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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 13th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

www.opendemocracy.net/article/the-arab-future-conspiracy-vs-reality

The Arab future: conspiracy vs reality.

In OpenDemocracy, Hazem Saghieh,  12 – 08 – 2009
A legal conflict between the daughters of former Egyptian presidents is a sad commentary on the Arab world’s condition, says Hazem Saghieh.
12 – 08 – 2009
he predicament of the Arab world is exposed in unexpected ways. Consider the following passage, part of a lengthy news-item in the 28 July 2009 edition of the London-based Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi:

“The judgment-enforcement services visited Dr Hoda Abdel Nasser’s apartment in the new Egyptian suburbs in order to seize her assets and furniture, in execution of a court judgment in favor of Ruqaya Sadat, daughter of late president Anwar Sadat. The south Cairo court had ordered [the daughter of Sadat’s predecessor as Egypt’s president, Gamal Abdel Nasser] to pay a 150,000 Egyptian-pound indemnity to Ruqaya, whom she had accused of tainting her father’s image after she had accused him of masterminding a plan to kill Gamal Abdel Nasser.”

Hazem Saghieh is senior commentator for the London-based paper al-Hayat

Hazem Saghieh’s articles onopenDemocracyinclude:

Rafiq al-Hariri’s murder: why do Lebanese blame Syria?” (21 February 2008)

Syria and Lebanon: keeping it in the family” (14 December 2005)

How the European left supports Lebanon” (14 August 2006)

Lebanon’s internal struggle: two logics in combat” (19 December 2006)

The Arab defeat” (11 June 2007)

Lebanon’s ‘14 March’: from protest to leadership” (1 April 2008)

Lebanon’s elections: reading the signs” (12 June 2009)

Iran: dialectic of revolution” (23 June 2009)

Arabs and the Iranian upheaval” (9 July 2009)

Hizbollah’s ‘divine victory’: three years on” (20 July 2009)

Israeli settlement, Arab movement” (28 July 2009)Hoda Abdel Nasser, the paper continued, had in 2008 lost a court case after describing Ruqaya Sadat as “the killer of my father” because he is “an American agent, and American newspapers have said this.”

The main characters in this drama are not ordinary ones: the daughter of Nasser, who ruled Egypt for eighteen years (July 1952-June 1970), and the daughter of Sadat, who ruled it for eleven years (June 1970-October 1981) – and the link between them nothing less than a murder accusation! It is obvious that there is enough material here to produce a long and entertaining soap opera.

The plot is irresistible, and rewrites Egypt’s modern history. The myth that Sadat was Nasser’s loyal companion, his vice-president, speaker of parliament and heir is at last exploded. Rather, he is an anti-Nasser plotter; and since he killed him politically (by turning away from his policies) couldn’t he also be his biological killer, and in the pay of the CIA?

The mix of farce and bathos here is accentuated by the story’s timing: days after the commemoration of the “July 23 revolution”, referring to themoment in 1952 when the young Nasser and his “free officer” colleagues seized power and changed Egypt for ever. The memory of this “revolution” is today so emptied of all meaning that the Israeli president Shimon Peres and his prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could celebrate it in the Egyptian ambassador’s house in Tel Aviv. Indeed, the daughters’ dispute is all that this year has had to energise the occasion and refill its void with content.

But this content gives no ground for celebration. For what is on display here is only an exaggerated form of the conspiracy theories that are reaching unprecedented levels in Egypt and the Arab world. The leading Palestinian politician Farouk Qaddumi has accused the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas of killing Abbas’s own predecessor Yasser Arafat. It is surely time to ask: can the “natural” death of any Arab leader be taken as a fact? Is it possible for an Arab leader to die without being murdered?

The shared feature of the “murder victims”, Nasser and Arafat is that these very different political figures represent a way of thinking and behaving that is now dead. Since admitting its death is hard, a resort to conspiracy theories becomes for those who seek to “keep them alive” an urgent duty and necessary outlet.

The alternative, after all, is hard. It would require the parties involved to discard conspiracies and summon the courage to face the death of the political current that prevailed between the mid-1950s and the early 1970s, known as the Arab national-liberation movement.

The evidence, from the Maghreb to the Mashreq, is plain. The Algerian revolution, the jewel of this movement, produced a regime that incubated a civil war costing around 200,000 deaths. The Yemeni revolutions of north and south were followed by military coups, mutinies, and assassinations; the dream of “unity” between the two states has for many Yemenis turned into a nightmare. The Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi marries pan-Arabism one day only to divorce it the next. Sudan has been transformed from the time of Jaafar Nimeiri (who initiated his regime by liquidating Sudan’s Communist Party) into a state ruled by Islamists responsible for the Darfur genocide.

The Ba’ath party itself, crucible of the Arab nationalism mission and of the drive to unit the “eternal Arab nation”, split into two groups centred on Damascus and Baghdad; each then gave birth to further rival claimants. Before and since Saddam Hussein’s demise, the record of theBa’athists in power in both capitals was characterised by voices of family betrayal, siblings at war, sons and daughters exchanging shrill accusations of violating the scared cause. The circle here loops back to the daughters of Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat – the repetition of history, but “the second time as farce”.

This spectacle, the death of an entire project, does not need conspiracies to grasp it. It only requires the tracing of the adventurous journey of the corpse, including Ayatollah Khomeini’s attempt to inherit it in 1979 and George W Bush’s very different effort to appropriate it in 2003.

Now, the decomposition is well advanced. To evade it, to prefer conspiracy to reality, is to allow the putrefaction to grow. Arabs can’t keep quiet much longer. Hoda and Ruqaya are the latest to disclose our family secret.


Also in openDemocracy on the Arab world in 2009:

Ghassan Khatib, “Gaza: outlines of an endgame” (6 January 2009)

Tarek Osman, “Egypt’s dilemma: Gaza and beyond” (12 January 2009)

Khaled Hroub, “Hamas after the Gaza war” (15 January 2009)

Prince Hassan of Jordan, “The failure of force: an alternative option” (16 January 2009)

Fred Halliday, “The greater middle east: Obama’s six problems” (21 January 2009)

Khaled Hroub, “The ‘Arab system’ after Gaza” (27 January 2009)

Joost R Hiltermann, “Iraq’s elections: winners, losers, and what’s next” (10 February 2009)

Prince Hassan of Jordan, “Palestine’s right: past as prologue” (11 February 2009)

Faisal al Yafai, “What makes the Arabs a people?” (25 February 2009)

Tarek Osman, “Democracy-support and the Arab world: after the fall” (17 March 2009)

Ginny Hill, “Yemen: the weakest link” (31 March 2009)

Zaid Al-Ali, “Lebanon: chronicles of an attempted suicide” (20 May 2009)

Robert G Rabil, “Lebanon at the crossroads” (5 June 2009)

Karim Kasim & Zaid Al-Ali, “The Cairo speech: Arab Muslim voices” (8 June 2009)

Zaid Al-Ali, “Iraq: face of corruption, mask of politics” (2 July 2009)

Fred Halliday, “Yemen: travails of unity” (3 July 2009)

Akiva Eldar, “Iran, the Arabs and Israel: the domino-effect” (27 July 2009)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UPCOMING MEETINGS IN AFRICA: November 2008
African Ministerial Conference on the Financial Crisis: 12 November 2008: Tunis, Tunisia: African Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors are meeting   to discuss the global financial crisis and its potential impacts on African economies.   Organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the Conference aims to mobilize Africans with a view to seeking an answer to the global financial crisis.
For more information, see:   www.afdb.org/portal/page?_pageid=…

African Conference of Ministers in Charge of Environment on Climate Change for post-2012: Algiers, Algiers; 19-20 November 2008: The African Conference of Ministers in Charge of Environment on Climate Change for post 2012 is expected to discuss and adopt outcomes related to: the Bali Action Plan: international Cooperation basis or obligation of the share of commitments; meaning   and scope   of the concepts of ” Comparable efforts” and     “Shared Vision” for developing countries; sectoral approach: impacts and consequences on African countries’   development; and   meaning and scope of the concepts of Measurable, Verifiable and Reportable (M.R.V) for developed and developing countries.
For more information, see: www.unep.org/roa

Meeting of the Executive Committee and Technical Advisory Committee of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW): 24-28 November 2008, Nairobi, Kenya. The AMCOW Executive Committee (AMCOW-EXCO) and the AMCOW Technical Advisory Committee will meet to consider approaches to carrying forward the Sharm El Sheikh Declaration and Commitments on Water and Sanitation (adopted by the African Union Summit, Egypt, June 2008).
For more information, see:   wwww.amcow.org/

Ecological Agriculture: Towards Food Security and Sustainable Rural Development in Africa: 26-28 November 2008, African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This conference is organized by the African Union, UN Food and Agriculture Organization and Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,   in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Development, Ethiopia and Third World Network. The conference aims to raise the awareness of policy makers so that they can enhance the capacity of Africa’s smallholder farmers.
For more information, contact: African Union Commission, Box 3243, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Tel: 251 (11) 552-5844; Fax 251-11-552-5835; E- mail:  ahono_olembo at yahoo.com

Richard Sherman
Programme Manager, Africa Regional Coverage Project
International Institute for Sustainable Development- Reporting Services
300 E 56th   St Apt 11A New York, NY 10022 USA
US Mobile: 646 379 3250
E-mail:  richards at iisd.org
Web: www.iisd.ca/africa
Web: www.climate-l.org

International Institute for Sustainable Development www.iisd.org

Subscribe for free to our publications www.iisd.ca/email/subscribe.htm

——————

Further from IISD:

Dear AFRICASD-L Subscribers;
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), in cooperation with the Secretariat for the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), is pleased to announce the launch of the LAND-L announcement list.

To subscribe to the LAND-L list, please visit www.iisd.ca/email/subscribe.htm

This new distribution list, similar to IISD’s other announcement lists CLIMATE-L, FORESTS-L, WATER-L, CHEMICALS-L, MEA-L, OCEANS-L, ENERGY-L and AFRICASD-L, has been launched in conjunction with the new Comprehensive Communication Strategy of the UNCCD

The purpose of LAND-L is to provide a free, moderated, community communications tool, allowing subscribers to post announcements related to desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) as well as sustainable land management (SLM) events, policy developments, publications and new initiatives. LAND-L is not a discussion list and is limited to non-commercial, non-political announcements.

After signing up for LAND-L at www.iisd.ca/email/subscribe.htm   please check your email folders after subscribing and respond to a confirmation email.

Any subscriber may use this new list to send announcements to the other subscribers on the list by sending emails to  LAND-L at lists.iisd.ca

For assistance in subscribing to LAND-L, please send email to IISD Reporting Services Digital Manager, Diego Noguera, at  diego at iisd.org

———————————————————————-
Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI
Director, IISD Reporting Services
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) — United Nations Office
300 E 56TH ST 11A – New York, NY 10022
Fax: +1 646 219-0955 Mobile phone/SMS: +19172934781
Email:  kimo at iisd.org Skype: kimogoree Blog: www.kimogoree.com
Where:   Istanbul Nov 10-13, NY 15-28, Poznan 29-1 Dec, Rome 2-3

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From:      messouli at gmail.com
Subject: workshop CC
Date: September 14, 2008

The University of Marrakech and its partners (DMN, CDRT, START, OSS), with the support of the Climate Change and Adaptation in Africa program (CCAA), announce a two day international workshop to be held on 25 and 26 of November 2008 in Marrakech. The title of the conference is ” Climate change in the Maghreb: thresholds and limits to adaptation

The overall objective of this conference is to consider strategies for adapting to climate change, in particular to explore the potential barriers to adaptation that may limit the ability of societies in the Maghreb countries to adapt to climate change and to identify opportunities for overcoming these barriers

Deadline for Submission of Abstracts is 10 October 2008.

to register, please go to this link at your soonest convenience and discover other information on the workshop:
 www.ucam.ac.ma/ccam/ccamaccueil.h…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 14th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008, The Japan Times online.

Regarding The Trips to Libya – “Oily Moves to Compensate” by Gwynne Dyer from London.

Libya was the diplomatic crossroads of the planet last weekend: Condoleezza Rice made the first visit by a U.S. secretary of State in 55 years (to discuss a murky deal involving payments to American victims of terrorist attacks allegedly sponsored by Libya); radical Bolivian President Evo Morales showed up (to beg for money or cheap oil); and Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrived to promise Libya $5 billion in compensation for the brutalities of Italian colonial rule.

The U.S. Congress was not impressed. Last Monday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponed hearings on the confirmation of Gene Cretz as the first U.S. ambassador to Libya since 1972.
What bothered the senators was Libya’s delay in paying a promised $1.8 billion in compensation to the families of 180 Americans who died when Pan Am Flight 103 was brought down by a terrorist bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, and of the American soldiers targeted in a 1986 attack on the West Berlin nightclub La Belle (one killed, scores injured).
Western intelligence services blamed both those attacks on Libya’s leader, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi. U.S. aircraft bombed Libya after the 1986 attack, killing some 30 Libyans including Gadhafi’s adopted daughter. Yet the evidence for Libyan involvement is distinctly shaky, and Libya never officially admitted its responsibility. Instead, Libya finally signed a “humanitarian” deal that gives the American families $1.8 billion, but also includes an unstated amount for the Libyan victims of the American air attacks. How very curious.

Details of the deal have been left vague, and nobody will say where the money for the Libyan victims of U.S. airstrikes is coming from. If it is coming from the U.S. government, that would be an interesting precedent. But everybody knows what is really at play here.

The United States worries about the security of its oil supplies and Libya produces oil, so Washington has been seeking a way to end its quarrel with Colonel Gadhafi for a long time. Gadhafi wanted that too, because the U.N. sanctions imposed at Washington’s request were hurting his regime. But since neither government ever apologizes, it took a while.

Gadhafi’s key move was to dismantle his fantasy “nuclear weapons program” — he never really had more than bits and pieces — in 2003. This let President George W. Bush claim that his “war on terror” was scaring the bad guys into behaving better, so the mood music improved immediately. Even before that, Libya sent a couple of low-level intelligence agents to face an international court over the Lockerbie bombing (one was acquitted, one was convicted, and the Libyan regime was scarcely mentioned).



The final compensation deal was signed last month. Condoleezza Rice was in Libya this month partly to show that Gadhafi was no longer in the doghouse — and partly to ask where the money was. That is bothering the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, too, but they shouldn’t worry. Libyan banks take more than a month to transfer even thousands of dollars abroad, let alone billions.

The history behind Silvio Berlusconi’s deal with Gadhafi is much clearer, and so are the motives behind it. Italy conquered Libya, formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, in 1911, and ruled it until 1943. Tens of thousands of Libyans who resisted were killed, many more had their land confiscated and given to Italian settlers, and the country was run for Italy’s benefit, not that of its own people. Italy owes — but why is it paying now, half a century later?

The answer is partly oil — a quarter of Italy’s oil and a third of its gas come from Libya — but also illegal immigrants. Italy is the destination for a growing stream of economic migrants from Africa who use Libya as a jumping-off place for their trip across the Mediterranean, and Berlusconi needs Gadhafi’s cooperation to stem the flow. So Libya gets $5 billion of Italian money to compensate for all the wrongs of the colonial era (and Italy’s compensation will come later, in apparently unrelated deals).

“It is my duty . . . to express to you in the name of the Italian people our regret and apologies for the deep wounds that we have caused you,” Berlusconi said in Benghazi, bowing symbolically before the son of the hero of the Libyan resistance, Omar Mukhtar.

It’s a generous apology, too: $200 million a year on infrastructure projects for 25 years, and if Berlusconi’s cronies in the Italian construction business get the contracts, what’s the harm in that? But we will probably not see him making a similar apology in Mogadishu or Addis Ababa anytime soon.



Libya got off lightly. Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, Italy’s other African colonies, suffered far more from its rule, and are owed far more in compensation. But they have no oil, they are not close to Italy, and they are not going to get it.

If you calculate the amount owed by other former colonial powers at the same per capita rate as Italy did for Libya — around $1,000 per head of the ex-colony’s current population — then France owes Algeria $30 billion, the U.S. owes the Philippines $75 billion, and Britain owes India $1.1 trillion.

But the victims’ heirs shouldn’t spend their money until they actually have it in their hands, and they shouldn’t hold their breaths while waiting.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From:  liasieghart at hotmail.com
Subject: Yemen, cogeneration and the CDM an outline of opportunity
Date: September 4, 2008

The Clean Development Mechanism has been instrumental in the development of a number of cogeneration projects around the world, but none yet in Yemen, where the scope for projects is certainly present. Lia Carol Sieghart looks at the role that cogeneration could play as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the country.
The Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997, at the 3rd Conference of the Parties (COP 3) to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Kyoto, Japan. This treaty significantly bolstered the Convention by committing parties from developed countries, known as Annex 1 Parties, to legally binding limits on GHG emissions. They may also acquire emission reduction credits by taking advantage of the three ‘flexibility mechanisms’ defined under the Protocol.These mechanisms are:

  • International Emissions Trading (IET)
  • Joint Implementation (JI)
  • Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The latter is the only mechanism that involves developing countries. The CDM allows Annex 1 Parties (or entities from those Parties) to invest in project activities that reduce GHG emissions and contribute to sustainable development in non-Annex 1 countries.The CDM has seen an exponential growth since the Kyoto Protocol came into effect in 2005. The end of 2007 provided a milestone with the 100-millionth certified emission reduction credit being issued. In April 2008 the 1000th project, an energy efficiency project, was registered with the Executive Board. At present there are more 3000 projects in the UNFCCC pipeline.Nevertheless, the number of host countries playing a vital role is still very limited. The geographic dispersion of registered projects remains imbalanced. So far the main share of projects is with Asia and Latin America. Most projects are registered with India as a host country, followed by China, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia and Chile. India and China in particular have been early movers and have grasped the investment opportunities provided by the CDM. The vast majority of projects registered are in the energy sector. Taking into consideration the projects under validation and those requesting registration, it seems that this distribution pattern will not change significantly during the first commitment period.

