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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Excerpts from “At UN, Of Africa Days and Al Qaeda Evenings, Burundi and Bacardi Gold.”
By Matthew Russell Lee.

UNITED NATIONS, July 15 — With small countries in Africa dominating the Security Council’s July 15 schedule … one of the four countries already on the “Peace Building Commission” (PBC) agenda, Burundi, recently had a one party election marred by tossed grenades and now the threat of attack by Al Shabab.

Burundi has soldiers in Somalia {and this is the reason why it has become fair game to Al Shabab}. Inner City Press spoke this week with the UN’s envoy to Burundi Charles Petrie. He put a positive spin on the one party election, saying it was not as violent as it might have been.

Petrie said the opposition is weak, and the UN must play the counter-balance that civil society and opposition parties would in other countries. He should know: he was thrown out of Myanmar by the government, then served for a time in a humanitarian role on, but not in, Somalia. He was in the French military …. The Council should have heard from him but didn’t.

The same might be said of the UN’s new envoy to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga. He went into the Council’s quiet room on July 14, but was not heard from by the Council as a whole. He met with the Permanent Five, one by one. He stopped to speak to Inner City Press, about including Al Shabab on the Al Qaeda sanctions list under Council Resolution 1267 in the wake of the Kampala bombings {This again, because Uganda has military forces for peace Keeping in Somalia.}.

Later on July 14, at an ill-attended UK reception on climate change in the General Assembly lobby, Inner City Press asked UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant about 1267 and the Shabab. He pointed out that they are already on the Somalia sanctions list, and who knew who is or is not truly affiliated with Al Qaeda. An Ethiopian diplomat added, not surprisingly, they are “definitely” with Al Qaeda.

But the Council sticks to its schedule. Guinea Bissau was the topic for July 15. The coup leader now heads the military; the UN “took note” of it. A Presidential Statement is to be drafted in the coming days.

Still and all, the Permanent Representatives of France, Japan and Mexico strode into the Council just after 10 a.m..

{Liberia is now becoming the fifth small African Country on the PBC operating table.}
* * *
{And further at the UN} – In Wake of Uganda Bombing, UNSC Statement Does Not Assign Blame, Even After Al Shabab Takes Credit.

UNITED NATIONS, July 12, updated — A day after the Kampala double bombing which killed more than 60 people, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had yet to issue any kind of statement. In front of the Security Council on Monday morning, one non-permanent member’s spokesperson wondered under what agenda item the Council might issue a statement: Somalia?

Another spokesperson said moves were afoot for the issuance of a press statement, later in the day. Would it say who is responsible? After the bombing of trains in Madrid, the Council issued a statement blaming it on ETA. When Al Qaeda later took responsibility, the Council’s statement was never retracted.

Here, nearly all speakers including Uganda authorities are pointing the finger at Islamist Somali insurgents. They had vowed retaliation for the Ugandan and Burundian AMISOM peacekeepers’ shelling of a market in Mogadishu. Others pointed out the targeting of “Ethiopian Village,” given antagonism between irridentist Somalia and Ethiopia. Motive is certainly there– and, the media pointed out, opportunity.

As the draft text of the press statement was distributed to members, a Council diplomat told Inner City Press it did not assign blame, only the Council’s “standard terrorist attack language.” Might that change?

Update of 3:20 p.m. — Nigeria’s Ambassador, the Council’s president for July, read out a four paragraph statement. As Inner City Press predicted this morning, it did not assign blame. But in the interim, the spokesman for Al Shabab has taken credit for the bombings, saying they were months in the planning.

Inner City Press asked Nigeria’s Ambassador on camera why blame was not ascribed, and if this might not discourage countries from sending peacekeepers to Somalia. She declined the first, and to the second question said “there is a peace to keep in Somalia.”

Afterward, Inner City Press was told that Al Shabab’s confession came after the statement was circulated and concurrence obtained. They didn’t want to delay it. But wouldn’t it have been stronger if more specific? An Ethiopian diplomat spoke about Eritrea. If ten Taliban are coming off the 1267 Al Qaeda sanctions list, does that mean there’s room for Al-Shabab?

In Kampala, the Ethiopian Village?

Incoming UN envoy on Somalia, Tanzania’s former Ambassador Mahiga, spoke to Inner City Press at the UN in New York last week, including about the peacekeepers’ use of “long range artillery” and the civilian casualties caused. Will Mahiga take this so-called “collateral damage” more seriously than Ould Abdallah did?

