of slavery -- these are the kinds of great tasks for which the United Nations was founded. In each case, careful discussion is needed -- and also decisive action. Our good intentions will be credited only if we achieve good outcomes. As an original signer of the UN Charter, the United States of America is committed to the United Nations. And we show that commitment by working to fulfill the UN’s stated purposes, and give meaning to its ideals.
The founding documents of the United Nations and the founding documents of America stand in the same tradition. Both assert that human beings should never be reduced to objects of power or commerce, because their dignity is inherent. Both recognize a moral law that stands above men and nations -- which must be defended and enforced by men and nations. And both point the way to peace -- the peace that comes when all are free. We secure that peace with our courage, and we must show that courage together.
Tuesday, July 29th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
By Jeremy Lovell - Reuters Online Service -- LONDON (Reuters) - About 1.2 million children are trafficked each year for $10 billion, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a report to be published on Wednesday.
"Trafficking is a truly global problem, affecting all countries everywhere," said the report, titled End Child Exploitation: Stop The Traffic.
The issue hit the headlines in Britain on Tuesday as police arrested 21 people in connection with the ritual murder of a Nigerian child whose headless and limbless torso was found floating in the river Thames two years ago.
The boy, named Adam by police for lack of any identification, is believed to have been trafficked into Britain.
The report said that while Europe was a major market for the trade in children, with West Africa and Eastern Europe being the major suppliers, there was also a thriving business within the supplier regions and across Asia.
It said in Europe 500,000 women and young girls were trafficked each year from all over the world, mostly from former Soviet nations.
The price for a woman at the start of the trail in one Romanian town was put as low as 30 pounds ($49).
It said some 200,000 children were also trafficked each year in Western Africa, either to enter the export trade to Europe or to be sold into slavery as domestic workers.
Southeast Asia too accounts for one-third of the domestic and international trade in women and children, the report added.
It noted that there had been a 20 percent increase in child prostitutes in Thailand in the past three years, and 15 percent of the girls trafficked from South Vietnam were under 15 years old.
In China 250,000 women and children were victims of trafficking, the report said.
The trade was not limited to females. Thousands of boys as young as five were traded from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates each year to work as camel jockeys, it said.
Monday, June 16th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
If you listened to the chattering class, you might be tempted to think Arabs hate the United States of America. Watching Al-Jazeera, you might think Arabs are angry that Americans dared send our military troops to violate their sacred land. If you listen to the network talking heads and newspaper editors around the nation, you might be tempted to believe Arabs prefer their 14th Century existence, and want nothing to do with democratic ideals that are not in synch with their religious dogma. You would be wrong.
Today, there is a growing movement not only demanding an Arabian cultural rennaissance, but pointing out the value of outside forces, notably the United States, to help sweep away the bloody, nationalist and religious dictators who dominate the Middle East. Has this thought gurgled up from Neocon thinktanks? Or from crazed chat rooms at Free Republic? Hardly. And this movement certainly isn’t sprouting from those who pontificate from the safety of a New York newsroom, the Capital steps or a comfy chaise in a suburban Philly home office, who visit the Middle East from time-to-time, then return like a pompous messiah, expecting their elitist friends and the New York Times to bless them with adulation and credibility. No, these intellectuals hail from Palestine, Lebanon, Tunisia, Quatar and Egypt. They live the Middle East 24/7/365. When they write this stuff, they face chopped hands and death squads. It’s the real thing. And their view is quite different. Enlightened, you might say. And it is exclusively Arab.
In the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Ayyam, columnist Taufiq Abu Bakr notes, "Although no one likes to see foreign soldiers in his country, the sons of Uday and Qusay would still be in power into the next century. The idea of ’international humanitarian intervention’ must be developedâ€¦to rescue peoples who cannot, on their own, escape the grip of savage rulers who suppress any opposing voiceâ€¦ because these savage rulers suppress any voice of opposition." What does the "Arab Street" say about such heresy? "An opinion poll by Faisal Al-Qassem on his show on Al-Jazeera television [showed] 80% said they preferred [Western] imperialism to nationalist Arab regimes."
Dean of the Faculty of Shar’iah (Islamic Law) at Qatar University Sheikh ’Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, in the Saudi English daily Arab News tells this story. The musings of a simple Iraqi from a liberated area caught my attention. He said: ’The Arabs left us and did not liberate us. Why are they attacking the coalition which wants to liberate us?’ Why is this simple fact not realized by our men of culture, our intellectuals, our men of the media and our religious leaders, the men who call for participation in ’Jihad?"’