    There are many reasons why the CDM has so far fallen short of its full potential, many of which are country-specific while others are repeatedly reported from various countries. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region 18 countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, but to date only 20 projects have been registered (Table 1). This amounts to ~2 % of the total of registered project activities.

    The MENA Region population comprises about 6% of the total world population, almost equivalent to the population of the European Union. Most MENA countries are experiencing a rapid population growth. The region is economically diverse – the spectrum ranges from oil-rich economies to countries that are resource-scarce in relation to population.

    By 2050, the MENA countries will reach an electricity demand of the same magnitude as Europe (3500 TWh/y). In some of the countries, electricity demand is expected to triple from almost 1500 TWh/y at present to 4100 TWh/y in 2050. Correspondingly, the effects of climate change will become more severe. The fossil fuel-based power sector offers enormous potential for CO2 emission reductions, both through energy efficiency improvements in existing applications as well as utilization of state-of-the-art technology for new capacity additions.

    Given the surging growth in energy demand, the region needs to develop sustainable energy patterns, increase energy accessibility – particularly for marginalized populations in rural areas – and encourage efficient use of energy. Countries need to embark on a less carbon-intensive development path. Utilizing the CDM can provide a vital trigger in this process.

    CHP has a clear opportunity to expand quickly. CHP installations, by combining electricity production with a heat recovery system, provide reliable and cost-effective opportunities for GHG emissions reduction and an important contribution to meeting heat and electricity demand. Cogeneration projects also have the potential to bring energy efficiency measures to large industries in the region, while the MENA oil industry and refinery capacity offers further significant cost-effective potential for heat recovery and cogeneration.

    THE REPUBLIC OF YEMEN

    The Republic of Yemen lies to the south of Saudi Arabia, bounded by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The 2004 census recorded a population of 19.72 million, with an average annual population growth rate of 3.2 % and one of the highest birth rates in the MENA Region. Yemen remains one of the poorest countries in the world, and currently ranks 49 on the UN’s list of the 50 Least Developed Countries. Yemen’s GNI per capita is US$760, compared to, for example, US$12,510 in Saudi Arabia, US$23,990 in the United Arab Emirates and US$9070 in Oman2. According to the Country Social Analysis (2006) by the World Bank the GDP growth rate has been falling steadily in recent years. Inflation has been averaging at almost 12% since 2002, rapidly increasing the cost of living.

    The country, a non-OPEC member, is the smallest oil producer in the Middle East3. Nevertheless, the economy is highly dependent on the oil sector, with the country’s oil exports accounting for approximately 85% of export revenues and 33% of gross domestic product (GDP). Yemen’s energy use relies heavily on fossil fuels. Thus, there is potential to reduce GHG emissions in the energy sector, the oil and refinery industry and in the industrial sector.

    GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS IN YEMEN

    The 2001 First National Communication to the UNFCCC used 1995 as a reference year for Yemen’s GHG emissions inventory due to the high uncertainty of 1994’s information as a result of the April–July 1994 civil war. The total GHG emissions (CO2, CH4, N2O) of the country, in 1995, amounted to 18.7 million tonnes CO2eq, (CO2=11.4 million tonnes, CH4=128,000 and NO2=15,000). Taking CO2 removal into account, the total net emission of CO2 is 845,000 tonnes. These figures are exclusive of the emission from the international bunker (114,350 tonnes CO2) and from combustion of biomass (353,290 tonnes CO2).

    Yemen’s emission profile by gas type for 1995 shows that CO2 accounts for 61% of the total national GHG emissions (113,580 tonnes CO2), N2O 25% (465,700 tonnes CO2eq) and CH4 14% (269,400 tonnes CO2eq). Table 2 shows gas emissions by various sectors.

    If we look at the industrial processes, there are many that create GHG emissions as a by-product of the process itself. Cement production generated the most emissions (99.3%). Other production processes with minor emissions are lime production, limestone use and soda use (food & beverages). The total GHG generated by these processes was estimated at 547,000 tonnes CO2eq, which accounted for 2.92% of the country’s total GHG emissions. The production of cement in Yemen in 1995 was 1,089,000 tonnes that resulted in CO2 emission of 543,000 tonnes CO2eq representing 4.8% of the country’s total CO2 emissions (energy sector, industrial processes etc), while it represents around 2.9% of the total GHGs.

    The CO2 emission from cement production was calculated by multiplying 1995 cement production (1,089,000 tonnes) by the emission factor (0.4985 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of cement produced). The SO2 emitted from cement production was obtained by using an emission factor of 0.3 kg SO2/tonne cement, thus leading to 330 tonnes SO2 in 1995.

    THE YEMENI ENERGY SECTOR

    Yemen’s 100% state-owned Public Electricity Corporation (PEC) formed in 1991, under the Ministry of Electricity, is the sole public utility with the mandate for generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity in the country. The entity operates approximately 80% of the country’s generating capacity as part of the national grid. The remainder is generated by small off-grid suppliers and privately owned generators, predominantly in rural areas4. In urban areas diesel generators are also used as back-up systems. The efficiency of diesel generators can be up to 40%. Electricity demand amounted to 3294 GWh in 2005, an increase of 9.6% annually since 2000.

    The Yemeni population has the lowest access to electricity in the region, with only 53%5 of the total population having access. Of the 72% of the Yemeni population living in rural areas, only 23% have any access to electricity, which compares unfavourably with 85% of the urban population that have access to electricity. Out of this 23%, about 10%–14% is connected to the national grid system while the remainder is estimated to have some access from other sources, typically a diesel generator that operates only a few hours in the evening. Even for those connected to the grid, electricity supply is intermittent, with regular rolling blackouts in most cities.

    Yemen has been experiencing a chronic power supply shortage. An estimate for the electric power deficit in 2006 was 220 MW, a figure that is expected to increase to 250 MW in 2008. With the 2005 increase in diesel prices, the cost of diesel generation has become economically unsustainable thereby significantly increasing the demand for a lower-carbon, more-efficient, lower-cost and reliable energy future.

    The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP, 2003–2005) states the following: ‘Indicators show the failure of electric power in Yemen in keeping pace with demand [is] due to the ageing of the power stations and the distribution networks, which is reflected in the high losses that are currently estimated at about 38%, well above the internationally prevailing levels. This situation prevents the full utilization of machinery and equipment in the different productive and service units, or burdens the private sector facilities with the cost of setting up their own generating plants, not to mention the inability to systematically fulfil domestic lighting requirements. This situation is expected to continue over the medium term due to the increase of demand at high rates, and thus increases the adverse aspects on investment opportunities and the growth of output, income and employment, clearly showing the importance of strategic investment by the private sector in this field.’

    In the industrial sector, power is purchased either from the national grid or off-grid from privately owned diesel generators with poor electrical efficiency ranging from 25% up to 35% especially in light industry. Heavy industry, e.g. the cement sector – the most energy intensive of any industry6, covers its heat needs using boilers fired either by heavy fuel oil or diesel, again with an overall poor fuel efficiency. The main electricity consuming sections in a cement plant are the mills (finish grinding and raw grinding) and the exhaust fans (kiln/raw mill and cement mill) which together account for more than 80% of the total electrical energy usage.7 The separate production of heat and power is an obvious waste of energy. Change is needed by using a range of existing and emerging technologies, particularly in relation to the production and consumption both of heat and electricity.

    The cement industry is considered as one of the main players in the industrial sector. Commercial production started back in 1973 with the launching of the first production line of the Bajil Cement Factory. Cement production is highly competitive, both locally and internationally, so any improvements in production efficiency can result in important increases in competitiveness.8

    Despite 16.9 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven natural gas reserves, a cleaner source of non-renewable energy, heavy fuel oil or diesel-fuelled power generation remains the energy source. Use of natural gas is hampered by the absence of a domestic natural gas infrastructure. On the downstream side there is a crude refining capacity of 130,000 barrels/day from two ageing refineries. The Aden refinery has a capacity of 90,000 to 120,000 barrels/day, while the capacity at the Marib refinery, is 10,000 barrels/day.

    So the challenge for the government is to meet the energy needs of the country in an economic and environmentally sustainable manner. To address this challenge, one approach is to integrate the use of CHP as part of a larger portfolio of low-carbon energy technology solutions. Also the First National Communication under the UNFCCC suggests CHP as a viable measure to reduce GHG emissions and to cope with climate change.

    COGENERATION – AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YEMEN

    The Yemeni electricity sector driven by fossil-fuelled power generation is characterized by a loss of waste heat and a deficient transmission and distribution system resulting in poor net generation. Energy use and efficiency are important factors for economic development and environmental integrity.

    CHP applications could be viable and cost-effective in the Yemeni setting because they:

    • reduce energy-related carbon dioxide emissions
    • provide a decentralized energy source which results in reduced investment in energy system infrastructure
    • reduce transmission and distribution losses.

    Energy-intensive industrial sites such as oil refining, heavy processing (food and textiles) and the cement industry with its simultaneous demand for heat and power, could all benefit. Also the commercial and institutional/residential sectors could match their thermal and electrical needs. CHP application in the commercial/institutional sector could address light manufacturing, hotels, hospitals and large office complexes.

    Despite good potential for CHP, to date no systems are operating in Yemen. The main barriers are: technical, financial, lack of maintenance capacity and awareness, the heavy subsidy of petroleum products and the absence of a domestic natural gas infrastructure – the fuel of choice for most new industrial CHP systems. However, access to reasonably priced and reliable electricity supply systems are an obvious prerequisite for economic stability and development. The development of a strategy for CHP would assist in kick-starting the momentum in Yemen and should include the following elements:

    • identification of projects that could be initially implemented by the public sector and identify pipeline of projects that can be promoted for private sector development
    • formulation of CHP-enabling market
    • elaboration of incentives that attract private investors and lower the costs of electricity generation from CHP applications.

    Coupling GHG emissions abatement with CHP installation would help guide the country’s economic growth to a less carbon-intensive development path. The emission reduction potential makes CHP applications, in principal, eligible for the CDM. In order to qualify for Certified Emission Reductions under the CDM, one needs to address ‘additionality’, ‘permanence’, and ‘leakage’ requirements as well as satisfy sustainable development criteria defined by the country. By gaining CDM support for projects, Yemen could gain access to significant additional flows of technology and finance to assist in achieving a more sustainable, less greenhouse-intensive pathway of development. Also the National Adaptation Programme of Action9 is suggesting CHP systems as an efficient method of power generation and a suitable measure to reduce GHG emissions. Considering a cogeneration project as a CDM project activity would assist in generating emission credits and thereby make the project more feasible.

    RECOMMENDATION AND CONCLUSION

    The CDM is a key model fostering broad engagement in climate change mitigation, and can be used as a means of promoting sustainable development by providing access to improved energy services. The energy sector is a major source of GHG emissions and a critical area for socio-economic development of the country. Yemen has a good potential for cogeneration projects in the industrial, commercial and institutional/residential sectors.

    In keeping with the dual aim of climate protection and sustainable development, the CDM can trigger the installation of CHP systems by removing barriers to implementation of state-of-the art technology in this area. Despite the strong potential of cogeneration for GHG reduction to date there is no installed capacity – project developers often lack the technical and financial capacity to identify projects within their operational activities. Mainstreaming carbon finance into business operations would have a catalytic impact on facilitating CDM project development and consequently assist in the feasibility of cogeneration in Yemen.

    Lia Carol Sieghart is with the Ministry of Water and Environment, DNA Secretariat, Republic of Yemen.
    e-mail: sieghart@yemen.net.ye

    References

    1. Status: 29.03.2008

    2. World Development Indicators database, World Bank, 1 July 2007

    3. Report No.: 34008-YE – Republic of Yemen – Country Social Analysis – January 11, 2006 – Water, Environment, Social and Rural Development Department, Middle East and North Africa Region

    4. Energy Information Administration  www.eia.doe.gov): Yemen – Country Analysis Brief (October 2007)

    5. World Bank and UNDP (2005): Household Energy Supply and Use in Yemen: Volume I, Main Report

    6. WADE (2007): Concrete Energy Savings – Onsite Power in the Cement Industry

    7. IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control). 2001. Reference document on best available techniques in the cement and lime manufacturing industries, European Union.

    8. WADE (2007): Concrete Energy Savings – Onsite Power in the Cement Industry

    9. 2001 First National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

    Cogeneration and On-Site Power Production July, 2008


    To access this article, go to:www.cospp.com/articles/article_display.cfm?ARTICLE_ID=338180&p=122


    Copyright © 2008: PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK; All Rights Reserved.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Libya Preaches to Durban II on Racism Against Maids, as Qaddafi Jr. Arrested for Beating Maids
Published by UN Watch – August 7, 2008
Many newspapers over the past few weeks have reported on Libya’s hostile measures against Switzerland and its citizens. Few, though, have noted the irony of it all, a part of which relates to the United Nations.

The Incident

The conflict began after Hannibal, the youngest son of Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi, and his wife Aline were arrested by Geneva police in their luxury hotel, which is situated next to the UN human rights office. Two of their servants, a Moroccan man and a Tunisian woman, had complained of being beaten with a belt and coat hanger, causing hotel staff to call in the authorities. (The desert despot’s 32-year-old son has a long record of violent run-ins with the law across European capitals.)

The couple were charged with assault. Hannibal spent two evenings in detention while his wife, who came to Geneva to give birth, was transferred to a maternity unit. Released on $500,000 bail, they flew back to Libya escorted by doctors from Geneva’s main hospital.
Qaddafi’s Revenge

Retaliation was swift. Aisha Qadaffi, sister of the accused, warned that her country would respond on the principle of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” The Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution halted all oil shipments to the Helvetic confederation. Swiss companies in Libya, including Nestlé, were shut down or padlocked, and diplomats sent packing. Two Swiss nationals were seized as hostages. “Spontaneous” demonstrations against the Swiss aggressor erupted in the capital.

The outrage has ebbed, but the crisis remains. Today’s Tribune de Geneve reports that Foreign Minster Micheline Calmy-Rey may head on a special mission to Libya. Which bring us to the irony of it all.

Swiss Ironies

Of all Western democracies, the current Swiss government must be the last to ever have imagined being targeted by mad Middle East dictators, who have always felt so at home at Geneva’s hotels, boutiques and banks — so much so, that their spoiled progeny jet over to have their babies born there.

Some say Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey stumbled in her early handling of the current crisis. No wonder. She must have been in a state of shock.

After all, was it not she who, to seal a $28 billion gas deal, recently visited with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at a time when no other self-respecting democratic leader would do the same? Did she not go the extra mile to pose smilingly with the world’s most dangerous fomentor of racist hatred, even donning the Islamic headscarf, for added measure? Did she not keep silent over the brutal human rights situation in Iran, despite being asked to speak out by Shirin Ebadi, the renowned women’s rights advocate?

But it’s more.

The current Swiss government has always profited from special ties with Qaddafi – the extent to which the current episode has highlighted as never before. It turns out that half of Switzerland’s oil comes from Libya. That Libyan company Tamoil owns one of Switzerland’s two oil refineries and runs 320 filling stations in the country. The Libyans also threatened to withdraw their assets from Swiss banks. And how much is that? Some $6 billion.

But it’s more, more than just oil, investments and trade. It’s political and moral support. In the past year, Calmy-Rey and her diplomats worldwide waged a massive campaign to elect her Geneva friend Jean Ziegler — the 1989 co-founder of the “Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize” — as a senior adviser to the UN Human Rights Council. When the vote was won, Swiss UN ambassador Blaise Godet literally embraced his colleague from Cuba’s Castro regime, Ziegler’s other favorite government, thereby revealing another unholy alliance.



This week in Geneva the council’s advisors feted Ziegler at their inaugural session, while choosing as their chair the Cuban Alfonso Martinez — whose long record on a predecessor UN body included killing a resolution for the Kurdish victims gassed by Saddam in Halabja. When the current stand-off was ignited in July, Swiss newspaper Le Matin suggested Ziegler as a natural mediator. “I think Qaddafi appreciates me as a writer and intellectual, because he reads my books which are translated into Arabic in Cairo,” Ziegler told the newspaper. “There is a relationship of mutual respect and listening between us,” said Ziegler, from his place of vacation in Calabria, Italy.

However, the newspaper noted, “the sociologist categorically refuses to comment on the current crisis between Switzerland and Libya.” Nor did Ziegler ever say a word — or lift a finger – over all the years that the Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor were cruelly held hostage in Libyan jails.

Durban II: Libya Pledges to Confront “New Form of Racism Related to Maids”

Perhaps the greatest unspoken irony is that of Libya’s role. The country currently chairs the planning of the April 2009 Durban Review Conference, the UN’s next world conference against racism and intolerance. In advance of an African preparatory session later this month, Libya has just submitted a UN questionnaire on its policies and practices.

Here we learn that the sixth principle of Qaddafi’s Green Charter “defines Libya’s society of non-discrimination.” And that the penal code “does not discriminate between local or foreign workers in Libya.”   And that Article 420 prohibits “all forms of slavery” and “forced labor.” Finally, “Libya does not only not practice racism but we combat the practice of regimes against the African people.” How? By confronting — get this — a “new form of racism related to house helpers (maids).” No less.