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From the above we see clearly that when it come to the need to blame an Islamic insurgency, the UN is very slow at pointing a finger. There clearly must internal UN be reasons for that.

Now let us see what Fared Zakaria and his high-brow participants in his circle of policy reviewers think about the situation:

His program included Jeffrey Gettleman, the New York Times Bureau Chief in East Africa Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya) who saw the situation on location in Somalia, and Ken Menkhaus of Davison College in New Jersey, who served as UN Political Advisor in Somalia 1993-94.

 www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/fareed.z…

 www.cnn.com/video/#/video/podcast…

—————-

THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH
THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH

Chaos and lawlessness rule in Mogadishu, Somalia. And Al Shabab, a Somali affiliate of Al Qaeda, is exploiting that power vacuum and exporting terror.

Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the bombing of World Cup viewers in Uganda and is practicing an extreme form of Islamic justice.

What exactly is Al Shabab doing in Somalia and what can we expect next? Is there anything the U.S. or its allies can do to help the country that is called “the world’s worst failed state?”

—————

Somalia is a country of 6-8 million people and at the end of the cold war they were the most militarized country in the world. Now there are 1-1.5 million people living outside Somalia and the country was destroyed – not by bombings but by small caliber guns. There is no central authority in the country and it has become ideal terrain for an Al Qaeda base.

In 1992 the First President Bush had there 20,000 troops and left to avoid worst disaster leaving behind total vacuum.

The locals are incapable of establishing a functioning government. Foreign funds that go to an interim government are dissipated but nevertheless there is a will on the outside to view this government as a transition – the question transition to what?

The Al Shabab is widely unpopular but viewed as an alternative to useless government. This Al Shabab practices the most tuthless of Islam justice – like the cutting off of arms for suspected thieves.

In this second level of vacuum move in the foreigners – be these the Al Qaeda people from Pakistan who want to see if they can move here as a new home base, and some more benevolent home comers from among the Somali diaspora that actually are ready to provide their skills in building government at locality levels like cities. These are very welcome by the elders who are ready to back their efforts with the elder prestige.

This latter is the hope – but this is a bottom up government – and who will say that this will lead to a National government in its present borders? Would it not make sense to let them rule according to the ethnic divisions of the country and resulting in two or three smaller States that can then go their own ways? Jeffret Gettleman has seen this function on the ground in several locations where the situation is thus much better then in the country at large.

The importance of this goes well beyond Somalia and the case that came to mind in this CNN/GPS program was Iraq.

With the Iraqi elections held 133 days ago and a Parliament that todate has met only for the grandiose time of 18 minutes, and with the upcoming holidays, the evidence that nothing else can be expected before September and the US troops starting by then to leave the country, is Iraq going to be next Somalia?

So – the conclusion is that government can be built only bottom up if the idea is to reach up to democracy – and then why insist on having a non-unified country when the only evidence at hand is that the people actually hate each other and belong to various groups with the only semblance of unity is the unity of cleptocrats?

This disaster of Somalia may turn out to speak not only of Africa, but also of Iraq and why not of Afghanistan?

These problem go well beyond the limited scope we started out with.

—————————

 ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.as…

Somalia Centre Stage Ahead of AU Summit.
Joshua Kyalimpa –   ipsterraviva.netKAMPALA, Jul 18 (IPS) – The African Union summit opens in Kampala on July 19 amid heightened security following twin bomb attacks a week earlier. The official theme of child and maternal mortality will likely be overshadowed by discussion of the AU’s mission in Somalia.

The blasts, which killed at least 74 people and wounded 82 others watching the World Cup finals on big screens at the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kampala’s Kabalagala neighbourhood, and at the Kyaddondo rugby grounds. The attacks came just two days after a spokesperson for Somalia’s al-Shabaab group, which is fighting against the weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for control of the country, said Uganda would be targeted for its role in the conflict.

Questioning military solutions
Some analysts argue that a troop surge will achieve little, pointing to the difficulties faced by Ethiopia. Ethiopian soldiers entered Somalia in December 2006 to push back the Union of Islamic Courts, an Islamist group with ambitions to establish sharia law in Somalia, from which al-Shabaab subsequently emerged.

