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Qatar Becomes the 186th Nation to Ratify CEDAW!

What do Sudan, Somalia, Iran, and the United States have in common? They are just a few of the states that have yet to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women [CEDAW]. The United States remains the only developed nation in the world to not have ratified CEDAW. The state to ratify CEDAW most recently was Qatar. On April 26, 2009, Qatar ratified CEDAW without any reservations to the Convention.

What Role for Diplomacy in Stabilization and Reconstruction?

Yesterday, May 12, Army Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal was recommended by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to replace the former top U.S. and NATO commander. McChrystal joins four ambassadors who are second-in-command for the region.

Energy Security: Carter's View

J.Carter and J.Kerry

Former President Jimmy Carter spoke at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, May 12. During the hearing it seemed the panel's main goal was to hear what Carter had to say about the current climate crisis and how it affects United States foreign relations.

Engaging Iran: Obstacles and Opportunities

On Wednesday, May 6, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing with Senator John Kerry presiding. The hearing addressed prevention of nuclear proliferation in Iran and challenges it posed to the global community.  Witnesses included District Attorney and Assistant District Attorney for New York County, Robert Morgenthau and Adam Kaufmann, as well as Former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns.

Reviving U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Control

On Wednesday, May 6, the Brookings Institute held a discussion on U.S.-Russia relations and the challenges posed by nuclear arms control. Panelists included Brookings President Strobe Talbot, Steven Pifer, Visiting Fellow and author of “Beyond START: Negotiating the Next Step in U.S. and Russian Strategic Nuclear Arms Reductions,” and Brookings vice president and director of Foreign Policy Carlos Pascual.

Progress Report from the US Mission to the UN

The United States Mission to the United Nations released its Progress Report last week, giving a positive outlook on future US-UN relations and US engagement on international issues. The biggest thing to take from the Progress Report is that the current administration has acknowledged that and promoted the idea that international engagement is required to meet modern threats.

"We are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun. For we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America." -President Barack H. Obama, Feb. 24, 2009

More importantly, the administration has put forth the idea that America should be leading the world in international affairs and in its engagement with the UN. As the largest contributor (and host country) to the United Nations, the US should be engaging the UN in a productive way to ensure that the organization moves in a direction that will benefit all nations. The antagonistic stance taken by the previous administration towards the UN has tarnished our reputation internationally, but the Obama administration has already taken great strides to reaffirm our commitment to multilateralism.

"We Gotta Get That Done!" - John Kerry

"We gotta get that done!" was a statement made by Kerry on May 5, 2009, when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hosted a round table event to discuss the future of the Arctic titled The Global Implications of a Warming Arctic.

Legislation for Modern Solutions

A House of Representatives Resolution (H.RES.363) was introduced on April 23 by Lynn Woolsey of California. The resolution calls for a "smart security platform for the 21st century," and its ideas and suggestions run parallel to the goals and ideas of

The resolution calls for:

1. Strengthening international institutions by working with the UN and other international institutions.

2. Adhering to, supporting, and strengthening existing and future nonproliferation treaties and, more importantly, for the US to set an example for the rest of the world by taking the lead on renouncing nuclear weapons tests and the development of new weapons.

3. Addressing the root causes of violent conflict in the world by integrating peace-building and conflict prevention into US development programs and engaging the international community in post-conflict reconstruction and political transition processes.

4. Greater investment in long-term sustainable and renewable energy sources to confront the threat of global warming.

5. Pursuing to the fullest extent alternatives to war through early warning systems, human rights monitoring, and multilateral rapid response mechanisms

Council on Foreign Relations Report Calls Law of the Sea Ratification in the National Interest

CFR LOS ReportThe Council on Foreign Relations just released a report, The National Interest and the Law of the Sea, written by Scott Borgerson calling for Senate approval of the Law of the Sea convention.  The report is a well written and detailed document that methodically examines the treaty and the pros and cons of ratification.  Borgerson comes down strongly on the side of ratification for many reasons.  He says that the treaty will:

"Enhance U.S. global credibility -- by matching action to rhetoric regarding the rule of law. Joining this particular convention sends a powerful signal of commitment to this principle. The undeniable semantic message of the title "Law of the Sea" and the practical effect of officially becoming party to a legal regime over the vast expanse of the world's oceans combine to reinforce the strength of this signal."

Borgenson makes a strong case why joining the treaty now is strongly in the national intererest:

Is the United States the new France?

In a panel discussion at the Brookings Institute on April 28, 2009 four experts spoke about the differences and similarities between the U.S. and France. To be specific, the topic of social democracy and Obama’s “revolution,” and how it is similar to what France has already implemented in their government.

This new idea of changing the current U.S. system into a social democracy has been called the “Obama revolution” and involves the popular topic of universal healthcare for all U.S. citizens. The panel had made a point to say that it was a good idea for the U.S. to implement a more universal healthcare system. In France, the average person lives longer and is also very happy with the high quality of healthcare. Although it was also pointed out that in recent polls taken, many people in the U.S. did not want to front the bill for such a system that would include those who would otherwise not be able to pay for healthcare. It seemed that when confronted with the idea of healthcare for all, many people were happy about the idea, but when asked if they were comfortable with paying higher taxes to make sure everyone could have this, less than 50% said they would like it.

In addition to talking about healthcare reform, the panel mentioned the fact that the French also have a free Pre-Kindergarten system for all children. This could be another possibility for the U.S. if it decided to continue with the idea of a social democracy since the schooling would also be funded by the state.