Yes, over the next year the world shall look to the Guide of the Revolution to guide us all on how to treat foreigners, how to practice tolerance, and — as its most shining example — how to treat house helpers and maids.

Meanwhile, in Libya, the mother of the abused Moroccan servant has been thrown into jail, and his brother forced into hiding.

Eventually, a deal will be struck, Calmy-Rey will kowtow before Qaddafi, the criminal case will be closed. Hannibal will then be free to return to his beloved Lake Geneva playground.

As Libya’s leading expert on how to address what it calls a new form of racism — how to treat house helpers — why not have Hannibal Qaddafi take the place of the current Libyan represenative and personally head the UN’s Durban II process? More than anyone, he will appreciate the job’s diplomatic immunity.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 24th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Solar power from Saharan sun could provide Europe’s electricity, says EU.

  • Huge £35bn supergrid would pool green sources
  • Brown and Sarkozy back north African plan

Alok Jha, science correspondent
The Guardian, Wednesday July 23, 2008

solar460×276.jpg
A concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in Spain that uses panels to refl ect light on to a central tower to produce electricity. Similar plants are proposed for north Africa. Photograph: AP

A tiny rectangle superimposed on the vast expanse of the Sahara captures the seductive appeal of the audacious plan to cut Europe’s carbon emissions by harnessing the fierce power of the desert sun.

Dwarfed by any of the north African nations, it represents an area slightly smaller than Wales but scientists claimed yesterday it could one day generate enough solar energy to supply all of Europe with clean electricity.

Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum in Barcelona, Arnulf Jaeger-Walden of the European commission’s Institute for Energy, said it would require the capture of just 0.3% of the light falling on the Sahara and Middle East deserts to meet all of Europe’s energy needs.

The scientists are calling for the creation of a series of huge solar farms – producing electricity either through photovoltaic cells, or by concentrating the sun’s heat to boil water and drive turbines – as part of a plan to share Europe’s renewable energy resources across the continent.

A new supergrid, transmitting electricity along high voltage direct current cables would allow countries such as the UK and Denmark ultimately to export wind energy at times of surplus supply, as well as import from other green sources such as geothermal power in Iceland.

Energy losses on DC lines are far lower than on the traditional AC ones, which make transmission of energy over long distances uneconomic.

The grid proposal, which has won political support from both Nicholas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown, answers the perennial criticism that renewable power will never be economic because the weather is not sufficiently predictable. Its supporters argue that even if the wind is not blowing hard enough in the North Sea, it will be blowing somewhere else in Europe, or the sun will be shining on a solar farm somewhere.

Scientists argue that harnessing the Sahara would be particularly effective because the sunlight in this area is more intense: solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in northern Africa could generate up to three times the electricity compared with similar panels in northern Europe.

Much of the cost would come in developing the public grid networks of connecting countries in the southern Mediterranean, which do not currently have the spare capacity to carry the electricity that the north African solar farms could generate. Even if high voltage cables between North Africa and Italy would be built or the existing cable between Morocco and Spain would be used, the infrastructure of the transfer countries such as Italy and Spain or Greece or Turkey also needs a major re-structuring, according to Jaeger-Walden.

Southern Mediterranean countries including Portugal and Spain have already invested heavily in solar energy and Algeria has begun work on a vast combined solar and natural gas plant which will begin producing energy in 2010. Algeria aims to export 6,000 megawatts of solar-generated power to Europe by 2020.

Scientists working on the project admit that it would take many years and huge investment to generate enough solar energy from north Africa to power Europe but envisage that by 2050 it could produce 100 GW, more than the combined electricity output from all sources in the UK, with an investment of around €450bn.

Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, welcomed the proposals: “Assuming it’s cost-effective, a largescale renewable energy grid is just the kind of innovation we need if we’re going to beat climate change.”

Jaeger-Walden also believes that scaling up solar PV by having large solar farms could help bring its cost down for consumers. “The biggest PV system at the moment is installed in Leipzig and the price of the installation is €3.25 per watt,” he said. “If we could realise that in the Mediterranean, for example in southern Italy, this would correspond to electricity prices in the range of 15 cents per kWh, something below what the average consumer is paying.”

The vision for the renewable energy grid comes as the commission’s joint research centre (JRC) published its strategic energy technology plan, highlighting solar PV as one of eight technologies that need to be championed for the short- to medium-term future.

“It recognises something extraordinary – if we don’t put together resources and findings across Europe and we let go the several sectors of energy, we will never reach these targets,” said Giovanni de Santi, director of the JRC, also speaking in Barcelona.

The JRC plan includes fuel cells and hydrogen, clean coal, second generation biofuels, nuclear fusion, wind, nuclear fission and smart grids. De Santi said it was designed to help Europe to meet its commitments to reduce overall energy consumption by 20% by 2020, while reducing CO ² emissions by 20% in the same time and increasing to 20% the proportion of energy generated from renewable sources.

Backstory

High voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines are seen as the most efficient way to move electricity over long distances without incurring the losses experienced in alternating current (AC) power lines. HVDC cables can carry more power for the same thickness of cable compared with AC lines but are only suited to long distance transmission as they require expensive devices to convert the electricity, usually generated as AC, into DC. Modern HVDC cables can keep energy losses down to around 3% per 1,000km. HVDC can also be used to transfer electricity between different countries that might use AC at differing frequencies. HVDC cables can also be used to synchronise AC produced by renewable energy sources.

———————-

Other topics noted as Environment in The Guardian:
Solar power · Wind power · Wave, tidal and hydropower · Renewable energy · Alternative energy · Energy

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 14th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

This WEEK in the European Union
ELITSA VUCHEVA, EUobserver, 04.07.2008 @ 15:34 CET

EUOBSERVER / AGENDA (6 – 13 July) – Next week will be marked by the launch of the EU’s Union for the Mediterranean, as well as by French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s presentation in the European Parliament of his priorities for France’s six-month EU presidency.

The Mediterranean Union was proposed by France last year to boost ties with the EU’s southern neighbours, and its official launch is planned to take place during a summit in Paris on Sunday (13 July).

ecbe5b9960f2.png

The launch of the Mediterranean Union in Paris is expected to be one of the cornerstones of the French EU presidency. (Photo: French presidency of the EU)

It is a major project of the French presidency and the brainchild of Mr Sarkozy – but its initial version was met with opposition by some member states and was eventually watered down.
The Mediterranean Union (officially: “Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean”) is still seen with scepticism by many analysts.

Additionally, it is not yet clear who exactly will attend the Paris summit on Sunday.

Leaders of all 27 EU members, plus 17 Mediterranean states, have been invited to the event, but some countries, including Algeria and Turkey, have still to decide whether they will accept the invitation or not. Meanwhile Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, who has spoken out strongly against the idea, has said he would not go.

Before hosting the launch of the project and the celebrations in Paris, Mr Sarkozy will pass by Strasbourg on Thursday (10 July), where he will present the priorities of his country’s EU presidency to MEPs gathered for their monthly plenary session.

Parliament plenary in Strasbourg

The deputies will also host European Central Bank (ECB) president Jean-Claude Trichet on Wednesday (9 July) for a debate on the parliament’s annual report on the ECB, following the bank’s decision to raise interest rates and in a global context of rising prices.

On Wednesday, MEPs will also debate and vote on a report on the EU’s future enlargement strategy, stressing that the bloc’s own capacity to absorb new states should be taken into account when considering membership applications in the future.

The report – which also says the EU will respect the commitments it has already taken, was approved by MEPs in the parliament’s foreign affairs committee on 24 June.

Other issues on the parliamentarians’ agenda will include a first-reading vote on the EU’s energy package, in particular on the part focusing on gas unbundling – or the extent to which gas suppliers should be separated from gas distribution networks – on Wednesday, preceded by a debate on the issue on Tuesday.

They will also debate on Tuesday in a second reading and vote on a plan to include aviation in the EU’s emissions trading system; a package of reforms to EU rules on food additives; and rules on airline ticket pricing that aims to do away with the annoyance of hidden taxes and charges in online ticket pricing.

On Thursday, MEPs will also vote on resolution on Zimbabwe and China, preceded by debates with the commission and the EU presidency on Wednesday.


G8 summit in Tokyo

This week (7 – 9 July), leaders of the group of eight largest economies in the world – US, Canada, Russia, Japan, the UK, Germany, Italy and France, collectively referred to as the G8 – will meet in Tokyo to discuss, among other things, the challenge of climate change and increasing concerns about global inflation, which is being driven by soaring oil and food prices.

With only a few days left before the summit, World Bank president Robert Zoellick this week called on the G8 leaders to act immediately to address the issue of increasing food prices, calling the crisis “a man-made catastrophe … [that] must be fixed by people.”

Meanwhile, the European Commission will on Monday (7 July) present a proposal to change the current directive on value added tax (VAT) in the EU, so as to allow member states to apply reduced VAT on a permanent basis in some sectors.

On Tuesday, the EU executive is to adopt a package aiming to make transport greener; a proposal for a School Fruit Scheme with the goal of increasing the share of fruit and vegetables in the diets of children at school; and two communications on the situation in the fisheries sector following the surge in oil prices.

On the same day, the commission will present a proposal for a special financing tool to help farmers from poorest countries boost their food production in the context of soaring food prices.

According to press reports, Brussels is to offer €1 billion from the EU’s unspent agriculture funds to achieve this goal.

————

As Summit Approaches, G-8 Weighs Expansion


By Joseph Coleman, Associated Press, Saturday, July 5, 2008.

TOKYO — The Group of Eight, holding its summit in Japan starting Monday, has always been a club for the world’s biggest economies. Now a growing chorus is saying it’s time that the clubhouse doors swing open to some newcomers.

China has eclipsed more than half the club’s members in economic size, and the gross domestic product of Brazil is larger than Russia’s.

“When do they move from the G-8 to the G-13?” asked Lael Brainard of the Brookings Institution, a Washington public policy organization. “None of these problems can be solved without the participation of countries like China, India, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa.”

Indeed, the G-8’s grip on the world economy isn’t what it used to be.

The United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia accounted for 58 percent of the world economy at current prices in 2007, International Monetary Fund figures show — down from 65 percent in 1997.

China’s $3.4 trillion economy is the fourth-largest in the world, nipping at the heels of No. 3 Germany. Brazil has the 10th-largest economy, just behind Canada but ahead of Russia. After Russia awaits fast-growing India.

It’s not only raw economics. The five nations mentioned by Brainard include serious military powers and the world’s two most populous nations, China and India.

It wouldn’t be the first time the G-8 has changed its membership.

The group held its initial summit in France in 1975 with six members: the United States, Britain, France, West Germany, Italy and Japan. Canada came on board the following year. Russia formally joined in 1997.

In recent years, as G-8 countries have struggled to address the concerns of the rest of the world, such as poverty in Africa, the list of summit participants has ballooned, though the core nations still hold exclusive meetings.

A total of 22 heads of government — eight from the members, seven from Africa and seven from other leading economies — will be at the summit in Japan.

Members themselves are split over whether they need to formally open the group to new entrants.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been outspokenly in favor, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown also supports expansion.

“It is in our interest to put them at the negotiating table, to treat them like partners and to put them face to face with their obligations,” Sarkozy told the French-Japan Club in November.

Others are not so sure. Japan, which has long basked in the honor of being the G-8’s only Asian member, has repeatedly shrugged off suggestions of expansion in the weeks leading up to the summit.

Then there’s the question of democracy.

John Kirton, director of the G-8 research group at the University of Toronto, has argued that the summit’s founding principles included promotion of open democracy. By that criteria, China does not meet requirements for membership, he has written.

—————

Sarkozy beaming at birth of Mediterranean Union.

ELITSA VUCHEVA, July 14, 2008, EUOBSERVER / PARIS – France officially announced the launch of the Union for the Mediterranean on Sunday (13 July) – the brainchild of its president Nicolas Sarkozy, who did not hide his pride in seeing the project’s official birth.

“We had dreamt of it. The Union for the Mediterranean is now a reality,” a visibly content Mr Sarkozy told journalists in Paris after a four-hour long working session with leaders of the countries members of the Union.

The project – under its official name Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean – regroups 43 states, including all EU members, and will be co-presided over by one EU and one Mediterranean country – currently Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, and Mr Sarkozy himself.

The goal is to boost ties between the EU and its southern neighbours, while the aim of the co-presidency will be to “improve the balance and the joint ownership” of the Union, reads the final declaration adopted by the 43 leaders.

Some critics of the project however had accused European states of wanting to dominate their southern partners.

But “north and south will be on an equal footing … We have exactly the same rights, exactly the same obligations,” said the French president during the opening of the summit.

Details of the Union for the Mediterranean’s institutional structure are still to be sorted out, but it will have a Joint Permanent Committee based in Brussels that will assist in the preparation of meetings of senior officials; and a joint Secretariat – whose “political mandate,” location, as well as the nationality of its director, are to be decided by the Union’s foreign ministers, who will meet in November.

A Union for the Mediterranean high-level summit will take place once every two years, while its foreign ministers will meet once a year.

Central parts of Paris were blocked off on Sunday and the city was under high surveillance, as some 18,000 policemen were mobilised to co-ordinate the 43 leaders’ security.

The only one who was invited but declined to attend was Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi – an outspoken opponent of the project, while the kings of Morocco and Jordan did not come, but instead sent representatives.

“Concrete projects:”

The leaders unanimously adopted a declaration deciding to work on six “concrete projects” as initial activities, Mr Sarkozy said.

1-3 The new grouping will address the cleaning up of Mediterranean pollution; development of maritime and land highways; or setting up a joint civil protection programme on prevention and response to disasters.

4. The yet to be established Secretariat will also aim to “explore the feasibility, development and creation of a Mediterranean Solar Plan,” looking into solar energy as an alternative source of energy.

5. A Euro-Mediterranean University, whose seat will be somewhere in Slovenia, hopes to “contribute to the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean Higher Education, Science and Research area.”

6. Additionally, a so-called Mediterranean Business Development Initiative will support small and medium-sized enterprises.

However, criticism has already been raised about some controversial issues – such as immigration – being left out of the Union’s scope at this stage.

A diplomatic success?

But the project’s overarching goal is to progressively lead to peace in the Middle East, Mr Sarkozy said.

Conflicts in the region are seen as the main reason preventing the Barcelona Process – an initiative started in 1995 with similar ambitions to the new project – from achieving significant results.

On Sunday, “over the course of four hours, everybody was there. Everybody spoke, discussed and agreed [on things] … If it is possible during four hours, if we could agree on all these projects, we will continue, we will go further,” Mr Sarkozy told the press, stressing there had been no incidents at the summit, despite the tense relations between some of the leaders, and said he already saw a chance for peace from this first meeting.

Prior to his statement, Israel’s premier, Ehud Olmert, said Israeli and Palestinians had never been so close to reaching a peace agreement as now.

Furthermore, the French president announced on Saturday that Syria and Lebanon had agreed to establish diplomatic relations – an act he called “historic”.

Relations between the two countries have been particularly tense since the assassination of Lebanon’s former premier, Rafiq Hariri, in April 2005 – followed by Syria’s troops’ forced withdrawal from Lebanon.

Damascus has denied any involvement in Mr Hariri’s killing, but a number of UN inquiries have suggested that Syrian and Lebanese intelligence forces had played some role in the assassination.

“Our position is that there is no problem with the opening of embassies between Syria and Lebanon … If Lebanon is willing to exchange embassies, we have no objections to doing it,” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was quoted as saying by French news agency AFP.

But the two countries must “define the steps to take to arrive at this stage” before mutual recognition, he stressed.

Observers have adopted a cautious approach however, insisting that many things have been said about peace in the region over the years and one should wait for concrete results before claiming success.

At the summit, Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister, warned: “The world is not going to be changed by the meeting today,” reported AFP. “But the entire region will, hopefully, be changed over time by this particular approach,” he added.

————————

Sarkozy revels in Club Med ‘bringer of peace’ role.
By John Lichfield in Paris, For The Independent, Monday, 14 July 2008.

France gathers world leaders for Bastille Day parade РLes Fran̤ais sont arriv̩s.

A gargantuan summit of European and Middle Eastern leaders in Paris has produced a series of breakthroughs and diplomatic coups for the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Israel agreed to release prisoners to smooth the way for a new peace settlement with the Palestinian Authority. Syria promised to establish normal relations with Lebanon for the first time in 65 years. Perhaps most startling of all, a Syrian president and an Israeli prime minister sat in the same room, and at the same table, for the first time. However, the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, managed to vanish from the room before the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, gave his setpiece speech.

It remains to be seen whether the Sarkozy-inspired, 43-nation “Union for the Mediterranean”, launched yesterday, will suffer the same fate as previous botched efforts to establish formal links between Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The success of the inaugural summit suggests the new “Club Med” – dismissed by some as just another talking shop – might finally allow Europe to become a serious player in the game of Middle East peace.

Middle Eastern leaders joined their EU counterparts, including Gordon Brown, to discuss practical co-operation on issues such as energy, pollution, climate change and immigration. War and peace were not on the formal agenda but the unprecedented gathering provided an opportunity, and impetus, for deal-making between perennially hostile neighbours.

Mr Olmert, under increasing domestic pressure from allegations of corruption, held pre-summit talks in Paris yesterday morning with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. M. Sarkozy also attended.