But while the UIC’s bid for control was halted, this larger force was unable to fully capture the capital or impose itself in the countryside; the Ethiopians pulled out and were replaced by the Ugandan-dominated AMISOM.

Makerere University political scientist Yassin Olum believes it is time for Uganda to review its position in Somalia, with a view to withdrawing.

“We have to ask ourselves why other African countries are not sending troops to Somalia. Maybe they have realised it’s a hot potato or they view it as an internal matter,” says Olum.

Targeting the AU mission in Somalia

Uganda contributes the majority of the 5,000 troops in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which has helped the TFG maintain a tenuous hold over parts of the capital, Mogadishu, but little more.

We are sending a message to every country who is willing to send troops to Somalia that they will face attacks on their territory,” said al-Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamoud Rage following the attacks. He added that Burundi, the second-largest troop contributor to AMISOM after Uganda, “will face similar attacks if they don’t withdraw.”

Bahoku Barigye, spokesperson for AMISOM, told IPS that the mission’s mandate should be expanded from peace-keeping – its terms of reference originate in a U.N. resolution authorising a “training and protection” mission – to one of peace enforcement, for which more soldiers would be needed.

“We have troops guarding the airport, the presidential palace, the port and other key installations this leaves us with few men to defend the civilians,” says Barigye.

Security personnel in Uganda have so far made 20 arrests; two men have also been detained in neighbouring Kenya in connection with the bombings.

Despite previous commitments by members of the African Union to contribute to a force of 20,000 peacekeepers, there are only about 5,000 troops in the Somali capital in support of the weak transitional federal government. Over 3,000 of these are from Uganda, the rest are from Burundi.

Uganda undeterred

At a Jul. 14 meeting called after the Kampala bombings, the Inter Government Authority on Development, a regional bloc of countries in the Horn of Africa, agreed to send an additional 2,000 soldiers.

Uganda has indicated it will send in more of its own troops if other countries are not willing.

Addressing a news conference at his private home in Ntugamo, western Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni said, “It was a very big mistake on their side; we shall

Development goals overshadowed by conflict?
African civil society has voiced concerns that the AU summit to be held in Kampala from Jul. 17-19 could be dominated by the Somalia question.

The official theme of the summit is “Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa,” but consideration of this development goal seems likely to suffer the same fate as previous themes on water and sanitation and promotion of agriculture: a formal declaration will be made, but the summit will be dominated by al-Shabaab’s bombing of Uganda, the leading contributor of troops to the AU’s mission in Somalia.

Civil society organisations organised a forum in Kampala ahead of the summit to enable civil society, ordinary citizens and key stake holders deliberate on the key issues and demand action, but now doubt they will get a platform to present their case to African leaders.

l deal with the authors of this crime.” He is also reported to have assured the U.S., which takes an active interest in Somali Islamist activity, that Uganda would not try to disentangle itself from the conflict in Somalia.

The U.S. ambassador to Uganda, Jerry Lanier, said, “We believe the Uganda mission is more important than ever now.”

The ambassador said the U.S. planned to increase assistance to Uganda and AMISOM.

Political scientist Yassin Olum says the Ugandan president needed more time to reflect on the matter before making statements.

“What this means is that we are no longer neutral in the conflict and we are fighting on the side of the Transitional Federal Government which is dangerous. This is not conventional warfare where you need more troops to defeat the enemy.”

Fred Bwire, a Kampala city resident, voices the attitude of many ordinary Ugandans towards the Somali mission. “What are we doing there? Our people are being killed for nothing. Why aren’t Kenyans – who are neighbors with Somalia – bothered?”

Hussein Kyanjo, an opposition member of parliament, believes the main beneficiary of Uganda’s continued involvement in Somalia is President Museveni himself. “He knows that the United States of America opposes the al-Shabaab and so he fights U.S. enemies to blind them to his dictatorial tendencies.”

Amama Mbabazi, Uganda’s minister for security, responds that Kyanjo forgets that Uganda was suffered terrorist attacks long before it sent troops to Somalia.

“The Allied Democratic Forces – another rebel outfit with links to Al-Qaeda – killed many people in the past and my friend Kyanjo seems to have forgotten this.”

In their struggle against the government, the Islamist ADF rebels attacked police posts, schools and trade centres in the west of the country beginning in 1996; in 1998, it carried out several bombings in Kampala, killing five and wounding six others. Military action by the Ugandan army largely destroyed the group the following year.