To answer this simple question, let’s make a very long story all too short, Arab culture led the world in 800 A.D., but was swept under the Ottoman Empire for over a thousand years. Arabs had the great misfortune of liberating themselves just in time to become carved up into colonialist pieces after WWI and WWII. Without freedom to blossom, only two things simmered under the thousand-year-yoke of alien domination: Islam and nationalism. When freedom arrived towards the end of the Twentieth Century, these seemingly disparate twin pillars were sucked into the leadership vacuum. Bakr notes, "In their attempt to skip over gradual [development, these nationalists] stopped the natural development of their Arab societies. [This movement] was buried while in its cradle in favor of revolutionary ideas, which could not possibility come to fruition." Fueled by emotion and petrodollars, the darkest aspects of hatred sprang forth, creating the strange, sick alliance of religious fundamentalism and agnostic totalitarians. In this environment, modern Arab culture was born.
Bakr continues, "Over many decades, the trends of nationalism, socialism, and Islam have not led to democracy, freedom, or social justice in the Arab World." Actually, the same can be said for the rest of the world. Theocracies are always hopelessly backward, seeking the comfort of God by fearfully excluding everything else. Socialism is merely Communism’s baby brother, and ruins a nation in direct proportion to its embrace. Nationalism is behind almost every war in recorded history. And of course, most western European election campaigns.
But from stoning women or cutting hands off criminals, the sick condition of Arabic culture has been well documented. The Lebanese daily Al-Nahar columnist Rajah Al-Khuri admits "contemporary Arabism includes tremendous measures of hatred and barbarism." That’s a bullseye. But since the American forces liberated Iraq, the sight of Iraqis combing through mass graves looking for slaughtered relatives has begun to turn heads in the Arab world. Al-Khuri continues, "the graves contained bullet-riddled skulls, bodies wrapped in rags" Ropes still tied a mother’s bones to her infant’s, and a father’s to his son. Columnist Ureib Al-Rintawi, in the Jordanian daily Al-Dustour, wrote, "the dictatorship of the Iraqi Ba’ath dictatorship reached the level of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia."
Now, the role of Arab media is being questioned. Al-Ansari asks, "Why did the Arab Media consent to align itself with the Iraqi regime? The answer was stated by the director of one of the satellite channels: ’It is competition. Either we win the viewers or others win them.’ Thus he summarized the Arab media. Their aim is to win the street at any price by fanning the flames of its emotions. "The Arab media was characterized by selectivity. Their biased point of view was imposed on listeners." That is hardly an exclusive phenomenon of the Arab media.
Now that the facts are known, indignant questions are being imposed upon the Arab street. Al-Rintawi says, "So far, no one heard a single word, not an apology, not an announcement to betray an ounce of shame and disgrace, in light of the daily horrific ignominy done to the image of the Arabs by Saddam Hussein’s." Columnist Rajah Al-Khuri wrote in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, "What is required is an Arab apology to the world for the Saddamic crime, an apology to the dead in their mass grave an apology to the slaughtered Iraqi people, after there were among us those who tried to prolong this slaughter by defending Saddam, claiming that they were protecting the Iraqi people!" Good luck, Mr. Rintawi. Cheerleaders boast of their enthusiasm, but rarely repent for their team’s performance.
Even the long accepted practice of suicidal"martyrdom" is being questioned. Ahmad Shawqi ’Iffat, in the Egyptian opposition daily Al-Wafd sarcastically wonders, "Oh, geniuses of bygone days, if we want to send a message that the Palestinian people is alive, can’t we find a way other than martyrdom operations, that have caused us all this unbearable damage? Furthermore, I think “and there are many others like me who aren’t [saying] “that these are not martyrdom operations." At some point, the fallacy of futility has to dawn upon the people.
Then, is Arab culture approaching a crossroads? "We now face a schism in Arab culture columnist Hazem Saghiya wrote in the Arabic-language London daily Al-Hayat, between those who want to eliminate tyrannical dictators, and "Those who want to oppose the U.S. in obliviousness" Funny, Mr. Saghiya. That’s hardly an exclusively Arabic phenomenon either.