Afterwards, Mr Olmert said that the two sides had “never been as close to the possibility of reaching an accord as we are today”. Israeli officials said that Mr Olmert was ready to release an unspecified, but large, number of Palestinian prisoners to help to achieve a settlement with Mr Abbas, on the permanent boundaries of the West Bank (Jerusalem excepted).
The leaders of 40 nations were shielded behind a protective “ring of steel”, with large parts of one of the world’s most visited cities out of bounds to the public. More than 6,000 police officers were mobilised to defend the no-go zone in a swathe of central Paris on both banks of the Seine. Neither tourists nor non-resident Parisians were allowed into an area of more than one square kilometre.

On Saturday, M. Sarkozy brokered a meeting between the Syrian President, Mr Assad, and the Lebanese President, Michel Suleiman. Damascus, which has long been accused of treating Lebanon as a de facto colony, agreed to establish normal government-to-government and diplomatic relations with Beirut for the first time since Lebanese independence in 1943.

The Israeli Prime Minister and Syrian President took their seats in the vast summit chamber in the sprawling, glass-roofed Grand Palais exhibition hall, just off the Champs Elysées. They did not exchange a handshake or a word or establish eye-contact. All the same, this was, as President Sarkozy pointed out, “a historic event”: the first time that Syrian and Israeli leaders had consented to be in the same room.

The “Union for the Mediterranean”, linking the 27 European Union member states, and 16 nations on the southern and eastern rims of the Med, is not what President Sarkozy first intended. He wanted an organisation which united only those countries with a Mediterranean coast-line. Germany and Spain objected. President Sarkozy – currently president of the EU council – agreed to merge his idea with an existing, and largely moribund, EU-Mediterranean association launched in Barcelona in 1995.

The new Union for the Mediterranean will attempt to set up common approaches to, among other things, global warming, investment, solar energy, water shortages, illegal immigration, maritime pollution, road and sea transport and university exchange programmes.

President Sarkozy said, in his opening speech to the summit, that this was an attempt to emulate the nuts-and-bolts approach of the original European Common Market. Age-old national quarrels and hatreds would be doused in debate and co-operation on vital issues of everyday importance. “The European and the Mediterranean dreams are inseparable,” he said. “We will build peace in the Mediterranean together, like yesterday we built peace in Europe … We will succeed together; or we will fail together.”

The Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, the co-chairman of the summit with M. Sarkozy, stressed the importance of progress on practical, everyday issues as “building blocks” for peace.

The inaugural summit owed its success partly to President Sarkozy’s energy and vision – and partly to luck. Officials pointed out that several favourable factors came together: the diplomatic vacuum created by the change of administration in the US; the Israeli Prime Minister’s domestic political crisis, which made him hungry for progress with the Palestinians; and the Syrian President’s strategic decision to reduce his country’s diplomatic isolation.

All the same, the summit will go down as a diplomatic and political triumph for President Sarkozy: perhaps the most important single event in his 14 months in the Elysée Palace.

But Syrian and Israeli Leaders did not see eye-to-eye:

The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert looked his way, but Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad avoided any eye contact when the two leaders attended a summit that had stirred expectations of a first, friendly encounter.

The men were among more than 40 leaders gathered in Paris for the EU-Mediterranean summit and it was the first time they had ever been in the same room together.

Although Syria recently revived indirect negotiations with its long-time foe, President Assad clearly considered it was too soon to shake hands, chat or even nod to Mr Olmert.

As Mr Olmert entered the main hall of the Grand Palais, a Reuters photographer captured him casting glances toward the tall Syrian leader. But Mr Assad turned away, raising one hand to his face as if to block off any eye contact with the Israeli.

Mr Assad skirting the far wall, where interpreters sat in plexiglass booths, as Mr Olmert turned to talk to another delegate. The Syrian leader had left the room byt the time Mr Olmert gave his speech. A seating chart showed Mr Olmert had been assigned a place almost directly opposite Mr Assad for the round-table discussion.

Earlier yesterday, the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid al-Mouallem, attended talks at which his Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Livni, was also present. He did not speak to her and left the room when she got up to speak. Reuters

Damascus has denied any involvement in Mr Hariri’s killing, but a number of UN inquiries have suggested that Syrian and Lebanese intelligence forces had played some role in the assassination.

“Our position is that there is no problem with the opening of embassies between Syria and Lebanon … If Lebanon is willing to exchange embassies, we have no objections to doing it,” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was quoted as saying by French news agency AFP.

But the two countries must “define the steps to take to arrive at this stage” before mutual recognition, he stressed.

Observers have adopted a cautious approach however, insisting that many things have been said about peace in the region over the years and one should wait for concrete results before claiming success.

At the summit, Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister, warned: “The world is not going to be changed by the meeting today,” reported AFP. “But the entire region will, hopefully, be changed over time by this particular approach,” he added.

——————–

sarkozy_abbas_olmert_38247a.jpg
France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, centre, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,

right, attend a meeting at the Elysee Palace

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 28th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From:  rcervigni at worldbank.org
Subject: Climate Change in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – New World Bank web site.
Date: June 27, 2008

We are pleased to announce the launch of the World Bank web site on climate change in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).

The site contains information on ongoing and planned World Bank activities aimed at helping MENA countries enhance their resilience to Climate Change, and move to a low carbon development path.

The URL for the site is: www.worldbank.org/mena/climatecha…

Raffaello Cervigni
Senior Natural Resource Economist
Regional Coordinator, Climate Change
Sustainable Development Sector Department (MNSSD)
Middle East and North Africa Region
The World Bank
Room H 8-225
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20433 USA
Office: 202 458 8473
Fax: 202 614 1688
Cell Phone: 202 378 4432
E-mail:  rcervigni at worldbank.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Algeria unimpressed by Sarkozy’s Med union as per www.theparliament.com/press-revie…

French prime minister François Fillon has failed to convince Algerian leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika to take part in the inaugural meeting of the union for the Mediterranean during a visit to the country, Le Monde reports.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy will launch his revitalised partnership on 13 July in Paris, but Bouteflika will not attend, at least no until he receives more detailed information about the project he described as “wishy washy”.
Algeria is concerned that Sarkozy’s project will force it to recognise Israel, and Bouteflika is also annoyed that his country will have no particular status within the union: Egypt will be vice president, Morocco will host the secretariat and Tunisia the headquarters of the organisation.

Libyan president Muammar Gadaffi is the only African leader who has so far declined to attend, calling the idea an “affront” to the southern nations.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

OK, the UN has no power to put people in jail – but it does have enough power to squish information channels. As we were not in the room – the UN restricts the participation of folks looking into its activities, we have to rely on the only truly free soul reporting from that meeting and about the atmosphere surrounding that meeting – that is we rely on the reporting by InnerCityPress.

Also, in order to toot our own horn, please refer also to previous articles on www.SustainabiiTank.info:

Japan Foreign Ministry Will Teach Senior Officials How To Handle Foreign Press. This Because It Sees Any Press As A Potential Tool To Disseminate The Government’s Information As A Tool Of A PR Office.
Monday, March 24th, 2008
Posted in Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York, Real World’s News, Japan |

The Washington DC Panel on the UN and Its Problematic Rapport With The Reporters For The Global Press: Reflections on The Way the UN Squashes Information – Occurrences That May Have Covered Corruption. And Who Asked Google To Take Matthew Off Google News? What Tripped Nicolas Michel?
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
Posted in Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York, Reporting from Washington DC, Real World’s News, Geneva, Vienna, New York |

But we will have also our own reporting as we went to the second day of this Committee’s meeting – we will update this posting accordingly.

Dissonance at UN Information Meeting, Bragging of Outreach While Web Sites Are Blocked

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, April 28, 2008 — What should be the role of the UN’s Department of Public Information? To provide truthful information and answers about the UN’s operations? Or to reflexively defend the Organization, and to produce documentaries about world problems that barely mention the UN, and certainly do not criticize it?

The UN’s Committee on Information met all day on Monday, but the above questions were not answered. While various of the speeches called for greater high-tech deployment by the UN, during the Algerian delegate’s speech, the audio system played heavy feedback. At Monday’s noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe about reports of viruses on the UN’s web site. An answer was inserted later into the transcript, that Inner City Pres was informed that

“there was a very minor breach on a relatively less used portion of the United Nations website (the United Nations events calendar). This was very quickly detected, contained and rectified. The incident is being analyzed in cooperation with the Information Technology Services Division.”

That unit is involved in blocking from view within the UN web sites such as “GlobalCompactCritics.net” and “DailyMotion.com,” as Inner City Press exclusively reported earlier this month. One of the listed participants, the spokeswoman for UNESCO, has twice declined to response to requests to comment on the UN’s own censorship, in the run-up to World Press Freedom Day on May 1. And on the viruses, outside (and independent) observers offer the free advise that all is not fixed, click here for that (and this —

un1patched.jpg
UN on the web, photo composite, GlobalCompactCritics.net not shown

There are many hard-working and well-meaning UN media workers. But other than in cliches, that work was not reflected in Monday’s Committee on Information meeting. A lengthy presentation was given about the UN’s Information Center in Mexico City, following which a delegate from a media-savvy country told Inner City Press, “That was a perfect example of how not to present information.” He seemed surprised to see any media coverage of the meeting. French spokesman Axel Cruau said, “You can quote me on this — finally for the first time the press shows an interest in the committee on information!” But the underlying topics, if not the presentations, are deserving of attention.

Can the UN look critically at itself? Inner City Press has asked this question with respect to a UN Television series called “21st Century,” about which it has been waiting for answers to written follow-up questions for a week. In a second and so far last response, DPI’s Susan Farkas defended that show as “using existing resources that were diverted from productions like the English-language talk show World Chronicle, which was attracting a miniscule audience.” Requests for actual viewership numbers have yet to be answered. Nor about other uses of money — but we’ll continue to wait to report on this.

The World Chronicle show, while low-tech, involved discussion at times of problems at and of the UN. 21st Century, on the other hand, even in covering the issue of rape in Haiti, did not mention that UN peacekeepers there have been accused of sexual abuse of under-aged girls. Perhaps such coverage is not the role of, or allowable by, DPI. But then how can its shows be labeled “accurate and balanced”? And since 21st Century itself shows dead bodies, some of them face-up, how could the UN’s DPI criticize independent journalists for making similar editorial decisions? Ms. Farkas to her credit has offered to sit down to discuss these issues — she said Monday was no good, due ironically to the Committee on Information meeting — and we will report more on them.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 2nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

A victory for Matthew Russell Lee, the best journalist accredited with the UN, a person who knows to ask the right questions and does not allow the UN to get away with murder.

As we reported in www.sustainabilitank.info/2008/02… question of soft porn being sold at the UN was brought up by Matthew Lee on February 25, 2008:

Soft Porn Sold in UN Lobby, Despite Gender Advisor’s Complaints to UN Management.

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, February 25 — As the UN on Monday launched its Campaign to End Violence Against Women, in the lobby of UN Headquarters, soft porn remained for sale. At the newsstand next to the elevator to the Secretary-General’s offices on the building’s 38th floor, titles such as Curve and Smooth and King, along with Dirty South, were on display, with oiled-up women vamping for the camera.

Following a press conference at noon at which time apparently did not permit Inner City Press to ask this question despite a hand raised high throughout the question and answer period, the question was put to the UN’s Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, Assistant Secretary-General Rachel N. Mayanja. “I am glad you are raising it,” she told Inner City Press. “I am very appalled. I had already raised it to the Department of Management and had been assured they were going to ask them to take it down.”

Inner City Press asked how long ago the request had been made to the Department of Management, headed by Under Secretary General Alicia Barcena. “At least six months ago,” Ms. Mayanja said. “I am going to go back to them. It should be removed.”

While the sale of soft porn on the newsstand in the United Nations lobby may raise First Amendment issues, it appears to be the UN’s position that while the UN is in the United States, it is international territory to which the U.S. Constitution does not apply. Perhaps then it is Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that has constrained the UN from removing the pornography from the newsstand it licenses in its lobby. Recently, the Department of Management and Ms. Barcena have had no problem condemning journalistic coverage of a death at the UN as causing “complete shock and outrage,” as being “insensitive” and “clearly transgress[ing] accepted boundaries of professional journalism.” Soft porn which the UN’s own Special Adviser on Gender Issues six months ago asked the Department of Management to have removed, however, has generated no such shock or outrage within the Department of Management, nor apparently even a letter to the newsstand.

Now four days later the UN did react indeed. See www.innercitypress.com/un3genders…

Disputed Soft Porn Quietly Removed from UN Lobby, “They Told Us to Take It Down”

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, February 29 — Four days after the sale of soft porn in the UN lobby was first covered by Inner City Press, and two days after the UN defended the titles then on sale, the publications Smooth and King were removed from the UN newsstand. In their place were the fashion publications Elle and Vogue.

Asked where the soft porn had gone, the newsstand attendant said forlornly, “They came and told us to take them down.” What a difference two days make.

On February 27, UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe responded to Inner City Press:

Subj: answer to your question on newsstand.
From: Marie Okabe at un.org
To: Inner City Press
Date: 2/27/2008 11:39:39 AM Eastern Standard Time

The newsstand in the Secretariat Lobby is managed by Hudson News, through a contract with the United Nations Secretariat. The Contractor, as a matter of policy, does not display or sell “soft core magazines” such as Penthouse, Playboy, or Hustler that are known for soft pornographic materials. As to other magazines, the Contractor reviews them as they come in, and if there is material that may be offensive they do not display or sell the magazine at the United Nations. The Contractor does not display magazines that feature nude pictures.

This being said, it is very difficult to define a culturally uniform standard of what is offensive and what is not. The general guideline – beyond magazines that clearly specialize in this kind of material – is to try to avoid any kind of material that displays nude shots or similar material.

The Department of Management has been in contact with Hudson News and reinforced the importance of keeping a watchful eye on this.

But then Matthew Lee’s final comments:

But there were apparently further contacts after this message, and the resulting article. Due to the UN’s lack of transparency, it is unclear if the Department of Management had a change of heart after Wednesday, or if the UN’s Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, Assistant Secretary-General Rachel N. Mayanja, finally acted on the outrage she on Monday told Inner City Press she has felt about the magazines for six months. “I am very appalled,” she said. “I had already raised it to the Department of Management and had been assured they were going to ask them to take it down.”

And that is why we find it important to post this. It is not just an issue of soft porn in the building of the UN headquarters even though the institution wants us to believe that they are serious about gender issues. It is also this aspect of defensiveness and cover-up by staff that work in counter purpose to the intended purposes of the UN.

This case showed once more – how when the issue was raised, the first instinct by the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General was to pass the buck. Then it took two more days to do quietly the right thing.

Now why did I say they can get away with murder? clearly this is by way of exaggeration, but the two Austrian human bodies that were removed from the UN a week ago, are a case in point. I learned from other journalists that both cases still remain “unclear.” In the case of Hans Janitschek, in spite of a UN official release that his heart attack was cared for satisfactorily to the UN, it seems that incompetence and delays are rather more accurate descriptions. Will there be a reconciliation of the different stories in this matter? Or the UN staff just rules according to an internal logic and private conscience?

Then, How does it happen that UN Personnel gets killed in Algeria after a local UNDP Officer asked the Algerians to improve security conditions at the UN compound, and the UN could not find another investigator of the issue then Algerian Lakhdar Brahimi, probably imposed because of deference to the Algerian government’s wishes? Now, seemingly,instead of investigating the Algerian case he moves to more global issues. Will the families of those that died in Algiers find out if it was UN negligence or Algerian negligence – and what was the proportion in the total amount of negligence?

**Brahimi Panel

Lakhdar Brahimi, the Chair of the Independent Panel on Safety and Security of UN Personnel and Premises, today, February 28, 2008, announced five other members of the Panel that he leads. They are: Elsayed Ibrahim Elsayed Mohamed Elhabbal of Egypt; Anil Kumar Gupta of India; Umit Pamir of Turkey; Thomas Boy Sibande of South Africa; and Margareta Wahlström of Sweden. Mr. Brahimi said that the Panel would take a critical look at the security situation for the United Nations, prompted by the 11 December attack last year in Algiers, and that it would examine the current and potential capability to provide safety and security for UN staff and premises worldwide. We have more information about the Panel members and its work upstairs. And it’s certain most of you were at the press conference earlier today.
Question:   Thanks a lot.   I really appreciate this, it’s the news of the day.   There was a question raised about whether there will be a seventh Panel member.   And then somebody asked whether the Staff Union presented a letter.   They feel they should have some representation on the Panel.   Is that something the Secretary-General is considering?

Spokesperson:   This is Mr. Brahimi’s…   You’re asking that question?

Question:   Is he the one?   Did he choose the other Panel members or did the Secretary-General?

Spokesperson:   He chose them, of course in agreement with the Secretary-General.

Question:   What is the Secretary-General’s response to the Staff Union letter raising concerns about the process and their involvement in it?

Spokesperson:   I don’t have an answer at this point.

Question:   As a follow-up to that question, in deciding to assign Mr. Brahimi to this task, what sort of deliberation process did the Secretary-General make in making that appointment in the first place?

Spokesperson:   As you know, Mr. Brahimi has a very distinguished career at the UN and he has done a number of investigative reports for the United Nations.   So, it’s a choice the Secretary-General made after considering different possibilities.

Question:   We’ve all read some of Mr. Brahimi’s reports, they’re very seminal pieces on peacekeeping and things like that, so it’s clear that he definitely is a person held in high esteem at the UN.   But as part of the investigation, there will be some processes in which they’ll be looking at how the Algerian Government responded to the security concerns and, since Mr. Brahimi is certainly not an outsider to the Algerian leadership and Government, historically, is that something the Secretary-General was concerned with?