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July 21, 2010 as per official UN NEWS we are not convinced the UN has the faintest idea of what to do about Somalia beyond calling for wasting some more money on it:

UN DAILY NEWS from the
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE

21 July, 2010 =========================================================================

UN SOUNDS THE ALARM AS DIRE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION CONTINUES TO GRIP SOMALIA .

As Somalia remains in the grip of a humanitarian crisis, it is vital to ensure adequate funding to assist the 3.2 million people – or more than 40 per cent of the population – who rely on international aid, a senior United Nations aid official stressed today.

UN agencies and their partners have so far received only 56 per cent of the $600 million needed to fund critical areas such as health, water and sanitation, nutrition and livelihood support in Somalia, which is recovering from drought and years of chaos and is also in the throes of ongoing violence.

“My major concern at this time of the year is that there is a renewed emphasis on ensuring that we do address the funding gaps in Somalia to help us to sustain the achievements that can continue to be made in one of the world’s most difficult and acute humanitarian crises,” said Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for Somalia.

He told a news conference in New York that the situation in the Horn of Africa nation is characterized by severe child malnutrition, loss of livestock and livelihoods, as well as ongoing displacement owing to continued clashes between Government forces and Islamist militant groups.

The conflict has led to Somalia being one of the countries with the highest number of uprooted people in the world – an estimated 1.4 million displaced within the country and almost 595,000 living as refugees in neighbouring countries.

“Conflict is the driving cause behind displacement and most of it comes from Mogadishu,” he said, noting that 20,000 people were displaced in the capital in June, and an estimated 200,000 people have been displaced from the city this year.

In addition, fighting in Mogadishu since March this year has led to more than 3,000 conflict-related casualties.

“What I genuinely hope is that we try to find some way of reducing the impact of this conflict on the civilian population and all parties need to find more peaceful means of settling their disputes,” he said, adding that where that is not possible, to at least avoid the considerable collateral damage on civilians.

Despite the ongoing crisis, Mr. Bowden noted that the situation in Somalia “isn’t all bad news,” although it is one of the most complicated humanitarian situations the UN is facing.

Some major achievements include keeping the country free of polio amid a resurgence of the disease in a number of other African countries. This is thanks to the provision of clean water to 1.3 million people, as well as vaccination campaigns that were carried out, even in volatile areas.

“We are able to make progress in terms of managing humanitarian operations in extremely difficult circumstances, which include control of large parts of the country by rebel groups and active conflict in other parts,” he noted.

————————————

And Inner City Press from the UN continues its bleak reporting from the UN that really shows again and again that the UN will not lead the Somalis out of their misery.

See – www.innercitypress.com/un1soa0721…

Killing of Civilians by UN Supported Troops in Somalia Admitted But Not Acted On.

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, July 21 — In the wake of the World Cup finals bombing in Uganda, there has been even less discussion of the civilians being killed in Mogadishu by the peacekeeping mission which the UN is supporting. But a memo leaked from within that AMISOM mission notes continued firing into civilian neighborhoods.
Inner City Press asked UN Humanitarian coordinator Mark Bowden whether there is a special responsibility on the UN to ensure that the troops to which it provides logistical support through its UNSOA office are not killing civilians. “Yes there is,” Bowden said, adding that he’s “had discussions” with Ambassador Diarra of the African Union about “reducing civilian casualties.” ………..  it continues

On Child Soldiers Supported by UN in Somalia, UNSC Will Respond After 3 Years.

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, June 16, updated — Days after the UN-supported Somali Transitional Federal Government’s use of child soldiers was widely exposed, the UN Security Council’s lack of seriousness on the issue was on display on Wednesday. Mexican foreign minister Patricia Espinosa presided over a day-long series of speeches about children and armed conflict. At noon, Inner City Press asked her what she and the Council would do about their support of the TFG, which uses children as young as nine and 12 to wield AK-47s in Mogadishu.

This has not been raised to the Security Council, Secretary Espinosa replied, not even to the Working Group. …… more

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

TUESDAY, JUNE 29, 2010

 ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.as…
Q&A: “There Is Almost Total Impunity for Rape in Congo”
Jennie Lorentsson of IPS/TerraViva interviews MARGOT WALLSTRÃ-M, Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 28 (IPS) – Sexual violence against women has become part of modern warfare around the world. In some countries, women cannot even go out to draw water without fear of being attacked and raped.