And so, let’s applaud the age of Arab Rennaissance, ushered in by these wise Arab thinkers. Bakr states, "We are in need of a revival of enlightenment, away from the revolutionary [ideas] "We will not enter the stage of revival and enlightenment as long as we do not shake up the conventions and as long as we do not thoroughly investigate our convictions. This was the way towards the Rennaissance in Europe, and we have no other." Not that Europe is a shining example of intellectual brilliance, but he’s on the right track.
So there you have it. The real Arab intellectuals are rising up, believing it is time to face the facts, rethink its culture and end the age of self-deceit. As the Arab world absorbs the rude revelations of Saddam Hussein’s vicious crimes, it’s harder and harder to ignore the mass graves, the gassed children, the torture chambers, their biased media and the benevolence of the United States in liberating grateful Iraqis. The new Arab thinkers recognize that they were deceived, at the cost of millions of innocent brothers and sisters. They seek a world in which they can begin an Arabian rennaissance, free from religious and nationalist dictators. And they would appreciate the United States if we helped remove the tyrannical obstacles.
Now, we shall see if this enlightenment can extend to the rest of the world, where elite "thinkers" are more concerned with self-serving political gamesmanship, and have yet to experience the same enlightenment.
Tom Adkins is the publisher of CommonConservative.com
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2003
: RCN Administrator
By David Usborne in New York - Independent (UK) -- For the first time since the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, confronted the Americans openly yesterday, accusing the Bush administration of lacking credibility in its efforts to hunt down Iraq's banned weapons.
Mr Blix, 74, derided by Washington for his failure to find the "smoking gun" that would have convinced the UN to give legal backing to the war, also accused Washington and Britain of deliberately undermining his efforts before the war.
He warned the Security Council that only UN inspectors, and not the teams being assembled by America, would be able to provide an objective assessment of any materials that might be found in Iraq.
Mr Blix spoke out as the diplomatic blood-letting seen in the run-up to the conflict risked resurfacing with the first full discussion by the Council on the next steps in Iraq.
The Council's members sparred openly over the role of the UN in identifying weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And Mr Blix, who could now be the biggest obstacle to the removal of sanctions, which George Bush is seeking, rubbed salt in the wounds. London and
Washington had built the case for invading Iraq on "very, very shaky" evidence, he said. He referred to documents alleging that Iraq had imported uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger that he later revealed to have been faked.
"I think it's been one of the disturbing elements that so much of the intelligence on which the capitals built their case seemed to have been shaky," he said, hinting that Britain the US might have allowed the information to surface to undermine inspections.
Mr Blix would not rule out that evidence of banned weapons might yet be uncovered. But he added that it was "conspicuous that so far [US inspectors] have not stumbled upon anything evident". He cautioned the Americans to "examine everything critically", noting that some Iraqis might be motivated to claim more than they knew.
Even in Washington, officials spoke of fears that inspectors deployed by the US might never find evidence of weapons of mass destruction that constituted the main political justification for invading Iraq. US officials are worrying out loud that Iraqi agents might
have been able to destroy incriminating materials in the days of chaos that followed the taking of Baghdad. Senior officials believe the US military might have contributed to the difficulties by failing to secure potential weapons or intelligence sites during the frenzied looting.
The new standoff in the Security Council is about whether UN inspectors, told to pack their bags and leave Iraq 24 hours before the first bombs fell on Baghdad, should be sent back in to identify any weapons finds now being made. The US, determined to keep the anti-war camp out of the decisions on Iraq's future, stands alone in resisting calls from other members, notably Russia, to send UN inspectors back.
The role of Mr Blix is directly linked to the issue of when UN sanctions on Iraq can be lifted. President Bush asked the UN last week to end the sanctions. But Russia has argued strongly that under UN resolutions, sanctions can only be lifted once Iraq is certified as weapon-free and that that can only be completed by Mr Blix.
Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said yesterday: "We are looking forward, not backward. Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, and we will need to reassess the framework design to disarm the regime given the new facts on the ground." In a sideswipe at Mr Blix he said: "I think it's unfortunate if Hans Blix would in any way criticize the US at this juncture. The US is working with Iraqis to build a new country for them."
Peter King, a Republican congressman, flatly dismissed Mr Blix's claims, accusing him of "manipulating evidence".
John Negroponte, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said: "For the time being, and for the foreseeable future, we visualize that [inspections] as being a coalition activity," he said. "The coalition has assumed responsibility for disarming of Iraq."
