The Global Citizen: peacekeeping
The resolution approved by the UN Security Council on Wednesday to send peacekeepers to Darfur has been hailed as an extremely positive step forward for the strife-ridden region of western Sudan. This resolution seeks to bolster the current African Union (AU) mission in the region but also creates a hybrid force, adding up to 26,000 UN peacekeepers to the 7,000 strong AU contingent.
The U.S. has played a formative role in starting the United Nations, and it is a crucial tool for diplomacy and security. However, a small, but vocal, minority has been clamoring to withdraw from the U.N. and cut funding from it due to recent scandals and negative publicity. I'm not saying that the United Nations is perfect, but despite its problems, it is still the most visionary and effective institution for promoting peace and human rights, while running on a budget smaller than the annual budget of a fire department in Tokyo .
I am writing from the newly painted intern office to say that we are at it again. For the past week we have been bugging Congressional staffers incessantly during appropriations week (of all times!) to get them to sponsor H.Res.213, which supports the creation of the U.N. Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS).
To build upon what my colleague Raj wrote earlier on the Bush Administration's 'movement' on the ICC, yesterday revealed a move by the Sudanese government that looks like a step forward but doesn't go anywhere at all.? Am I surprised? Not really.
Sudan announced (for what seems like the hundredth time) that they accept an African Union - United Nations joint proposal for a hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur. Sudan initially agreed to the force "in principle" at a November 2006 meeting in Addis Ababa with the African Union, then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, members of the U.N. Security Council, and the Sudanese government. Since then, they have issued several public statements accepting various packages of a three-phase deployment, with the most recent announcement in April.
Support for a permanent United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS) is increasing. 37 non-profit groups, including the United Nations Association USA, Refugees International, the International Crisis Group, faith-based organizations, and many others, have sent a letter to members of Congress urging their support of H. RES. 213, U.S. legislation that calls for the creation of a U.N. Emergency Peace Service.
I'd like to start a conversation about a few pieces of "old business" that many had hoped the Democratic leadership would have quickly dispatched when they took control of Congress. By old business I mean:
- Issues that have been around for a while
- Have proven bipartisan support within Congress
- And high level support by the administration.
In other words, we are talking about policies that with just a bit of leadership and legislative muscle could have been law in January.
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