On Apr. 1, Margot Wallström became the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Her job is to investigate abuses and make recommendations to the Security Council. The appointment of Wallstrom, currently a vice president of the European Commission, comes amidst continued reports of gender violence, including rape and sexual abuse both locally and by humanitarian aid workers and U.N. peacekeepers, mostly in war zones and in post-conflict societies.

The incidents of sexual attacks, both on women and children, have come from several countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Haiti, Burundi, Guinea and Liberia. One of Wallstrom’s first assignments was a trip to the DRC, a nation she calls “the rape capital” of the world. Excerpts from the interview with Wallström follow.

Q: Tell us about your trip.

A: Congo has attracted attention in the media [as a place that is suffering] systematic rape in war. One statistic quoted is 200,000 rapes since the beginning of the war 14 years ago, and it is certainly an underestimate.

When in Congo, I met government representatives and particularly women who had been raped and violated. It was interesting but also disappointing – nothing is getting better and more and more civilians are committing rapes.

But I should be fair and say that there has been progress, the government has introduced laws against rape, it has a national plan and there is political will. There is a lot to do to implement the legislation, but now there is an ambitious legal ground to stand on to be implemented by the police, judiciary and health care.

Q: What are the roots of the problem?

A: The sexual violence in Congo is the result of the war between the many armed groups. To put women in the front line has become a part of modern warfare.

Men often feel threatened in times of conflict and stay inside, but the women have to go out and get water and firewood and go to the fields to find food. In many cases they’ll be the first to be attacked. Especially if there is no paid national army that can protect civilians, rape is a part of the looting and crimes against the innocent. In addition, there is almost total impunity for rape in the Congo.

Q: The U.N. has its own force, MONUC, in Congo to protect civilians. What is being done to help women?

A: MONUC has had to adjust their operations after the conditions in the country. For example, MONUC has special patrols which escort women to health care clinics and markets.

Q: The U.N. and the Congolese government are discussing when the U.N. should leave the country. What would happen if the U.N. left the Congo now?

A: We have reason to be worried if the United Nations would leave the Congo. It is still unsettled in some parts of the country and the U.N. provides logistics for many of the NGOs operating in the country, and they rely in the U.N.

What is happening right now is that [the government] wants to show that it can protect the country itself – it’s a part of the debate on independence.

Q: How do feel when you hear about U.N. peacekeepers committing atrocities?

A: Just one example is too much. It destroys our confidence in the U.N.’s ability to do great things.

Q: There is criticism that the U.N. is a bureaucratic and inflexible organisation. Do you agree?

A: In every large organisation there is critisism like this. After 10 years in the European Commission, I can recognise such trends here, there is always. But basically, there are high hopes and great confidence in the U.N. and the energy and passion that exists for the U.N. is very useful.

Q: The Security Council has promised to focus even more on the issue of violence against women. Which countries should be focused on?

A: Congo is a given, also Darfur and a number of other countries in Africa. We will also focus on Liberia, where it is more a post-conflict society which has been brutalised and where rape is the most common offence. We cannot be in all countries with conflicts, we will comply with the Security Council agenda. This is a problem that not only exists in Africa.

Q: What can your staff do on site?

A: Our team of legal experts can help a country to establish a modern legislation. Impunity is the foundation of the problem, the women have to go with guilt and the men go free. We must try to understand how such a culture is created and how it can be a method of warfare. Then we can stop it.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 22nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Young Artists Auction Off Masterpieces:   Proceeds to UNICEF Emergency Response.

Paint for the Planet highlights children’s call for leadership on climate change

Paintings chosen from among 200,000 entries by young artists from around the world will be auctioned off as part of Paint for the Planet, an event organized in New York by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). All proceeds will go to UNICEF to support emergency response for children affected by climate-related disasters.

In addition to the live auction at the Harvard Club of New York, the art will also be sold online to enable people around the world to participate. To see the paintings and to bid online, please visit: www.unep.org

Where & When:

23 October, 2008:
12: UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner will be present at the NOON briefing in room 226 at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
12.30–2 pm: Exhibit opening and press conference in the Main Lobby of the UN Headquarters in New York.

25 October: 7-9 pm Auction at the Harvard Club of New York, 30 W. 44th Street

Who:

Six young artists from Burundi, Colombia, Malta, the United Kingdom and the United States { None from Asia ? } will be in New York for the event. UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will be present at the auction.