This puts the US directly at odds with the remaining members of the Security Council. Even Britain is making behind-the-scenes efforts to argue the case for giving Mr Blix a role in looking for weapons and certifying that they have been eradicated or do not exist. France took other members by surprise by asking for an immediate suspension of UN sanctions on Iraq. That move may be designed to mend fences with Washington, which has also called for an end to the sanctions. But France is also insisting on the return of UN inspectors.
Mr Blix, who is said to be livid that the US is assembling its own inspection teams, said: "We may not be the only ones in the world who have credibility, but I do think we have credibility for being objective and independent."
Thursday, March 27th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
Of course there can be a United Nations without the United States. The organization could move its headquarters to Geneva, for instance, if for some reason the US decide tomorrow to leave the UN.
Remember that the League of Nations, which was the predecessor of the UN functioned without US membership. The fact is that no state benefits more from its UN membership, with regard to the promotion of its national interest around the globe than the United States. That is why despite all of the long-running ideological battle waged by right-wing political extremists and their conservative cohorts against the UN in the US political arena, there has been no serious consideration by the United States to leave the United Nations.
Dallas, Texas, USA.
Friday, March 7th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
Blix welcomes accelerated cooperation by Iraq, but says unresolved issues remain
7 March – Top United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix told the Security Council today that over the past month Iraq has displayed “active” or even “proactive” cooperation, which has allowed the inspection process to make significant progress, although a number of key disarmament tasks remained to be resolved.
|Hans Blix addressing the Security Council|
Addressing a ministerial-level meeting of the Council, Mr. Blix cited in particular Baghdad’s move to begin UN-supervised destruction of the Al Samoud 2 missiles, which had been declared by Iraq last year, but were later found to be outside the permissible range by UN experts.
“The destruction undertaken constitutes a substantial measure of disarmament – indeed the first since the middle of the 1990’s,” Mr. Blix said. “We are not watching the breaking of toothpicks. Lethal weapons are being destroyed.”
IAEA sees progress in identifying Iraq’s nuclear capabilities, Security Council told
7 March – Monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have made important progress over the last three months in identifying what nuclear-related capabilities remain in Iraq, the head of the Agency told the Security Council today, noting that the last three weeks in particular have seen Baghdad be more forthcoming it its cooperation with the Agency.
|Mohamed ElBaradei briefs Security Council|
“After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons programme in Iraq,” IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei said at a high-level meeting of the Council attended by 11 Foreign Ministers
War in Iraq not inevitable but humanitarian preparedness crucial – UN agency
7 March – The head of the United Nations refugee agency has wrapped up his trip to Iran, stressing that while a war against Iraq is not inevitable, it is important that governments and the humanitarian community work to be prepared for the possibility, an agency spokesman said today.
|UNHCR Ruud Lubbers (c) in Darshia, Iran|
Yesterday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers visited possible new campsites for Iraqis at Yazde-no and Darshia, in the west of Iran, and noted that the Government has been exemplary in its efforts to handle a possible Iraqi influx, spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva.
The High Commissioner saw land being cleared for camps, and roads and other facilities being prepared. Iranian officials told Mr. Lubbers that they expect to have three sites ready in a short time. In all, seven sites are currently under preparation, out of 10 planned and each is designed to accommodate about 20,000 people, according to Mr. Redmond.
Iran has a long record of hosting Iraqi refugees and currently shelters more than 202,000 – half the world's recognized Iraqi refugee population. Mr. Redmond said the UN agency plans to support the Iranian Government and the Iranian Red Crescent in their humanitarian work, and is currently shipping relief items to Ahwaz as part of that effort.
During his two-day mission in Iran, Mr. Lubbers met President Mohammed Khatami, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrzai and Interior Minister Abdolvahed Musavi-Lari, as well as senior provincial and Red Crescent officials.
In addition to Iran, Mr. Lubbers' 10-day trip to the region – his fourth since taking office in early 2001 – included visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Friday, March 7th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
7 March – The United Nations moved a step closer today to handing over substantial responsibilities for autonomy in Kosovo to the local government with the establishment of a transfer council.
|Michael Steiner (r) with PM Bajram Rexhepi|
The top UN official in Kosovo, Michael Steiner, said the council would be a vehicle for the phased transfer throughout the year of substantial responsibilities from the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to the Institutions of Provisional Self Government.
