The Global Citizen: United Nations
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).
A reader at The Washington Note pointed out that yesterday was World Refugee Day. To mark the occasion, the UN High Commission on Refugees released a report that counts over 10 million asylum-seekers this year.
That's a 14% increase over last year, thanks mostly to the estimated 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria. This is one "surge" that deserves serious attention.
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.
This afternoon, G8 leaders reached a compromise on climate change. The agreement comes after weeks of tension between the U.S. and European members of the G8 over establishing goals for international action to combat global warming.
Yesterday, President Bush made it clear that the U.S. would not reconsider its opposition to including a concrete global emissions target in the G8 communique.
Reuters reports that the G8 leaders have agreed to "substantial reduction of greenhouse gases," and a recommitment to UN climate negotiations, but the final G8 communique will not include the firm emissions targets sought by Europe.
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, as my colleague Scott Paul noted last month, is a breath of fresh air in Turtle Bay. New York Times U.N. reporter, Warren Hoge, picked up Scott's sense on Wednesday.
Mr. Khalilzad, the former American ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, has been welcomed effusively since his arrival six weeks ago, and one frequently mentioned reason is that he strikes people as so different from John R. Bolton, the combative former American ambassador.
Ambassador Bolton not only poisoned the water for U.S. relations during his tenure as our nation's emissary to the U.N., he sent diplomacy back to the Stone Age. While Ambassador Khalilzad is still a key member of the Bush administration, his tone and demeanor - at least during his first six weeks - is already helping repair the damage done by his predecessor. In his story, Hoge quote a long-time observer and expert on the U.N.:
The G8 summit started off with a bang - the sound of President Bush slamming the door on Germany's global warming proposal. The President's chief environmental adviser, Jim Connaughton, dashed whatever faint hopes remained that the administration would accept the goal proposed by its European counterparts - cutting carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 in order to prevent temperatures rising by more than 2'C (which scientists have identified as earth's climate tipping point) - when he announced this morning that the U.S. would reject the proposal.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, will not leave entirely empty-handed, however. Her consolation prize is a commitment from President Bush that the U.S. will work within the existing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to seek a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. This is a much-needed reassurance, after the President's announcement last week, which seemed to indicate the U.S. would sidestep the UN process to launch its own set of bilateral and multilateral discussions on climate change.
I suppose a little bit of something is better than nothing... But I still think we should expect better from the U.S.
While G8 leaders get together in Heiligendamm today through Friday to discuss climate change, aid and international economic issues, another headline should be giving us pause. Today's front page article in the FT'suggests that OPEC is beginning to panic about the increasing emphasis the US and Europe are placing on biofuels (energy from corn/sugar). The head of OPEC said that the cartel may be forced to reduce investments in oil production in anticipation of the switchover to biofuels.
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