Spokesperson:   The Secretary-General thinks Mr. Brahimi has always been an extremely objective observer of situations and he’s certainly a very qualified person to lead that Panel.

[The Spokesperson later added that Mr. Brahimi had served with distinction as head of the independent panel established to review United Nations peace operations.   The report, released by the panel in 2000 and known as the “Brahimi Report”, assessed the shortcomings of the existing system of peacekeeping and made specific recommendations for change, focusing on politics, strategy and operational and organizational areas of need.   She said that the Secretary-General thinks that Mr. Brahimi can certainly be an objective observer and is well qualified to lead the Panel.]

Question:   Am I to understand that at the moment the Secretary-General has not figured out what his position will be to allay the concerns that were raised by the Staff Union in terms of representation?

Spokesperson:   I don’t have an answer on that yet.   There has to be, of course, consultation with Mr. Brahimi on this.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

This is an update of our first posting of February 1, 2008, when to fliers by the UN Staff Union were brought to our attention. We attach these two fliers to the end of the article. The flier of January 23, 2008 talks about the bombing in Algiers and demands an outside independent investigation as it was done after the Baghdad bombing of the UN compound there. But the other flier shows total distrust of the UN top brass. The December 17, 2007 flier came about because the killing of two Red Cross workers in Sri Lanka beginning of 2007, and also of aid workers killed in 2006. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his opposition to the killings, but did he stand up to the Sri-Lanka government when it accused UNICEF Country Representatives that protested the killings. If the UNSG cannot stand up to Sri Lanka and Algeria, why in the world will a UN employee want to serve in a troubled country knowing that he/she is not completely backed by the UN system?

The original article:

The Algerians Insisted That Algerias Lakhdar Brahimi Be The Investigator In The Killing of 17 UN Staff In Algiers. Does The UNSG Not Care For The Safety Of UN Civilian Staff?

Last evening we went to the UN to watch an Academy Award winning documentary – “Into The Arms Of Strangers: Stories Of The Kindertransport.” That was the story of 10,000 children that were sent off by their Jewish parents from Nazi occupied European continent to Britain – this in order to give them the chance to live. Not an easy task for parents and children alike. On the way to the Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium we passed the BESA exhibit that shows Albanian Muslims – Kosovarians – that saved Jews during the war – so humanity can feel that in those days of darkness there were Muslims that felt repulsion to Nazi behavior.

After the movie I happened to talk to a journalist accredited to the UN that told me – you know what? Ban Ki-moon looked high and low and landed upon an Algerian Ex-Minister and perpetual Algerian UN emissary to investigate the recent killing of 17 UN employees in Algeria. If I would not be afraid that someone would accuse me of racism – I would clearly say that this stinks of “WHITEWASHING.” I cannot see why the stomachs of UN civil employees would not turn over with these news.

People of their ilk, were indeed killed like they were in the bombing of the Baghdad UN compound – this because the UN top brass is back-bone-less when it comes to stand up to what it calls a sovereign government – and do not wink when in the process they sacrifice lives of UN employees. You can say that military people have sold their safety when signing up for serving in an army, but civilians did not. The UN Staff Committee, if they have any backbone must now speak up. If they are also run by interested country citizens on the UN quota based system, so good luck when next bomb strikes.

With above information in my head, I discovered at home that things start filtering to the press via the very few outlets of true investigative journalism that still operate at the UN.

After Algiers Bombing, UN to Appoint Algerian Ex-Minister Lakhdar Brahimi to Investigate.

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, January 31 — “In the wake of the bombing last month that killed UN staff in Algiers, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he would appoint an outside panel to investigate. The Algerian government protested, saying it had not been consulted. Ban and his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar both met with Algerian officials, and Thursday night Algerian diplomats said that the choice to head the UN panel is former Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi.”

At the UN, some scoffed at such a choice as an accommodation which would call into question any independence of the panel. Others called it astute politics, given that Brahimi’s previous study of peacekeeping made it likely that he will exonerate the UN system, too.

But UN Development Program Administrator Kemal Dervis, asked by Inner City Press about UNDP’s Marc de Bernis’ role in not having raised the threat assessment level after the April 2007 bomb attack in Algeria, said that the UN had in fact asked the Algerian government to help block off the street in front of the UN building, without any formal response. So this time, in effect there was a UN employee who on location asked for improved security from the Algerians. Obviously, nobody from UN headquarters in New York has moved onto that subject in those days. Mr. Marc de Bernis was killed in the bombing – so now we rely on his widow’s statements.

Algerian officials have fired back, including at a conference in Tunis on Thursday, when Algeria’s interior minister Yazid Zerhouni spoke, in front of UN Security chief David Veness, of the need for \’respect for the sovereignty of states… without interference in their internal affairs.’ Hours later, other Algerian diplomats named Algerian Brahimi as the UN’s “outside” investigator.”

Now that is what we keep saying all the time – THE UN IS JUST AS GOOD AS THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR OF ITS SOVEREIGN STATES – and this is lower then low.


Lakhdar Brahimi – is he “a fox guarding the hen house,” as one diplomat put it?
Remembering that Algeria is a member of OAPEC and sells oil and gas to Europe – could he be rather the cat that was put in charge of the sour cream jar?

David Veness, it should be said, was previously with Britain’s Scotland Yard, for which he investigated without success the disappearance of three million dollars from UN custody in Somalia. Now Scotland Yard is providing the veneer of outside investigation to Pervez Musharraf’s inquiry into the murder of his political rival Benazir Bhutto.

Matthew writes that “one wag at the UN Thursday night, at the end of the month of Security Council presidency reception by the Libyan mission, asked and answered a question. What is the difference between Pervez Musharraf and Ban Ki-moon? (A beat.) At least Pervez Musharraf has Scotland Yard.”

So, the UNSG will not even show strength of looking for cover by reaching out to someone like David Veness to look into what hapened in Algiers. That corects us now – THERE WILL NOT BE EVEN A WHITEWASH in the Algiers affair – plain lack of trust in the so called Algerian in-house investigation.

WE HAVE A SUGGESTION – WHY WOULD NOT BAN KI-MOON ASK FOR AN ISRAELI EX-MOSSAD MAN TO VOLUNTEER TO REVIEW THE BRAHIMI CONCLUSIONS. TO BE MORE PRECISE – HE SHOULD ANNOUNCE THIS AS HIS UN INSTITUTIONAL CHOICE WHEN ACCEPTING THE ALGERIAN SOVEREIGN CHOICE OF BRAHIMI. ONLY A DRASTIC MOVE LIKE THIS CAN RETURN A SEMBLANCE OF CREDIBILITY BEFORE THE UN STAFF.

algeria001.gif

algeria002.gif

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

After several days of hesitation – finally it seems that security at the UN facilities in Algiers were as lacking as they were at the time in Baghdad – and the UN is afraid to speak up when faced by a recalcitrant Moslem Government. Those that are being sacrificed because of a lack of backbone by the persona of the UN Secretary-General are the UN’s own officials and their staff.

Finally, at least a month too late, Mr. Ban Ki-moon allowed himself to be pushed to calling for an outside investigation of what was wrong in UN’s own security at the Algiers complex, and he is faced now by a recalcitrant Algerian Prime Minister who does not understand seemingly that the Monkey sits on the backs of both of them.

UNDP is in Algeria in order to help the people of Algeria, like the UN was in Iraq in order to help the people of Iraq. As we shall see from this posting there are now perhaps six UN offices in the world where staff is told now to work from home because the offices are not safe. Why does the UN operate in places where the local government does not realize that they are responsible for the safety of the UN staff. If they plead lack of power – that is one thing, but if they plead arrogance wrapped in sovereignty, that is something else altogether – and the UNSG has the personal responsibility to close the UN offices in such a case.

But that is something no high official at the UN has yet contemplated. They will rather try to bamboozle the less then a handful of good investigative journalists that were not yet removed from the UN – this in the belief that truth can be shoved under the rug for a little while longer.

The UN of Ban Ki-moon starts to look like Pakistan of General Musharraf. Investigations will be allowed when all the evidence has been chewed up.

The following Breaking stories will keep thinking minds busy for a while. Time May have come indeed for thorough plowing of the UN furrows.

2007-12-18t144449z_01_zoh09_rtridsp_2_algeria-un_mainimage.jpg

2007-12-18t143958z_01_zoh12_rtridsp_1_algeria-un.jpg

Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (R) shakes hands with United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as they pose for a photograph after their meeting at the presidential palace in Algiers December 18, …

Algeria says “unilateral” UN bomb probe unwelcome.

16 Jan 2008 10:55:23 GMT
Source: Reuters

ALGIERS, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Algeria does not welcome a United Nations investigation into a bombing that killed 17 U.N. staff because the move was decided without consulting Algerian authorities, the prime minister said.

The U.N. said on Monday that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had appointed an independent panel to probe the Dec. 11 bombing in Algiers.

The government daily, El Moudjahid, quoted Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem on Wednesday as saying the Algerian ambassador at the U.N. had not been consulted and “Algeria’s view on this issue has not been taken into consideration”.

The move “can not be welcomed favorably because Algeria is doing its duty with regard to the subject in question”, the newspaper quoted Belkhadem as saying.

The probe was a “unilateral move”, he said.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of U.N. buildings in Algiers and another attack the same day that killed a total of at least 41 people, according to officials, including 17 U.N. employees.

Medical sources say more than 60 people were killed in the two car bombings.

Ban’s spokeswomen Michele Montas said on Monday the team would be asked “to establish all the facts concerning the Algiers attack and also to address … staff security for the United Nations in its operations around the world.” (Reporting by Lamine Chikhi, editing by William Maclean and Richard Balmforth)

UN says had asked Algeria for more security

16 Jan 2008 18:06:39 GMT
Source: Reuters

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 16 (Reuters) – The United Nations had asked Algeria to step up security for its offices in Algiers that were later destroyed by a suicide bombing, but got no formal response, a senior U.N. official said on Wednesday.

Two bombings on Dec. 11 killed at least 41 people, including 17 U.N. staff, mainly employees of the U.N. Development Program, or UNDP. A group called Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility.

“We already do know that the U.N. … designated security official (in Algiers) did ask the government for particular security measures, including blocking off the street, and that the government did not respond to that,” UNDP chief Kemal Dervis told a news conference.

Dervis later specified that there was no written response, although he could not say for certain if the government had responded orally.

“This is definitely one issue that we need to follow up on,” he said.

The United Nations has already made a preliminary internal report on the bombing. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has decided to set up an independent panel to investigate it further, his spokeswoman said on Monday.

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem was quoted in a a government newspaper on Wednesday as saying his country did not welcome the new investigation because the move was decided without consulting Algerian authorities.

UN says had asked Algeria for more security

16 Jan 2008 20:33:39 GMT
Source: Reuters

(Adds quotes, details, background)

By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Algeria failed to act on a U.N. request to block off the street in Algiers where its offices were sited and the building was later bombed, killing at least 41 people, a senior U.N. official said on Wednesday.

Seventeen U.N. staff, mainly employees of the U.N. Development Program, or UNDP, were among those killed in two bombings on Dec. 11. A group called Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility.

UNDP chief Kemal Dervis told a news conference that following the blast U.N. staff in half a dozen countries had been asked to work from home due to a growing perception that the world body was a target for bombers.

“We already do know that the U.N. … designated security official (in Algiers) did ask the government for particular security measures, including blocking off the street, and that the government did not respond to that,” Dervis said.

Dervis said the request had been submitted after bombs killed some 30 people in the Algerian capital last April.

He later specified that there was no written response, although he could not say for certain if the government had responded orally.

“This is definitely one issue that we need to follow up on,” he said.

The United Nations has already made a preliminary internal report on last month’s bombing. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has now decided to set up an outside panel to investigate it further, his spokeswoman said on Monday.

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem was quoted in a a government newspaper on Wednesday as saying his country did not welcome the new investigation because it was set up without consulting Algerian authorities.

But Dervis said: “I am sure they have been consulted.”

U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said Ban had discussed the panel with Belkhadem at a meeting on Tuesday evening in Madrid, where the U.N. chief was attending a cultural conference. She gave no further details.

THREAT LEVEL

Dervis, asked why the U.N. building in Algiers had been at the lowest threat level, said that was based on an assessment of the target of the April attack.

“Part of the story in Algiers was that this was targeted against the government and at that time there was no indication that there was any targeting of the U.N.,” he said.

Similarly in Pakistan, where opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on Dec. 27, the U.N. threat level was also at its lowest, Dervis said, saying he had sent a mission there to investigate.

“The definitions have to be changed so that many more places in the world, unfortunately, get classified into higher threat levels,” he said.

The UNDP chief also said the Algiers building had not been certified by U.N. officials as complying with minimum operating security standards.

Since the bombing, Algerian authorities had offered another building, but the United Nations had rejected it as not secure enough, he said.

“The choice we have at this point is basically saying ‘work at home’, and we’ve done that I think in six countries … or we have to house them temporarily in hotels,” Dervis said.

He declined to identify the countries, except for Algeria.

=================================

At the noon Briefing to the Press by UN Spokesperson, Ms. Michele Montas, there was no mention of Algeria but two of correspondents – Mattew Lee of Inner City Press and Benny Avni of New York Sun – hammered on this subject – as follows:

**Questions and Answers

Let’s have some brief questions because Mr. Holmes is with us now. Yes.

Spokesperson: Yes, Matthew.

Question: We just heard from Kemal DerviÅŸ from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that the UN system had asked the Government of Algeria to block the street in Algiers prior to the bombing, and he said that the Government didn’t respond in any way. I’m asking whether that’s something you can confirm. He also said that there are six countries where — I’m not sure if it’s UNDP or UN staff — have been told to work from home and not to go to the central building, due to danger.

Spokesperson: I don’t have to comment on what Mr. DerviÅŸ said. He said it and he’s standing by his word. Of course, it’s his prerogative.

Question: He also said the external review will be “finished in a few weeks”. That I definitely want to ask you about, since it hasn’t been named yet. What’s your timeline for it to be finished?

Spokesperson: Actually, we don’t have a timetable on that yet. Let’s not second-guess what was said earlier. Let’s go on to other questions. Yes.

Spokesperson: Yes, Benny.

Question: There’s a report from Algiers that the Government of Algeria says that it hasn’t been consulted by the UN about the commission and it does not welcome it. Can the investigation go on without the cooperation of the Algerian Government? And what does Secretary-General Ban intend to do to convince them to accept it?

Spokesperson: Well, as I said, he met with the Prime Minister when he was in Madrid. We will not comment on what the Prime Minister is reported to have said. As I said earlier this week, the independent panel is tasked with establishing all the facts concerning the Algiers bombing, but its scope is much wider than that, as it will address strategic issues vital to staff security in UN operations worldwide. So the panel itself is not just about the Algiers bombing. I’m sure there will be discussions with the Algerians once the panel is set up. It will be set up.

Question: But since the Algeria bombing is at least a part, and probably the trigger, for the setup of this commission, can it operate in Algeria without the cooperation of the Government?

Spokesperson: We will try to obtain maximum cooperation. Yes.

Question: To follow up, yesterday, the Algerian Prime Minister, in a press conference in Madrid, said that his Government objects to the decision of Mr. Ban Ki-moon regarding the investigation of this bombing.

Spokesperson: Well, it’s the same question that we had earlier; it’s the same answer. Yes, Edie.

Question: Is it fair to say that the question of an investigation by an independent commission was discussed by the Secretary-General and the Prime Minister this morning at their meeting, and is there any further readout on what else they discussed?

Spokesperson: No, nothing further than what I said. They discussed mainly the establishment of the independent panel.

Spokesperson: Yes, Benny.

Question: Following up on this question, had the Secretary-General, before he announced that he was setting up this commission, consulted with the Government of Algeria?

Spokesperson: Well, he consulted with several Governments. It was his decision that it was necessary to appoint a panel because staff security is of the utmost concern.

Question: You said several Governments, was the Algerian Government…?

Spokesperson: I cannot at this point say how extensive the consultations were, but it was a decision by the Secretary-General. Because the security of the staff all over the world is at stake, it was important to name that panel.

Question: I’m asking a simple question. Was there a phone call, an e

———————————

And

UN’s Review of Algiers Bombing is Slow and Thus Far Secret, As Questions Multiply

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, January 14 — A month after the bombing of UN premises in Algiers, the head of the UN’s own Department of Safety and Security David Veness delivered a report to Ban Ki-moon, the UN’s Secretary-General. Secret is the operative word: on Monday at the UN, Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban, “at what point do you think some of these reports would be made public, where you feel comfortable with the public, or at least the staff, seeing what the findings are?” Ban replied, “I think it is not appropriate at this time to make any interim report public. When there is a time, then we will let you know about our findings and recommendations.”

Following the August 19, 2003 bombing of the UN’s Iraq headquarters in the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, similar interim and internal reports were begun. A month after that bombing, then-Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed Finland’s former president Martti Ahtisaari to chair an “Independent Panel on the Safety and Security of UN Personnel in Iraq.” Ahtisaari quickly appointed three others to assist him, traveled to Baghdad, Amman and Geneva, and delivered a report on October 20, 2003, which was made public two days later. The report, among other things, criticized the UN for ignoring signs of a worsening security situation in Baghdad.