“UNMIK is moving to strengthen Kosovo institutions,” Mr. Steiner, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative, said at a joint press conference in Pristina with Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi. “UNMIK and the Government have agreed: substantial responsibilities will be transferred in a phased process throughout this year.”
The Transfer Council, co-chaired by Mr. Steiner and Mr. Rexhepi, will decide upon the means and timetable to implement, coordinate, oversee and review the transfer process and will hold its first meeting on 26 March.
The establishment of the council is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244 and UNMIK’s mandate to promote the establishment, pending a final settlement, of substantial autonomy and self-government in Kosovo, to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo.
Mr. Steiner noted the new responsibilities would also raise the stakes. “Kosovo’s institutions will have greater powers and face greater sanctions if they abuse those powers,” he said. “I’m very happy today because we created the Council, and the more authorities you have, the more responsibilities you bear. I hope we are on the path to be more efficient, in the interest of all Kosovo citizens.”
UNMIK retains final authority as set out in resolution1244 and will increase its focus on its core responsibilities, in particular the protection of minority rights, the rule of law and security and external relations. UNMIK will get tougher on violations of minority rights, Mr. Steiner said.
Thursday, March 6th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
6 March – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the world to unite to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists.
|Kofi Annan and CTC Chairman Greenstock|
“Although recent terrorist acts have been massive in their scale, future attacks could make them pale in comparison, particularly if terrorists were to acquire lethal chemical, biological or nuclear weapons,” Mr. Annan told a special one-day meeting of the UN Security Council’s Counter-terrorism Committee (CTC) attended by some 60 international, regional and sub-regional organizations.
“Never has it been more important to strengthen the multilateral regimes that have been developed to prevent the proliferation of such weapons,” he said. “For the fight against terrorism to be effective, it is essential that we all work together to ensure that universal principles prevail over lawlessness. Cooperation among international, regional and sub-regional organizations is thus essential.”
The Secretary-General also warned against sacrificing human rights in the fight against terrorism. “Our response to terrorism, as well as our efforts to thwart it and prevent it should uphold human rights that terrorists would aim to destroy,” he said. “Respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are essential tools in the effort to combat terrorism – not privileges to be sacrificed at a time of tension.”
Speaking at the outset of the meeting, the CTC Chairman, Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom, said it was a “historic day” because it was the first time that a huge range of professionals, Member States and practitioners in the effort against terrorism had been brought together. “We all know that we cannot protect ourselves unilaterally,” he said. “We’re all threatened directly or indirectly. We can’t meet our obligations effectively if we don’t meet them willingly and if we don’t meet them collectively.”
Organizations invited to the meeting include the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the League of Arab States, the European Union (EU), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Interpol.
The CTC, entrusted with monitoring all areas covered by the Council's counter-terrorism resolution 1373 adopted in the wake of the 11 September attacks, has divided the day-long programme into three sessions: on global standards on counter-terrorism, the role of regional and sub-regional organizations in strengthening global counter-terrorism capacity, and the role of international and regional organizations on assistance.
Tuesday, February 25th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
The sad truth about the United Nations is that is has become less of a body where nations seek common ground, and more of a weird and wacky center, where nations engage in virulent backdoor politics. My notion of backdoor politics simply means doing what you can’t do upfront, through the backdoor; using shenanigans to accomplish goals that you could never hope to accomplish directly and forthrightly. The United Nations was born in October 1944, ostensibly to preserve peace after the second world war, and to end the cycle of War, hate and poverty that had decimated the 20th Century in the most disastrous fashion, culminating in 55 million deaths from the second world war. A noble goal that was clearly promoted by acts like the proclamation of the Statehood of Israel, after 2000 years of homelessness of the Jewish people, the UN participation in
halting the North Korean/Chinese offensive against South Korea in the 50’s, and of course the multitude of U.N. agencies over the world that have provided food, shelter, clothing and general support for suffering people in war torn regions all over the world.
Unfortunately, the great legacy of the U.N. has been hijacked in recent years by venal nations who have consistently used this once great body, for their private politics. The sad truth is that however much we may try to elevate the U.N. to mythic, perfect status, it is no more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps it once was, but no longer. Now, countries with common interests unite on a regular basis to attack other nations in insidious ways that they could never accomplish without the forum of the United Nations. The United Nations has become a giant, faceless entity that succumbs regularly to questionable tactics used by venal cronies. How else can one explain the continuous anti-Israeli resolutions that have emanated from that body over the years, without ANY corresponding resolutions against terrorism? Are the Israeli deaths from deliberate terrorist
efforts to kill women and children, any less important from the Palestinian deaths that result from Israeli Military action?