Why:
The auction in New York on 25 October will help raise emergency funds for children affected by climate-related disasters, with the proceeds being donated to UNICEF.

Paint for the Planet features a selection of stand-out entries from UNEP’s International Children’s Painting Competition. The paintings, which showcase children’s fears and hopes for the planet, are a powerful plea from children for leadership on climate change before it is too late. Paint for the Planet is a launch pad for the ‘UNite to Combat Climate Change’ campaign to support the call for a definitive agreement at the climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009.

To attend the auction at the Harvard Club, journalists must RSVP.

For more information, visit www.unep.org or contact:

Jim Sniffen, UNEP New York office, at  james.sniffen at unep.org or tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210
Anne-France White, UNEP Associate Information Officer, at  anne-france.white at unep.org or mobile: +917 838 9985
Gaurav Garg, UNICEF Media,  ggarg at unicef.org or tel: +1 212 326 7665, mobile: 646 912 4294

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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So, what we have here is that the UNSG, on the eve of his departure to East Asia, with a full schedule of events that day, that also took him that evening to the Japan Society – an event we reported, had also made sure that the UN Outreach Division of DPI organize an event intended to save future generations from the horrors that supposedly belong to times predating the UN. The problem is that it took 60 years to reach the point that the institution has finally decided to remember the 1939-1945 Holocaust against Jewish people, the Roma and Sinti, and the murders of others that bared for all to see the extent of the capability of the human species of being subhuman.

But this was not the end to the   sub-humanity – it is being demonstrated in continuing fashion. We know of Rwanda, Bosnia, and we try not to see now Darfur. Different people have different views on ongoing killings. Are these genocide? Let’s sit down and talk – this while the killings go on daily. Neigh, there is no UN decision to go in and stop the killings but we preach that every individual has the responsibility to do what the Governments sitting at the UN refuse to do.

Mr. Akasaka, a UN UnderSecretary-General, opened the meeting and said that fundamental human rights are the basis for the UN charter codified three years later in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He also told us that the Paris September 3-5, 2008 gathering of DPI and NGOs will deal this year with Human Rights as this is the 60th celebration of the signing of the Declaration.

Mr. Akasaka said here something very important.   The UN Charter governs relations between States – large and small; the Universal DHR guards the relations between human beings and the States – The INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF HUMAN BEINGS. And furthermore – on December 9, 1948, the day before the signing of the UDHR, The UN General Assembly adopted the Genocide Convention. Thus he continued this logic by saying that the UNSG has said that preventing genocide is a collective and Individual Responsibility and called for the entire UN system to be empowered to prevent massacres.

He Continued by saying that the panel will present stories on how individuals have helped, also how modern technology like satellite imaginary can help and that we will hear how NGOs and media have brought to the front the horror stories.

Prior to that he also said that the UN was established because of the horrors of the Holocaust and the two- the Holocaust and the UN are interrelated like cause and effect that was intended to avoid any repeat of such horrors.

Mr. Akasaka finished his introductory. left the place and Mr. Eric Felt took over.

Mr. Felt introduced   Mr. Jean-Marc Coicaud as moderator. He is the Head of the New York Office of the Tokyo based UN University. He wrote: an article   “Meaning and Value of Political Apology” that he presented on May 23, 2008, at an earlier part of this two part series of the UN DPI Outreach Programme on Genocide related issues.

DOWNLOAD: age-of-apology-jm-coicaud.pdf

That presentation was based on a chapter from “The Age of Apology: Facing Up To The Past” that was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. That book was a product of the Tokyo office of the UNU   Peace and Governance Program. So we see the UN relates Holocaust and Genocide to the future of humanity and the future of the UN – by first taking the step to recognize the wrongs of the past.

On June 26 Dr. Coicaud made reference to that first round of these meetings, and said that the first session dealt with “Can Genocide be Prevented?” and he said that the answer was not clear. WHAT WAS MISSING WAS THE OPERATIONAL ANSWER – how to achieve results in operational terms. He expressed the hope that in this second session we might come up with an answer – and that would be an achievement.

We clearly blessed on his hope, but we, honestly, do not expect such a thing from the UN – though clearly, an institution like the UN University should be allowed to point fingers and say just that – the UN does nice talk sometimes, but is short of actions most of the time. The world cannot do just with talk and demands actions – so one must think of reforming the UN so it would act when action is warranted.