What has been learned, in the four years since? Many UN insiders question why a month has been wasted on an internal review which one knew needed to be superseded by an outside investigation. These insiders are troubled that there is not even a commitment that the outside review will be made public. At Monday’s UN noon briefing, most questions revolved about the withheld internal report, and warnings the UN may or may not have received. Beyond the UN’s Senegalese security coordinator in Algiers, Inner City Press is told by knowledgeable sources that a staffer of the UN’s Department of Field Support, previously Department of Peacekeeping Operations, on information and belief from within the MINURSO mission in Western Sahara, also conveyed relevant information.

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Mr. Ban and his team in Algiers, December 18, 2007

At Monday’s briefing, a correspondent who Kofi Annan called a cheeky schoolboy questioned persistently about Ban’s statement that no warning had been received. Inner City Press read into the record what Mr. Ban had said, that “the United Nations has never received any advanced warnings from whatsoever sources on this issue,” and then asked:

“I wanted to make sure, number one, that that definitely includes, for example, the UN Development Program. Because it said that the coordinator for security in Algeria was this guy Mark de Bernis of UNDP. When he said this, did he mean the United Nations, the entire system?”

The spokesperson said yes, the entire system and that she didn’t know if Mr. Veness spoke to de Bernis. Last Wednesday, Inner City Press asked UNDP’s Office of Communications to “describe the role in security in Algeria of UNDP’s Marc de Stanne de Bernis, including confirming or denying that he ever received requests to raise the threat level, or phase, in Algeria.” The request was reiterated to UNDP on Monday, but still without response. Back on January 8, Inner City Press had asked Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson, “Was Mr. de Bernis himself actually in charge of raising the level or did he have to run it by somebody above himself?” The spokesperson then said, “All this will be in the report that Mr. Veness will submit on the 11th. I am just asking you to wait until the 11th.” But January 11th came and went with no information being released. On Tuesday, January 15, the spokesperson said that the new panel is expected to be named “early next week.” Watch this site.

January 15th Matthew Russell Lee writes:

UNDP has refused for a week to answer whether its staffer in Algiers, Marc de Stanne de Bernis, blocked safety improvements and threat index raising requested by UN staffers in Algiers including Babacar Ndiaye, who was killed in the December 11 bombing, on the basis that he thought the government of Algeria might be offended by threat level raising or the installation of more substantial security around the UN building.

January 16th Matthew Lee Writes: Algeria Ignored Security Requests Prior to Bombing, UNDP’s Dervis Says, Insurance Unanswered

UNITED NATIONS, January 16 — The UN asked the Algerian government to help block off the street in front of the UN building in Algiers that was ultimately bombed on December 11, but the government never responded, UN Development Program Administrator Kemal Dervis told a press conference on Wednesday. Answering a question from Inner City Press regarding if UNDP’s Marc de Bernis had declined to raise the security threat level earlier in 2007, in order not to anger the Algerian government, Dervis said that the setting of threat levels is “ultimately managed by the UN’s Department of Safety and Security… headed by Sir David Veness.” Video here, from Minute 39:48.

Mr. Veness submitted a report on the bombing to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on January 11, a report that has yet to be made public. Now an external review panel has been called for, which Dervis on Wednesday said will be “finished in a few weeks.” Since the members of the panel have yet to be named, and the Algerian government now says it will not cooperate, Inner City Press later at Wednesday asked Ban’s spokesperson Michele Montas to confirm Dervis’ statement of timing. Ms. Montas said there is no time line, and saying “let’s not second guess,” declined to confirm Dervis’ statement that UNDP had asked the Algerian government to block off the street.

Since In fact, Inner City Press is told by UNDP sources that Marc de Bernis declined to act on a request by UN staffer Babacar Ndiaye to install waist-high metal barricades that can be raised and retracted, and did not raise the threat level above “One,” the lowest of five numeric ratings. Dervis on Wednesday, apparently in an attempt to deflect responsibility from UNDP and attention from Algiers, told reporters that the UN’s threat level is still “One,” even today, in Islamabad, Pakistan. He also said that there are six or seven countries in which UN staff are told to work from home, due to danger or insecure UN buildings. Dervis refused to name the countries, other than acknowledging that Algeria is now one of them.

undp2a1.jpg
UN officials at the bomb site in Algiers on December 18

Dervis said that the claimed request was made to the Algerian government soon after bombings in Algiers in April 2007. Algerian interior minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni has been quoted that “based on information gleaned from members of the GSCP [Salafist Group for Call and Combat / Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] arrested by the security services after the April 11 attacks, public buildings like the U.N. headquarters were among the targets of the organization.” Dervis on Wednesday said he wasn’t sure if Minister has denied this, and so refused to comment.

Dervis also did not respond on an issue raised by Inner City Press as part of the first question in the press conference: what is the status of insurance coverage of, and payments to, UN staff and contractors and their families? Inner City Press is informed by UNDP sources that an attempt is being made to tell the insurer, Willis and Lloyd’s, that the bombing on December 11 was not a terrorist event, that issues of who is covered and future insurance premiums are being dealt with an a non-transparent manner while some families are being told that payments to them for the death of their loved one are “voluntary.”

Dervis acknowledged that there are today UN building which are not compliant with MOSS, Minimum Operating Security Standards. He insisted that the Algiers building had not be certified as MOSS compliant. That, and the new review, are incongruous with a previously paid-for “validation exercise undertaken by Control Risk Group, an outside security risk management company” for the UN, according to a July 2004 memo obtained by Inner City Press. If MOSS and safety was subject to an external review in 2004, why did the UN still occupy non-MOSS compliant buildings in 2007, and what is going to be the function, and public output, of the external review panel whose members are slated to be named next week? We’ll have more on this, and on UNDP. Watch this site.

———————————-

The New York Times’ Warren Hoge worded the situation as follows:

U.N. Says Algeria Ignored Security Requests Before Bombing.

By WARREN HOGE
Published: January 17, 2008
UNITED NATIONS — A senior United Nations official said Wednesday that the Algerian government had ignored repeated requests to close off the streets outside the organization’s building in Algiers in the months before a suicide car bombing there last month killed 17 staff members.

“They didn’t say, ‘no,’ they simply didn’t respond,” said the official, Kemal Dervis, leader of the United Nations Development Program, whose offices there were hit by the blast on Dec. 11.

Mr. Dervis said the resident United Nations security officer had asked for the protective measure after two other car bombings in Algiers in April and had followed it up with a number of requests, both oral and written.

The Algerian mission at the United Nations said Mourad Benmehidi, the deputy ambassador, was unavailable for comment.

Mr. Dervis’s remarks, made during a news conference about the agency’s plans for the new year, underscored deep fears in the United Nations’ senior ranks that the organization was increasingly becoming an explicit target of terrorist groups. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has sworn allegiance to Al Qaeda, took responsibility for last month’s bombing, and a recent statement attributed to Osama bin Laden denounced United Nations troops in Lebanon as “crusader” forces.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a year-opening news conference last week that he realized that the United Nations’ neutrality was coming under question in some parts of the world and exposing the organization to increased danger.

“The United Nations is not working for any group of nations over another,” he said. He added that this “must be correctly understood and communicated.”

Mr. Dervis said that he had ordered his agency’s workers in Algeria and five other countries, which he would not identify, to stay away from their offices and to work from home or hotels.

Noting that taking cover was a difficult course of action, he said: “The U.N. is working in the field, on the ground, and cannot be barricaded from where the work is taking place. These are civilians working in development and humanitarian work; they are not soldiers who have signed up for battle.”

He said that when attacks abroad were thought to be directed against a government, the United Nations took no action to protect itself but that the practice must now change. As an example, he said, the alert level for the United Nations in Pakistan had until recently remained at the lowest level despite repeated outbreaks of insurgent violence.

Mr. Ban said Monday that he was appointing an independent panel to investigate the Algiers bombing and to recommend protective steps.

In Algiers on Wednesday, El Moudjahid, the government-controlled newspaper, quoted Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem as complaining that the creation of the panel was a “unilateral” move by Mr. Ban without proper consultation with Algeria and so was not “welcomed favorably.”

In response, Michèle Montas, Mr. Ban’s spokeswoman, said: “I am sure that there will be discussions with the Algerian government once the panel is set up. And it will be set up.”

——————————-

And The New York Sun’ Benny Avni:

“Blame Game Escalates Over Attack on U.N. in Algiers”

By BENNY AVNI
Staff Reporter of the Sun
January 17, 2008

UNITED NATIONS — The blame game between Algeria and the United Nations significantly escalated yesterday as senior officials of both camps publicly made accusations related to each other’s responsibility for security failures in last month’s terrorist attack on U.N. offices in Algiers.

The U.N. Development Program administrator, Kemal Dervis, told reporters that Algeria’s security officials declined to erect barriers around the Algiers U.N. headquarters prior to last month’s bombing, despite requests to do so from the world body’s security officials. Seventeen U.N. employees were killed in the December 11 twin car bombing, the largest terrorist attack ever against the world organization.

At the same time, Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem of Algeria said yesterday that his country would not welcome the independent inquiry team that Secretary-General Ban has said he would establish. The premier spoke to reporters yesterday after meeting Mr. Ban in Madrid during a U.N.-sponsored conference.

“Algeria’s view on this issue has not been taken into consideration,” and therefore the U.N. inquiry “cannot be welcomed favorably,” Mr. Belkhadem told a government-owned daily, El Moudjahid. His complaint may have been a reaction to allegations made last week by unnamed U.N. officials about the government’s shortcomings in protecting the organization from terrorists.

Such allegations became more acute yesterday as they were expressed publicly by Mr. Dervis, who said officials of the organization asked the Algerian government “for particular security measures, including blocking off the streets” and that “the government did not respond to that.”

Mr. Dervis, a Turkish national who arrived in Algiers immediately after the deadly bombing, also said that in at least six countries where the U.N. is active, employees have since been asked to avoid coming to their U.N. offices and to work from their residences instead. He could not explain why, after Algerian government installations were bombed by an Islamic organization last April, the U.N. security preparedness in Algiers remained at the lowest level — Level 1.

And in an apparent reference to decisions made by the U.N. top security official, David Veness of Britain, Mr. Dervis expressed criticism of some current security arrangements. Specifically, he said he would not have allowed the U.N. offices in Pakistan to remain, as they currently are, under Level 1 security arrangements after last month’s assassination of a former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

After the Algiers attack, the widow of the man charged with security there, Babacar Ndiaye, said her husband had warned his superiors about terrorist threats against the organization. According to several sources, Ndiaye had specifically written to a UNDP coordinator, Mark De Bernis, asking for improvement in security measures. Mr. Dervis said yesterday that he would not react until the independent investigation ordered by Mr. Ban would delivered its findings.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 8th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

SECRETARY-GENERAL’S PRESS CONFERENCE – Monday, January 7, 2008

UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK.

First let us give the “boiler plate statement, then the verbatim Q&A, and at the end a little further insight.

The Secretary-General: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. First of all, I would like to send my best wishes for a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I hope that 2008 will bring to all of you and your families best wishes, happiness and prosperity. It has been a great privilege for me to work with you during last year, my first year, and I count on continuing such a good relationship and friendship and exchange of ideas, including constructive criticism, even. Thank you very much.

By tradition, this is the season for taking stock—and for looking ahead.

We mourn the loss of 42 UN colleagues during the year 2007, including 17 killed in the Algiers terrorist bombing. Yet we enter 2008 with new determination—and new opportunities—to strengthen the UN’s role in the world.

You know that I am not one to speak easily of successes. The past year was one of immense challenges. But I think we have made certain progress. We opened a new chapter on climate change. We took on new and daunting challenges in peacekeeping, most specifically in Darfur.

We must build on this foundation. Protecting our planet and its people—our global commons—requires all our best efforts. So does the task of securing economic wellbeing, social justice, security and other global public goods. This requires sustained and coherent international action beyond what nations or markets can provide by themselves.

That is why I believe so strongly in the United Nations. Only the United Nations can take on the issues that affect us all, that shape the fate of the earth and its peoples.

These are powerful concepts: the “global commons” and “global public goods.” They are the basic building blocks of modern globalized society. If they are to have meaning, we must be mindful of the responsibilities they impose upon us.

We must address ourselves to the needs of the weak, the disadvantaged, those who have been excluded from the mainstream international community. I speak here of those who are most vulnerable to climate change. Those who suffer the most grinding poverty. Those who do not enjoy basic human rights.

And so I say, let 2008 be the year of the “bottom billion.”

That’s the phrase some economists use to describe the poorest of the world’s poor. They are the forgotten ones, the nearly one billion left behind by global economic growth. Most live in Africa or the small developing islands of Asia, eking out lives of hardship on incomes of less than $1 a day.

We must pay careful attention to these nations with special needs. We must heed the voices of the world’s poorest people, who too often go unheard.

For this reason, I shall work over the coming year to strengthen the UN’s role in development. We are at the mid-point of a great campaign to end world poverty, set forth in the Millennium Development Goals. Too many nations have fallen behind. We need fresh ideas and fresh approaches.

That is why, last year, I established the MDG Africa Steering Group. In April, world leaders will gather in Accra, Ghana, for the UNCTAD summit on trade and development. In September, we will host a high-level meeting at the beginning of the General Debate. The goal: to re-energize the world’s commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, with special attention to the poorest of the poor.

Last year, we used a similar forum to galvanize world action on climate change. This year, we will do the same for the bottom billion.

In the pursuit of the global good, human rights must be a core principle. It is fitting, then, that 2008 should also mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As I have said before, I say again. Economic and social advancement is an implicit human right. I will use this milestone year, therefore, to call for the universal ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

I am determined to press ahead with the special tribunal in Lebanon and to work with the international courts to promote justice and oppose impunity. We will launch a new global awareness campaign on human rights, push more aggressively to better protect women and children against violence, and strengthen the office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.

The demands on the UN grow ever greater. If anything, the coming year promises to be even tougher than the last. Look how it has begun, with turmoil in Kenya and renewed violence in Sri Lanka. We must nurture a fragile peace process in the Middle East. We must do more to help the people of Iraq emerge from conflict and rebuild shattered lives. We must stay the course in Afghanistan, so that it does not again fall into lawless anarchy.

In Darfur, we must do our utmost to push the peace talks to a successful conclusion. We must manage the very complex deployment of UN-African Union forces. To succeed, we need the full cooperation of the government of Sudan. We also need the Member States—including the Security Council—to live up to their commitments.

The road from Bali will be difficult as well. Two years is not a long time to win a climate change deal that all nations can embrace. I intend to keep up the momentum. We need a global grassroots public awareness campaign to focus political pressure and keep global warming at the forefront of public consciousness.

We therefore move into the new year with renewed commitment to our ultimate mission—building a stronger UN for a better world. As ever, I seek results, not easy rhetoric. Our watchword must be effectiveness. I will continue my push to modernize, revitalize and streamline the UN system, upholding the highest standards of ethics, performance and accountability.

I want to stress this word. Accountability is not a technicality. It must be the fundamental operational principle of the UN—for the Secretariat, the agencies and Member States alike.

We will continue our work to stiffen procurement and management procedures. I will shortly ask all senior executives to sign management compacts with me, laying out specific and measurable benchmarks for performance. Last year we re-organized our Department of Peacekeeping Operations. This year, we will do the same with our development-related bodies and the Department of Political Affairs. I want it to become more proactive in tackling global crises, especially in the realm of preventive diplomacy.

Member States, too, must hold themselves accountable. They must put up the resources to deliver on their mandates. We must deliver on our promises—openly, effectively and promptly.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since my first day in office, I have sought an open and active dialogue with you in the UN press corps. You were the first people I met last year on my first day, and you are the first – after my Town Hall meeting with the staff this year – that I am meeting in this new year.

I look forward to our healthy, frank exchanges. They are valuable and, often, fun. Let me start by taking your questions. And again, my best wishes to you all for a very successful, rewarding 2008.

Q & A :

Question 1 – by tradition – from the UN Correspondents Association President (UNCA): Thank you very much for your kind wishes to the United Nations Correspondents Association.

On behalf of all my colleagues here, I would like to wish you and Madame Yoo Soon-taek all the best — and, of course, a very successful second year, despite the slow activities and results of the last year. You have set a lot of high expectations for this year.

So I wonder if you can tell us: First, there is a new crisis in Africa, in Kenya, where accusations of genocide and ethnic cleansing have become more and more visible now and heard all over the world. I wonder what the United Nations is doing to prevent another case of Rwanda in 1994, where the United Nations is limited to providing relief services while the killing went on?

The Secretary-General: I have been in close contact with Kenyan leaders, including President [Mwai] Kibaki and opposition leader [Raila] Odinga, and President [John] Kufuor of Ghana, in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union, and many other international leaders to, first of all, calm down and stabilize the situation. I urged them strongly to avoid further killings of civilians. That was unacceptable, as I have stated in my two previous statements. I will continue to do that.

The United Nations has been doing our best efforts to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance to many people there who have been unfortunately displaced because of this situation in Kenya. Protecting human rights is very important and paramount for us. We are taking all necessary measures to prevent the further deterioration of the situation.

As for the specific question you raised, that will always be a high priority in my mind. We will try our best to ensure that no further casualties will happen there. And as the leaders of Africa – including President Kufuor, who is expected to have consultations with the Kenyan leadership — as well as some former presidents are also expected to visit there — I hope, through those international interventions, the Kenyan leaders will sit down together and resolve this issue in a peaceful manner.