Well the United Nations appears to believe so, because despite the over 550 Israelis that have died since 2000 from direct terrorism (including over 130 Israeli children and over 160 women) the United Nations has never passed any resolution against such violence, but has concentrated on passing an average of 20 anti Israeli resolutions a year, based on Israeli military action. This is despite that fact that of the over1500 Palestinians killed since 2000, over 50% of them have been active combatants, while on the Israeli side, over 80% of them have been noncombatants. Also, over 190 of the Palestinians killed during this period have not killed by the Israelis, but by other Palestinians, after being accused as Collaborators. Nonetheless, the United Nations has shown no interest whatsoever in holding the Palestinian side accountable for their atrocities, and
the conventional Press, in particular CNN and BBC reporters, have shown a marked desire to accentuate ONLY Israeli culpabil ity in deaths. To date, the United Nations has passed a cumulative total of over 55,000 resolutions against Israel, while passing less than 8,000 for Israel. Why is the United Nations’ Policy so skewered in this area? Simply put, because of backdoor politics. There are more third world nations, Muslim nations and European nations who simply toe the Palestinian line, and they use the United Nations as a tool for imposing their political interests on whoever they perceive to be their political foes. They cannot accomplish this individually on the world stage, through their economic or military clout, so they simply use the willing United Nations as their forum. In the United Nations countries like Libya that support terrorism and consistently abuse the human rights of their own citizens, are elected as the chair to the Human rights Commission and countries like Syria that support, sustain and finance terrorism are elected to the United Nations Security Council. Does a lot for credibility doesn’t it?
In a another matter, France, a country that has lost virtually every war it has ever engaged in, gets a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (immediately after losing the war to the Germans in a period of 8 days, after the Germans attacked Paris), and uses that seat to play populist politics on a critical issue like Iraq. Just like in the 1930’s, they get to sit back and drink wine, while a menace grows, at the same time preventing any others from taking decisive action, through the forum of the United Nations, once again. Russia gets a chance to play obstructionist politics, even though they still haven’t secured their own lands in Chechnya, from terrorists, and are not in a
position to start or stop an armed conflict within the Middle East. China gets the inspiration and the forum to give meaningless and abstract speeches on the merits of solving the Iraq problem without war, even though they would probably look the other way if any military action began in the Middle East. That’s what the forum of the United Nations provides-endless, meaningless verbalizing, and a chance to stick your finger in the eye of someone you couldn’t otherwise challenge. That is not always a bad thing, because it gives the weak a forum to speak with the strong, but it becomes a bad thing, when it gives the numerous, a forum to frustrate and neutralize the strong. The policy of ‘might is right’, certainly IS NOT what is being propounded here, but the policy of ‘number is right’ is certainly what the United Nations seems to be about. Whether the United States position on Iraq is right or is wrong, has nothing to do with the inappropriateness of the United Nations Security Council being used as a forum for gallic popularity and rowdy public clapping, as a means to intimidate and neutralize American/British resolve. Nonetheless, these days, sadly, that appears to be all that the United Nations is about,
because it is no less venal than its members. And that is why it grows more irrelevant by the day.
Tuesday, February 18th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
With hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating all over the world, against war with Iraq, it is important to remember that the countries that spawn those demonstrators, are populated by millions of people, not hundreds of thousands.