Mr. Felt added to Mr. Coicaud that there is an individual as well as a collective responsibility to prevent genocide.

Now, the first presentations by the   Holocaust   Remembrance institutions. First to make the presentation was Mr. Robert Rozett, Director of Libraries at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel. He presented cases of rescue in the hope we can learn from actual happenings.

He said that we are trained to look at rescue in the form of a cavalier on a white horse, but in the Holocaust we look mostly at neighbors, at the Pope, at people as individuals.

(a) the rescue of Aron Wolff and his family by a neighbor in Carpathia at Scoll. In this case it was a man who was once helped by a loan. Swisten remembered that deed and came to help now without doing this for money. In the end of the war Swisten was killed by another neighbor because he helped a Jew.

(b) the case of Rabbi Weissmandel who tried to get the Vatican to help with the Slovak government. His argument was to create labor camps right there in Slovakia rather then send the Jews to Poland for working camps there (this as in the euphemism for the extermination camps in Poland). His idea would benefit the slovaks he said. Eventually 60,000 Jews were deported – 30,000 stayed.

August 1944, Weissmandel himself and his family were in a car to go to Auschwitz, but was allowed to stay and had to leave his family in the railroad car. He was smuggled to Switzerland to continue his rescue efforts but never forgave himself for leaving his family to go to their death.

(c) the case of a little boy saved by a dog while the farmer who knew the boy was in the dog-house never took a stand – not for the boy nor against him. The dog stood guard for the boy and not just shared his food with him, but actually let him eat first. The lesson here is about the ethics of the dog vs. the ethics of humanity {just go and tell this today to those committing genocide in Africa, Bosnia, or to the likes of Ahmedi-Nejad}.

Here, Mr. Joseph Rubagumya, now with the School of International Public Affairs of Columbia University, originally from Rwanda, told about his own experience from Africa’s wars of extermination. His family left first from Rwanda in 1960   to Congo, then to Uganda,Sierra where they worked on a coffee plantation.   He returned in June 1994 to Rwanda and everything they had was from cans sent in from donors. Eventually people from an NGo helped him get a scholarship to the US.

Further material about Rwanda was distributed at the entrance to the room. It spoke about “Never Again” and the “Responsibility to Protect: Who is responsible for protecting vulnerable peoples?” It also had a couple of pages about “Sexual Violence: A Too of War.” It extolled “Supporting Survivors” and paragraphs about the various   International Criminal Tribunals.

The third speaker was a lady with experience at many of these International Criminal Tribunals – Sierra Leone, Cambodia ….Ms. Daphna Shraga is Principal Legal Officer in the UN Office of Legal Affairs. She seems to be a top lawyer and the crispness of her presentation was in itself a demonstration how tough it is to do justice in a warped UN system.

The UN recognizes as punishable crimes of genocide if bodily and mental harm are committed and killings if it is an act by one group against another by reasons of religion or ethnicity, but excepts if harm is done because of political or cultural differences. So, the genocide convention refers only to racial, ethnic, religious differences.

Prevention and Punishment are two different notions. If punishment prevents – this is only for next cycle of violence – and obviously the violence was not committed yet – so this is something that does not come under the convention.

These strange principles were established at Nuremberg – that the individuals are responsible because states are abstract entities that do not commit crimes. The responsibility thus falls on individuals.

The genocide is about the fact that one is born into the group – this is why political and cultural reasons are not included.

In the case of Bosnia-Herzegowina – the Serbs against the Muslims – there was killing of the young only – not the whole group – the argument was that this does not constitute by definition genocide! As no other crimes come under the statute except crimes a defined genocide by that statute – these crimes were not punishable.

In 2007 the International Court of Justice made the judgement that if the individual is made responsible it is still the responsibility of the State – also because the State did not prevent or punish the crime.

Srebeniza was a special case as here there was enough evidence that genocide was committed against a whole group – basically – here all men were killed – not just young ones.

Is there an obligation of all States to prevent genocide in any State? Even though it was decided already that the obligation extends from the State were it was started – the prevention is to be obligatory to those outside that State.

{we had here a belly full of doubts about much of what was said – legalistics aside. What is culture if not a combination of ethnicity and religion? How can one exclude crimes against people because of their culture? Albeit, it is obvious that the Soviets and China had no interest in safeguarding rights of politics and culture in those dingy days of post San Francisco negotiations, but should not the UN step in and straighten this mess out today?).