——–

Question 2 from the UN Correspondent for The New York Times, Warren Hoge, a paper favored by the UN: Mr. Secretary-General, both you and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping last month said that the force going in to Darfur would be at risk unless the Sudanese Government agreed to some of the troop assignments that you were requesting, and unless other countries gave you the transportation and logistics you needed. Neither of those two things has happened. You have had a formal change of command in Darfur, which basically is just changing the colour of the helmets. My question is: If this force is, as you say, at risk, how can you deploy them when they don’t have the capacity to protect civilians and don’t have the capacity to protect themselves?

The Secretary-General: That is exactly why I, as Secretary-General, and the United Nations as a whole, and the international community – Member States – must ensure a rapid deployment of the Hybrid Operation as agreed, to the level of 26,000, as soon as possible. We now have 9,000 re-hatted soldiers in Darfur. That is not sufficient. That is why we are very much concerned about this ongoing deteriorating situation in Darfur.

I had a long telephone discussion with President [Omar al-] Bashir last Saturday, and we agreed to meet again in Addis Ababa. Before that, before we meet again at Addis Ababa on the occasion of the African Union summit meeting, we will have a high-level consultation to resolve all these pending issues. There are, as you rightly said, two areas of pending issues, one to be done by the Sudanese Government. There are still many technical or administrative issues, to which the Sudanese Government must commit themselves as agreed, including a status of forces agreement and also composition of forces and other technical issues.

Then there are resources to be provided by the Member States in general, including critical assets like helicopters and heavy transport equipment. These are to be done by both sides: by the international community as a whole and the Sudanese Government. I will do my best to expedite this process. In fact, we have made a good framework to resolve these Darfur as well as Sudanese issues as a whole, including a peace process and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

All those three tracks will move hand in hand. And we are also looking at the possibility of resuming the second peace process. But that may take a little bit of time. My Special Envoy Mr. Jan Eliasson and African Union Envoy Mr. [Salim Ahmed] Salim, they are working very hard. Jan Eliasson is also going to visit Khartoum next week.

——-

Question 3 from a correspondent from Morocco: Mr. Secretary-General, there have been statements threatening war in the African continent lately. The POLISARIO has been saying that this is the last chance that they give the Moroccans in the Western Sahara; otherwise the preparation for war is afoot. Also, we have the worrying aspect of Chadian aeroplanes bombing areas of Sudan, Darfur, in chase of Chadian rebels, so they allege. And there are obvious and frank threats from the President of Chad to enter Darfur to chase the Chadian rebels. Your thoughts on both subjects, please.

The Secretary-General: On the Western Sahara issue: As you may know already, I am going to issue a statement this morning that there is going to be another consultation in Manhasset, in Greentree, between the parties concerned. I appreciate all the parties concerned to have accepted my invitation. Mr. [Peter van] Walsum is going to organize as well as facilitate this dialogue. This is a painstaking and very complex issue, and I hope that this time they will be able to make good progress on these issues.

On the situation in Darfur and, again, the Sudanese relationship, I am going to discuss with African leaders, including President [Idris] Deby of Chad. I have spoken with President Bashir. But I would really urge the leaders and countries concerned to refrain from all these exercises – refrain from using military forces. This will only aggravate the situations in Africa. I am very much concerned about all these ongoing deteriorating situations – not only here but elsewhere, including Kenya, Sudan, Chad and other areas.

I really hope that this new year, 2008, will see bright hope. We have started with gloomy prospects: the situation in Kenya and elsewhere. I really hope that, with active cooperation and dialogue among the leaders of the world, we will see some better world this year. This is my firm commitment as Secretary-General.

Question – a follow up: But the POLISARIO is saying frankly, and their statements are very clear, that this is the last chance they are giving the Moroccans. Your thoughts on that; are you having any contacts with the POLISARIO? I understand that you hope that they will reach an agreement, but it seems the obstacles are too high and, in the face of these threats, it sounds like dire straits to me.

The Secretary-General: I would not make any comment on such kinds of very definitive declaration by any one of the parties. All the issues, they have their background and very complex nature of the issues. And it needs the parties concerned to be, first of all, patient and persistent and consistent and faithful in resolving this issue through dialogue.

——–

Question 4 from Japan: We know that you are a very humble person, but if you were to rate your first year’s performance on a scale of 1 to 10, how much would you give yourself, and why?

The Secretary-General: I am the sort of person – as you said, modest. I am the sort of person who is very strict to myself, officially and personally. Even in my home and my private life, I really want to be very strict to myself. When you set a guideline or rule, I want to be bound by that. I stick to that.

The assessment of my performance as Secretary-General during the last one year will be the role and duty of you and Member States and other public and private organizations, including many NGOs. I think that I have made certain progress. As I said, I am not a person who easily speaks about success, because one year may be too long or may be too short for anyone to assess my performance. All the issues which you may have seen last year, they are all ongoing projects, including reform of the United Nations, Darfur, climate change or all these Lebanese situations. All are ongoing and very complex, so we need to continue and step up our efforts. I think I have established good tracks on the basis of which I can move ahead on these projects.

———

Question 5 from Frank Ucciardo of CBS: Mr. Secretary-General, in your opening statement you talked about pressing on with the investigation in the Hariri assassination and the Lebanon tribunal. As you know, the family of Benazir Bhutto has asked for United Nations participation in the investigation of her murder. I would like to get your thoughts about that. And do you feel that the United Nations should be the one organization or agency in the world that is the place to go for such political assassination investigations?

The Secretary-General: In other places, you mean?

Question: Yes. In other words, Benazir Bhutto’s family has asked for the participation of the United Nations to investigate her murder and her assassination, and as you know, Scotland Yard has been invited in by the Government. But do you feel that the United Nations should be the place where the buck stops and where investigations start in such political assassinations?

The Secretary-General: First of all, the United Nations has not received any formal request from the Government of Pakistan, and as you may very well be aware, Scotland Yard are now providing technical assistance in the investigation process of this very tragic assassination case. Therefore, I am not in a position to comment on any request on a private, personal level. All this kind of establishing Special Tribunals should be, first of all, based upon the formal request of the Government concerned. And then that should be decided by the Security Council. That means that all Member States should decide. The assassination of Hariri case, which has been establishing this Special Tribunal, was a very special one, where the whole Security Council has made a consensus agreement on this.

——-

Question 6 from Ms. Raghida Dergham from Al-Hayat, London: Mr. Secretary-General, Happy New Year to you and your family, and thanks for welcoming constructive criticism. Actually, this is praise of what you have done in Paris, when you chaired the meeting in Paris on Lebanon. I am wondering if you are satisfied with the follow-up to that meeting you have chaired. And since you said you are pressing ahead with this tribunal on Lebanon, are you going to name the judges? You said you will accept the recommendations, but are you going to be naming the judges, and is the tribunal pretty much ready to be operational in February, as we have heard from the American ambassador? And is this tribunal now unstoppable?

The Secretary-General: We have made good progress on the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The United Nations remains committed to the search for truth and justice in this case. On 21 December, after three months of negotiations, we signed a headquarters agreement with the Dutch Government on the Special Tribunal, to be headquartered at The Hague. I have also received and adopted the recommendations of the selection panel created to help me recruit judges for the tribunal. It is a panel of international judicial experts, which includes my Legal Counsel, Mr. Nicolas Michel. I will announce the names of those selected at an appropriate time in the future. The judges will assume their functions on the date I will also determine soon.

In this regard, I would like to speak more broadly on the situation in Lebanon, if you will allow me to say a few words. I continue to be in close contact with Lebanese leaders and, more broadly, with international and regional leaders to try to find a solution to the prolonged political crisis. I am deeply disappointed by the current situation, in which the Lebanese people have not been able to elect their own President for such a long time. There has been a prolonged constitutional vacuum by not having a President yet.

Failure to reach an early agreement would represent a betrayal of the expectations of both the Lebanese people and the international community. You have seen the international donors conference, which was held in January last year in Paris, which committed almost $8 billion, and you have seen this meeting which I convened last December in Paris on the occasion of the other international meeting. I am, at the same time, encouraged by the efforts of the League of Arab States, announced yesterday.

I once again call on Lebanese leaders to think about the future of their country, transcending sectarian and individual interests. And, on the neighbouring countries, I urge them to help the Lebanese people, so that they will be able to overcome this crisis on their own will, without outside interference.

Question: A follow-up for you, Mr. Secretary-General: Have you been in touch with a particular neighbour who is thought to be interfering in Lebanon, and there is a Syrian presidency or Syrian Government: have you had any recent contacts with them? And what do you mean when you say that in due time you will announce the names of the judges? Do you mean when the tribunal becomes operational? And will that be in February, like the American ambassador said?

Secretary-General: The tribunal is making good progress, including the funding. We have been receiving necessary funding from many, many countries. Therefore, first of all, the headquarters agreement should be ratified by the Dutch parliament. We need to have sufficient funding. We are talking about $120 million for the period of three years, out of which we may need at least $40 million or $45 million, I am not aware of the exact amount, for the first year. I think necessary preparations are going on well. As soon as all these administrative and legal measures are finalized, then I will be in a position to announce the names of the judges.

Question: And Syria?

The Secretary-General: As you know very well, I have been in close contact with many leaders in the region, including President [Bashar al-]Assad of Syria. I think I have spoken with him last month, and I will continue to discuss this issue with whoever is known to have influence or interest in the future of Lebanon.

——–

Question 7 – from Nigeria or Cameroon: Thank you, Secretary-General, and happy New Year. I wanted you to give me your perspective – or the perspective of the United Nations Secretariat – regarding the Greentree accord between Nigeria and Cameroon. The Nigerian Senate keeps saying that the treaty has not been ratified, but the treaty is already being implemented. Now, did that decision, or did the information that the treaty was not ratified, did it come to the United Nations, as a surprise? Is the United Nations supposed to implement a treaty that has not been ratified by the competent authority in one of the countries that signed the treaty?

The Secretary-General: I will continue to discuss this matter and urge the leaders of Nigeria and Cameroon to abide by this Greentree agreement, which has provided a good framework for resolving all these pending issues.

Question: Let me follow up with you. Are you surprised that the Nigerian Government did not ratify the treaty before it was implemented?

The Secretary-General: That was a source of concern last year, which I have been discussing with the countries concerned.

——-

Question 8 – ?: Mr. Secretary-General, are you watching any of the US presidential debates, and who do you think is going to win, and will it make any difference to the United Nations?

The Secretary-General: I hope you will be able to tell me what are your own views. I am watching and closely following all these debates, but I have to wait until the final choice of the American people, who will be elected as the President of the United States. I will be very happy to work with anybody chosen by the American people.

——-

Question 9 – From a Francofone from Africa: If you allow me, I will ask my question in French, and you can answer in either English or French.

The Secretary-General: In French? Yes.

Question (spoke in French): You referred, in your introductory remarks, to the attack that took the lives of 18 United Nations employees, and you mentioned other recent attacks in the region, which received less media attention. There was an attack carried out against French tourists, another against Mauritanian soldiers and a further attack against Italian soldiers, and also a recent attack targeting police officers in Algiers. Do you share the view that is held by numerous individuals in the region who believe that the Sahel region is an area of arms trafficking, and therefore constitutes a base for the various terrorist groups that are threatening the region, and, beyond that, threatening neighbouring countries?

The Spokesperson: The question, for those of you who were not following in French, is about Algeria: the recent bombing in Algeria, and the prospect of –

Question: I am actually talking about the Sahel region as a zone of lawlessness and the smuggling of arms. And a lot of countries and people in the region are worried that those attacks mean that the region may be considered as ground for terrorist groups that may threaten the region. Given the recent attacks in Algiers and also the attacks in Mauritania that led to the cancellation of a major sporting event, the Dakar rally, do you share the views of those who think that this Sahel region is becoming ground for terrorist groups that may threaten the stability in the region?

The Secretary-General: Let me practice my French.

(spoke in French)

Thank you very much for putting that question to me in French. I think you are well aware of my passion for the French language. Now, if you will allow me, I am not fully prepared – but if you will allow me to continue in English. I discussed matters with President [Abdelaziz] Bouteflika when I was in Algiers last month, last year.

(spoke in English)

These are serious issues for any country in the world, including those in the Sahel area. It is not only Algeria. I told President Bouteflika that, while it was a very tragic – and I was so sad and so shocked, and they were also embarrassed very much by not having been able to protect the United Nations staff and United Nations premises – this should be a global issue, not Algeria or any countries in the Sahel area. Therefore, this needs a global, concerted effort to address, fight against international terrorism. I think the international community must do more. Regardless of what their belief may be, there cannot be any justification whatsoever when it comes to terrorism. Terrorism is terrorism, and therefore that bombing in Algiers really strengthened my resolve to work more. I again express my strong commitment to work for that.

Question: I think the talks start today on the Sahara issue. Don’t you think that this issue is also contributing to this instability, since there is no prospect for a solution? Do you expect a breakthrough in this round, or whether those talks will …

The Secretary-General: All sorts of grievances coming from these conflict issues may be the source of some elements of terrorism. That is why we must resolve all the conflict issues through peaceful means, through dialogue. I cannot but be general on your questions.

———

Question 10 – Benny Avni from the New York Sun: This is also about Algiers, Sir. In the wake of the bombing, the Algerian interior minister said that there were warnings against bombing of international institutions, including the United Nations. There are also all kinds of reports about internal warnings that came around. The question is, why doesn’t the United Nations, as it did with the Ahtisaari case in the aftermath of the Baghdad bombing, why doesn’t the United Nations create its own independent investigation, as opposed to just investigate by [David] Veness?

The Secretary-General: First of all, the United Nations has never received any advance warnings from whatsoever sources on this issue. Then, I have instructed the Under-Secretary-General for the DSS [Department of Safety and Security] to report to me by 11 January, this week, about his own investigation and findings of this terrorist bombing incident. On the basis of that, we are going to strengthen the measures for the safety and security of our staff and premises, and I’m going to discuss with Member States in general about how to strengthen the safety and security of staff. This is a very paramount issue, as we have seen four years ago in Baghdad. This was the second such terrorist bombing attack against the United Nations.

At the same time, the United Nations also needs to do more in communicating with the international community in general: why the United Nations is there and what the United Nations is doing. We need to make the international community appreciate more what the United Nations stands for. The United Nations is not working for any group of nations over another. The United Nations is working for the benefit and well-being of many developing countries; we are working for the promotion of human rights and peace and security. So this must be correctly understood and communicated to the world. And in that regard, I have been doing, on my own, efforts to communicate with the international community in general.

Question: Don’t you think it’s imperative for the credibility of the United Nations that there will be an independent investigation that is not being done by the person who was in charge of security, to see whether security procedures were actually followed?

The Secretary-General: I will see; I will reserve my judgement until I have a full report from DSS.

———–

Question 11 by a correspondent from the Middle East also following up on algiers: Happy New Year, Mr. Secretary-General. Just to follow up on that, on the Algiers issue, were you ever made aware during 2007, or the time since you became Secretary-General, that the head of United Nations security in Algiers, Babacar Ndiaye, had made repeated requests to his superior in Algiers – that also reached New York – that there were, in his view, likely to be attacks on Algiers, not maybe making a specific date or a specific warning, but saying that they were a target of Al-Qaida and asking for specific precautions to be taken, such as the erection of concrete barriers or the raising of the phase level? Were you ever aware of that, that it had ever reached your office? And if that’s the case, that he did make these warnings, why wouldn’t that, combined with the Ahtisaari report after the Baghdad bombing and the threat that the United Nations is under, really compel an independent investigation?

The Secretary-General: That’s a good point. That is why we are now working very hard. I have talked at length with President Bouteflika. First of all, as host Government, the Algerian Government is responsible for taking all measures to strengthen United Nations safety and security, and he assured me that he will find accommodations for UNDP and UNHCR. And this is not only to the Algerian Government; this is what I am going to discuss with Member States in general. I will keep in mind what you suggested.

Question: Well, can I get an answer to my question? Did warnings and requests for greater protection from Babacar Ndiaye, who was the head of the United Nations security in Algiers and who died in the bombing, ever reach your office, ever come to your attention?

The Secretary-General: I’m not going to tell you anything on these internal procedures. But I’m very closely looking at this matter, and I have instructed Mr. Veness to look into this issue very seriously and carefully to make an overall report for me.

———

Question 12 – someone with a Latin accent: It’s about Darfur. Last 21 December, the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly approved the budget about the hybrid force, and they were very concerned about the Lockheed-Martin contract, because it was without bids, and they asked for an investigation. And I don’t know now in what point is the process of this investigation. What are you going to do, and what do you think about this statement, this resolution of the General Assembly?

The Secretary-General: On what?

Question: On the Lockheed-Martin contract. You know, at the General Assembly, the members of the Fifth Committee said that they didn’t agree with the process used for doing this contract. And I only am wondering: what do you think about that?

The Secretary-General: I have answered this question, I think, at least two or three times already before. The situation in Darfur and all these preparations and constructions or procurement: the situation is a very difficult one there. You don’t have many vendors who are readily available to provide such service at a limited time. And that is why, in accordance with the necessary rules and regulations bestowed upon me as the Secretary-General, I have taken an exceptional decision. I am allowed to do that. And at the same time, I made it quite clear, when it comes to transparency and accountability, I will make sure that there should be a very transparent process of executing this procurement.

Question: When do you think you are going to inform the General Assembly about the process of the contract? I don’t know, because they asked, they made a request.

The Secretary-General: When they ask that question, as you do – Member States – this may happen in many national Governments too. You cannot always have all these open biddings, 100 per cent open biddings, as required. But this should not make any precedents, of course. But all the regulations – even in national Governments or other organizations, they have certain exceptional cases when you have to make such a decision. So I hope you will understand. But I’m not making to generalize this one.