The newspapers continue to splatter images of rock-solid opposition to war everywhere, but then it is the nature of opposition, to be visible. People who support the stand against Iraq are less likely to demonstrate, because they are internally content, or internally resolved as to what has to be done. It is the same in politics. People who support a government are not likely to march to show their support. They’ll stay quietly at home, and remain silently resolute, because as the saying goes, ‘if it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it.’ However, their satisfied or resolute silence, should not be taken as indecision or similar opposition. In this case, though, that seems to be exactly what is happening. Polls upon polls, newspapers upon newspapers, pundits upon pundits comment upon just how many people oppose a war in Iraq. It would be disingenuous to pretend to know whether or not, there is a silent majority that supports the military option against Iraq, but it is equally disingenuous to pretend that the hordes of demonstrators shouting leftist, pro-islamic, pro-Saddam and pro-pacifist slogans, represent the prevailing public opinion in the world. Clearly, there are countries like France where the U.S. is seen as more of an enemy, than the murderous regime in Iraq, but there is no evidence that the bulk of other national populations feed into the same skewered mentality. Part of the reason why the polls show such lack of support for a tough position against Iraq, is simply that those people who are strongly against the military option, feel strongly enough about it to go onto the streets and show their opposition, while those people who do not oppose the military option, do not support it STRONGLY enough to go out onto the streets and show their support, or lack of opposition. It’s a fine analogy, but an example of this abides within the realm of U.S. politics-specifically the issue of gun control. The gun control advocates within the U.S. probably outnumber those who feel very passionately about their gun rights, yet while the gun control advocates will usually not vote on this issue ALONE, the gun rights advocates, will do precisely that, and so even though they are not in a majority, their passion makes up for their smaller number.
That is precisely the case, as far as Iraq goes. There is clearly a divergence of opinion as far as what course of action to take, but those who have a hard-line opposition to any sort of war in the gulf, would probably constitute a distinct minority. However, they are also the noisiest, most self-centered, most aggressive, most visible and conspicuous group of advocates, and so their actual number is vastly over-estimated.
The silent majority understands that whether or not there is a war in Iraq, there will be terrorism in today’s world, because terrorists simply look for enemies to hate and attack. September 11 occurred before there was any major stand taken against Iraq, or any other potential rallying points. If there wasn’t the issue of Iraq, there would still be excuses for terrorism, because that is the nature of terrorism-hate, hate and more hate. And that hate translates into a tolerance for violence and murder, in the name of causes. Those who advocate tolerance and eternal patience for prevaricating butchers like Saddam, simply buy into the game of pacifying, which never works. There will ALWAYS be an excuse for terrorism, and it is not responsible to try to dictate foreign or military policy, based on fear of terrorism. You don’t capitulate to a menace, and concede more ground to it. You face up to it, confront it, and refuse to bow to it.
The demonstrators all around the world, insist that they are not pro-Saddam or Anti-American. They are simply anti-war, and anti-Bush. Aside, from the circularity of claiming not to be anti-America, but to be anti-the leader of America, their assertion is simply not backed up by the facts. There are effigies of George W. Bush AND the American flag, burning, not just in Arab countries, but in European countries, and the words coming from the rabble-rousers are tinged with virulent anti-American rhetoric, and a complete intolerance for any sort of American leadership, while also sporting a COMPLETE AND TOTAL disinterest in addressing the issues that led to the present military situation. The demonstrators are not bothered by Saddam’s butchery and malicious military record and intent, but they are totally outraged by anyone daring to stand up to the butcher of Baghdad. They are outraged by the thought of the Iraqis who will die in a war, but they are not outraged by those who are tortured to death daily by Saddam, or those who have been gassed and butchered by the dictator. They insist that the war is all about America obtaining Iraq oil, but fail to mention that Iraq got into this position because it invaded Kuwait in August 1990 to plunder it for its oil and money, and refused to withdraw after being continuously told to do so the United Nations. They are outraged by the Iraqis who have died from sanctions against Iraq, but make no mention of the fact that Saddam has been responsible for a large portion of those deaths, by sending hundreds of thousands of critical dollars to the families of suicide bombers, while Iraqis are starving to death. So it’s the same old story. It’s all America, the big bad America, pounding away at the innocent, sweet, harmless choir boy and choir regime in Iraq.
The only present thing that is positive, is the fact that while these extremists pour into the streets in their churlish frenzy of pacifism, those who know what Saddam is all about, continue to prepare for what has to be done. They know that leadership is not conducted by taking polls for popularity of your position. Leadership is conducted by making the hard decisions you were elected to make, not just in time of peace and prosperity, but ESPECIALLY in the times of fear and frenzy. Winston Churchill lost his job after his brilliant and successful efforts of the second world war. Likewise, although my suspicion is that the wild demonstrators are a lot less powerful at the ballot box, it is a possibility that a lot of politicians MIGHT lose their jobs, over the Iraq imbroglio. But whatever the case, their decisions and policies should be informed by sound, rational, pragmatic principles, and not by hordes of churlish extremists all over the streets of European capitals, making more noise than most people care to hear.