Presentations four and five take us back to the Holocaust. Both presenters part of the Washington DC US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Ms. Bridget Conley-Zilkic, the director of the Committee on Conscience, who stated that there is a commitment that the memory is tied to action today – Agitation, Memorialization and Conscience are the three committees in the Museum.
The Holocaust was based on total collapse – the individual, the social, the national, and the international.

Mr. Larry Swaider, Chief Information Officer at the Museum stepped in explaining the communication technology he use at www.ushmm.org a website with 17 million uniques/year coming from 100 countries.

He uses now GoogleEarth and can see villages being burned. Looking at what happens today in the world he can see people fleeing when he picks at following a particular person.

there is today the possibility to use “World of Witness” – a Geo-blog. Also some book clubs, like Oprah’s do follow genocide.

The sixth and last presentation was by the honorable Edward C. Luck, Now on leave from his position at Columbia University, he is Director of Studies at the International Peace Academy and is and was Special Adviser to the last two UN Secretary-Generals. He was also a President of the UN Association of the US. His Focus is on the obligations that come under the Responsibility To Protect and he was involved with former UNSG Kofi Annan in getting this concept accepted by the UN. So, no wonder that his topic was about the Responsibility of the State to Protect its Citizens.

He started by saying that he is sorry Mr. Akasaka is not in the room anymore. This because he wanted to set the record straight on a very important issue. He said that the Holocaust was not mentioned in San Francisco of 1945.
Basically the idea was then to establish the institution of the UN and the hope was that once there is an institution it can then be used for all sorts of things. This was a very fast creation and then the question was posed – so what will the UN do?

The Holocaust teaches us that genocide today is not just about Africa – it is about anywhere. just think what one of the most advanced nations – Germany – did. It can thus happen in a most advanced country in Europe – it can happen anywhere.

There are now policy tools, institutions, and individuals themselves that can make a difference.

Mostly – there is now a responsibility to try. To recognize what is happening and to do something. In Darfur we see a response.

1998 – 1999, Kofi Annan, with the help of Canada worked on this and came up with the R to P idea in 2001.

Responsibility to Protect is not the enemy of Sovereignty because States were created with the responsibility to protect their citizens.

The international community has the responsibility to assist the State. Not to punish the State when they failed, but to help them solve the internal problem. When they fail – there is a responsibility to use diplomacy and help.

Here Prof. Luck brought to his help front page recent news – the Kenya case when Kofi Annan went in recently to mediate between the two warring factions.

Another not so distant case was the dilemma the US had in how do you prevent WWIII with the USSR and all those economic and social issues that came up? The US did not pay enough attention to those issues – only to the National Strategic side.

Ms. Daphna Shraga pointed out that there is this concept that the UN is immune – but it is for the member states to evoke the UN immunity in court. To this Prof Luck said that there is also something like a Court of Public Opinion.

Yad Vashem found very strong interest in China – this also because of receptivity from their own experience at Nanjing. Young audiences in China are interested in how the memory of the Holocaust is kept alive. The task is to keep good documentation of what has happened and such documentation is being organized now in China.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 5th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The following are some of the winning drawings and we are amazed of how much can be read into them in an effort to understand the educational environments in the home countries of these children….

The Global Winner is an 11 year old girl from the UK with a politically sophisticated entree. She sees the pollution as a result of governments and global business backing fossil fuels and ending up with an upturned umbrella instead of the protection they purported to provide.

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On the other hand, the winner for the North American Region just portrays the total information she gets from the media. She has though expressed her preference for change.

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The 11 year old girl from China seems to show us that ideal situation will come about when every other part of the world does its due in using alternate energy methods – like biomass, solar, wind,

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The 12 year old boy from Burundi Sees the problems in his immediate area as being caused by rain or lack of rain – in both cases there is famine because there are no trees and even if there is rain it runs off and harms plantings – the result is hunger. The ideal situation requires land-cover in order to have a green environment and food

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The girl from Bahrain knows about toxic gases that come from the refinery in her neighborhood, but seemingly nobody told her that the CO2 should also have a place in her listing of bad gases – this because of climate change.
Ergo – the education in Bahrain, an oil refining island=state – just does not explain how global warming/climate change came about. Now remember please – that was the topic of this competition.

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Is it not amazing?

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