——–

Question 13 from someone with a Slavic accent: Talking about strengthening the United Nations role in the world and the Security Council members to live up to their commitments, I was wondering, Sir, why it took you 10 days or a couple of weeks, to express your position towards the final status of Kosovo. And also, Sir, I remember last time, while you were in Portugal, as far as I remember, you advised them not to take any premature step by declaring their independence. I was wondering, what can you tell them this time?

The Secretary-General: I was mentioning in general, when there is a resolution, a mandate, for me to implement, there should be accountability, both for Member States and the countries concerned – and the party concerned. The Security Council has a particular responsibility: when they take necessary resolutions and decisions to deploy peacekeeping operations or any other security measures, then, in addition to my own work as Secretary-General, they should also help mobilize the necessary resources and funding. That is what I tried to mean.

Question: Would you tell us clearly, Sir, what is your position towards the issue of Kosovo? Do you still support Mr. [Martti] Ahtisaari’s plan? Do you call for new negotiations, and if so, on what basis? And is there a time schedule for these negotiations?

The Secretary-General: I will have to see and assess the situation as the situation unfolds on the Kosovo issue.

——

Question 14 – from Matthew Lee, of Inner City Press: There seems to be a difference of opinion between yourself and the Security Council on the issue of Somalia, where they’ve called repeatedly for an advance team to go in for, really, for exploring, dealing with this issue that [Ahmedou] Ould Abdallah has called more serious than Darfur, very serious. So can you tell us where things stand in terms of the Secretariat’s following up on what the Council has asked it to do in terms of Somalia?

And one follow-up on my colleague’s question about that contract: PAE. The General Assembly itself put into its resolution that it noted with concern and asked for an investigation of the process. So I know you’ve said transparency, and I believe you, but since you’ve said transparency, we haven’t had any briefing by the people that pushed for the contract, by Jane Holl Lute. We haven’t had the contract disclosed. So I think the reason that you have been asked the question three or four times is that it doesn’t seem there’s been any transparency, and the General Assembly in its resolution on UNAMID seems to agree with that. So I just wanted to make sure you understand what the question is, and that it is not an attempt to ask the same thing again and again, but to say “where is the transparency?”

The Secretary-General: On Somalia, I don’t think there is any difference between me and the Security Council. I have been continuously consulting with the members of the Security Council on these very important issues. I have suggested to Security Council members that there should be a two-track approach. One is, first of all, the Somalis themselves: they should engage in a broader political dialogue at the leaders’ level for national reconciliation. And secondly, on the security track, the international community should help AMISOM so that they can have a better capacity to address the security situation there.

As for this advance team, I have made it quite clear, even, I think, to you some time last year, that we are considering dispatching a technical assessment team some time early this year. On the basis of the report of this technical assessment team, we will discuss again with the Security Council what measures should be taken to help the situation in Somalia.

On this transparency and contract fraud: transparency is one of my top mottoes to make this Organization work as a trusted organization by the Member States. You should not have any question about my commitment, personally and officially and organizationally.

As for some reports about procurement fraud which have appeared in some of the media, I would like to make it quite clear that I do not agree with all that has been reported. It is true that there was some fraud, which was found, investigated by our own OIOS teams. The amount which has been the subject of procurement fraud was sort of an aggregate sum, not the fraud itself, so there were some exaggerations and incorrect reporting. I feel it unfortunate that the United Nations has been perceived in that way. It was not in the amount of several hundred million dollars. That several hundred million dollars was the total aggregate sum of the project fund. So I hope there should be no misunderstanding. But this issue was also discovered and investigated by our own.

At this time I think the United Nations needs some strengthened investigative capacity. We have many different mandates, different organizations and different agencies, starting from the ombudsman, OIOS, the Ethics Office; and there are all the specialized agencies and funds and programmes. In November of last year, with my consistent efforts, we were able to have a standardized ethics rule which will be applied to all the agencies, funds and programmes. That was very good progress in terms of ensuring and strengthening transparency and accountability. That effort will continue this year and in coming years.

But I hope that Member States one day will consider how we can strengthen the investigative capacity. We don’t have such investigative capacity in the United Nations. We have been relying upon this Procurement Task Force. Fortunately, that mandate has been extended for another year.

Thank you very much. Again, I wish you all the best: happy New Year to you.

————————-

So what we see here is that the Secretary General, in his presentation, says that 2007 was the Year of Climate Change, “I say, let 2008 be the year of the “bottom billion.” This because it is all about the “global commons” and “global public goods.” The intent is to make 2008 about development and to remember human rights also, because this year we celebrate 60 years to the Declaration on Human Rights. The other key word is “Accountability.” Otherwise the world is a work in progress.

In 2007 there was something talked about Darfur, Lebanon, the tribunal on the killing of Rafik Hariri, Kosovo, Somalia, Western Sahara and a few other places but the results are yet to show.

But a press conference is not really about what is presented before the journalists but what questions the journalists put before the presenter. So it is the Q & A that really counts and here we saw an interesting gradation in the questions put and the mood that the answers created.

The first question, by the president of UNCA, in our opinion was actually the worst question as it compared the killings in Kenya with the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. We argued in one of our previous postings that what goes on in Kenya is a political issue, it did not start out as the African endemic post-colonial tribal conflict. Actually it was created by Kibaki’s transgressions and his isolating himself from the country with the members of his own tribe the Kikuyus. The Kenya problem can be settled in the same way as the Iraq problem could have been settled five years ago – just tell the minority that usurped the government what is their right place on the national totem-pole. If you continue backing the usurper because you think this is better for you – you neither help ending the conflict, nor stop the killings. From here to genocide the distance is like from the understanding of a situation to the creation of a false image.

Two more questions were a bit of   line: One funny question asked the UNSG to rate himself, and he nicely avoided doing so, a second question asked him what he thinks of the contest in the US presidential primaries, and he very cleverly gave the only answer that he could give – that he will work with any US President that will be elected eventually.

There were a total of 14 questions including the above three. Some of the journalists had two follow ups, some asked a double question.

There was no question whatsoever on climate change and there was no question on development. The Journalists had pinpointed questions on what their outlets tend to publish.

We counted and found that among the remaining 11 questions – four questions contained elements of the Darfur problem, two about Lebanon, two about the Algeria/Sahel/arms traffic/terrorism issues, two about Western Sahara/Polisario, two about the Nigeria/Cameroon area, and one each about Chad, Pakistan, Kosovo, and Somalia.

The first questions passed by smoothly, but as time progressed, and questions came from a vaster net of journalists, follow up questions insisted on an answer, and the UNSG is a master at evading giving an answer, and it cannot be attributed to a conflict of language, but it might rather look like good diplomatic maneuvers when indeed there is no answer – this not because the SG does not want to answer – but rather because there is no answer that will cover on the intrinsic paucity of action at the UN. But then some subjects cannot be pushed under the UN red carpets easily.

17 people were killed in Algiers and the UN had warning that something is bound to happen. yes there was probably not a specific warning with a date attached – but there was a warning nevertheless – a head of security in algiers asked for reinforced walls and it was denied from headquarters – the man was among the dead.   A sequence of two journalists tried to extricate an answer – what will the UNSG do to investigate the security of the UN personnel that is being sent in the harms way without protection. This happened clearly in Baghdad, and the journalists want to know if this was the case also in Algiers.

In above process we also saw the following exchange:

“The Spokesperson: The question, for those of you who were not following in French, is about Algeria: the recent bombing in Algeria, and the prospect of –

Question: I am actually talking about the Sahel region as a zone of lawlessness and the smuggling of arms.”

We do not intend simply to pound on Spokesperson Michelle Montes, but this shows what happens quite often in Room 226 at the UN. The Spokesperson jumps at saying what she wants to say, and does not try to answer clear questions. In effect this is a rather common trend within the UN Information system, and it works counter-productive to Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s own stand, as we pointed out many times in regard to the topic of climate change.

Darfur has produced a lot of wind at the UN, but were are the helicopters to ferry the non-existent troops? And why was there a contract given to Lockheed without others having access to compete? There is a lot of money in this, and the fame of oil-for- food was not forgotten. It took four journalists in Sequence to hammer on this point and to make the UNSG quite uncomfortable. It showed eventually on his face.

Why can he not intervene in Pakistan to find a way to investigate the Bhutto killing, is the UN so restrictive that for even such events they have to wait for the invitation of the transgressing government in order to tell the truth to the world, and to the country that was hit – this might indeed be the only way to stop internal riots and killings. What will it take to turn the UN into an element of truth?

So, what will bring 2008? You can bet on it – more States will start to unravel – this because of climate change induced environmental disasters, and a decline in the world economy. The moment people suffer they tend to act and they may tend to take the wrong actions, kill and justify later. Will the UN be allowed to reorganize so that it can intervene even without invitation?

And What Did The Morning Papers Write About the Press Conference? What I can say for now – I did not see an article on Darfur in the New York Times, neither an article on any other item from the above.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

SECRETARY-GENERAL LAYS OUT CHALLENGING UN AGENDA FOR 2008 –   as reported by the new UN Daily News Service. With a first of the year press conference to follow Monday January 8, 2008, 10:30 am – thatwill probably be aired on UNTV in Manhattan on Channel 78.

Peacekeeping, pre-emptive diplomacy, climate change and improving the lot of poor countries, as well as internal reform, will be high on the United Nations agenda for 2008, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today. (January 4, 2008)

“If the challenges ahead appear daunting, let us remember that great expectations are placed on us,” Mr. Ban told staff during a town hall meeting held at UN Headquarters in New York, in which colleagues from around the world participated via video-link.

“The world recognizes the indispensable nature of the United Nations. Let us take heart from the fact that multilateralism is alive and well and in greater demand than ever – that people look to us for global solutions to global problems.”

Noting that 2008 will be a milestone year marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mr. Ban said the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) would be strengthened “so we can deliver more results on the ground,” and he would create a task force on the global scourge of violence against women.

In peace and security, he cited the establishment of the hybrid UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) which will be the Organization’s largest peacekeeping operation when it reaches its mandated level of some 26,000 troops and police in an effort to bring peace to that war-torn region of western Sudan.

“Our task now is to strengthen our capacity for preventive diplomacy, and instil a more integrated and effective UN approach in responding to conflict and supporting sustainable peace processes,” he added, noting the need to continue reforming the Department of Political Affairs and enhancing the peacebuilding system to prevent countries emerging from conflict from slipping back into bloodshed.

Mr. Ban called for redoubling efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to slash a host of social ills such as extreme hunger and poverty, infant and maternal mortality, and lack of access to health and education, all by 2015, adding that Africa must be the priority, as many countries there are in danger of falling short.

He stressed that the poorest countries are also among those most vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

“So we must act on the mutually reinforcing relationship between climate goals and development goals. Climate change will remain a top priority, both because of the desperate urgency of the issue itself, and because of the tight negotiating calendar,” he added, referring to the agreement at last month’s conference in Bali to have a treaty on greenhouse gas emission targets ready by the end of next year.

All these needs will also require revamping the UN’s internal workings, and Mr. Ban cited the streamlining of the world body’s contracts system and a continued focus on better governance, performance, accountability and transparency.

Stressing the primacy of staff security and safety after last month’s bombing of UN offices in Algiers, he declared: “The tragedy in Algiers also strengthens our resolve to explain even more clearly and consistently to the public the role of the United Nations, wherever we operate – why we are there, what we are doing, what we stand for and what we don’t.

“We must make clear we are not there to represent any one group of nations over another. We are there to clear landmines, build schools, run clinics, advance the rule of law, provide emergency relief, help protect the environment, promote human rights, keep the peace in troubled lands – in short, build better lives for the men, women and children we exist to serve.”

The only press interview following the Secretary-General’s UN “Town-House” meeting was seemingly to the Arab Al Jazeera that mantains a strong presence at the UN headquarters. The interview was understandable because of the recent killing of 17 UN staff members in Algiers, a seemingly Al Qaeda action to scare te UN from mixing into Arab affairs. The UNSG seemed to bedefensive about the UN activitieson behalf of Arab peoples sothe UN News Service titles its article:

“DEPLORING TERROR ATTACKS ON STAFF, BAN TELLS AL JAZEERA UN STANDS FOR ENTIRE WORLD ,” and continues:

Expressing sadness that the United Nations and its staff have become targets of terrorist attacks, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has underscored that the world body stands for all the nations, people and faiths of the world.

The UN “is not working for any group of nations over another,” Mr. Ban said in an interview with Al Jazeera which aired today, stressing that “there should be no misunderstanding” as to what the Organization does.

When asked whether he believes the role of the Organization is misunderstood by the Arab world, he responded, “they should understand that what we are doing is to uphold the principles, universally accepted principles, of peace and human rights, as well as development of the countries where [we] work.”

The terrorist attacks in which 17 UN staff lost their lives in Algiers last month are “unacceptable,” the Secretary-General declared, noting that “terrorism can never be justified under any circumstances.”

Acknowledging that differences of opinion exist between Muslim and non-Muslim countries, he said that “our best efforts” must be exerted to bolster understanding and appreciation of other faiths and cultures.

Mr. Ban pointed to the steps taken by the UN Alliance of Civilizations – which brings together leaders, institutions and civil society to try to reduce fear and suspicion and overcome prejudices and polarizations that have emerged between Islam and the West – to promote interfaith dialogue.

Shrugging off suggestions that he is particularly close to the United States, he emphasized that the Security Council unanimously recommended his nomination to the General Assembly, which in turn endorsed his election.

“I have maintained a very close relationship with all the non-aligned countries and other Member States from other regions,” Mr. Ban declared.

Responding to criticism that he has not taken clear positions on some issues, the Secretary-General highlighted that he is “very practical” as well as “very realistic” in addressing problems.

Given the diverging dynamics, backgrounds and issues involved in specific conflicts, it is essential to address each issue in a “very comprehensive way, without necessarily listening to one [side’s] positions,” but instead taking all parties’ concerns into account, he said.

Mr. Ban pointed to the importance of maintaining his objectivity and being perceived as fair by all sides to a conflict.

“I have taken very clear, definite positions when it comes to real situations,” he said, citing the recent agreement on the Bali road map to tackle climate change, the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur, Lebanon and the humanitarian situation in Gaza as examples.

On Iraq, the Secretary-General said that it is crucial to focus on the war-wracked nation’s future rather than dwelling on the past and whether or not the use of force against the country defied international law and the UN Charter.

“The whole international community should help the Iraqi Government and people so they’ll be able to enjoy genuine freedom so they can live in peace and security,” he said.

Mr. Ban underlined that the expansion of the UN’s role in the country was agreed upon unanimously last August by the 15-member Security Council – not just by the US. “I am very happy to implement this Security Council resolution to strengthen and increase the presence of the United Nations for the purpose of bringing peace and security to the region,” he said.

Regarding the Middle East peace process, the Secretary-General said that the so-called diplomatic Quartet – comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and the US – has an important role to play.

But he also stressed that he has expressed his concerns about the humanitarian situation that Palestinians face due to settlements, roadblocks and the closure of crossing points.

Mr. Ban expressed his sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people, and said that he is doing his utmost to ease their “social and economic burdens.”

So, in order to please his Arab audience, Mr. Ban Ki-moon ends by talking of the plight of the Palestinians – the only specific case he found worthwhile to mention in his interview. What about the plight of the Israelis being bombed by those Palestinians? What about Pakistan and Kenya – the news of the day? OK , we understand that Al Jazeera did not ask about those problems, but did the UNSG not find a way to say that he was looking at those problems also? Or is he not? Or was this just the fluke of those at   UN News Service that singled out   from the interview items only to their liking? In our other piece today we marked the geographical positioning of Kenya – Rwanda as a seemingly unwise comment by the UN writer. Was also here a reinterpretation of what the UNSG said? As we were not present we will not know. As we will not be at this coming Monday Press Conference, we will not be able to ask!

The UN is indeed a very complicated place and do not expect good deeds unless they are agreed upon by mid-level staff.

But yes, There is a requirement for multilateral action when there are global problems – the UN must maske sure it pushes forward with agreements on climate change, but when it comes to killings within the borders of particular Member States, there will be no real involvement of the UN. In most cases there will not be even a finger pointing motion – that is except when Israel is being mentioned – now you see the body has fingers!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 13th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: TOP-DOWN POLITICAL REFORM IN ARAB WORLD PROLONGS STAGNATION
– 12/12/2007.
UNITED NATIONS –   MaximsNews Network   – December 12, 2007 :   Despite passing considerable economic and social reforms Arab regimes continue to avoid substantive political reforms that would jeopardize their own power. Reformers in ruling establishments recognize the need for change to increase economic competitiveness, but the preferred process of “managed reform” is leading to further political stagnation, says a new paper from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In Incumbent Regimes and the “King’s Dilemma” in the Arab World: Promise and Threat of Managed Reform, Carnegie Senior Associates Marina Ottaway and Michele Dunne argue that emerging, reform-minded leaders in Arab nations face a dilemma—globalization and better public access to information are prompting calls for modernization, yet history shows that even limited reforms introduced from the top often increase, rather than decrease, bottom-up demand for more radical change, as in the case of the Iranian revolution.

To contend with this threat, Arab regimes are attempting to control the process of change through “managed reforms”: the introduction of formal, institutional reform without the transfer of real power (Bahrain and Egypt); substantive improvements in citizens’ rights without institutional reform (Morocco); or the limited participation of legitimate opposition groups (Yemen and Algeria).

Key Conclusions:

There is growing awareness in the Arab world that reforms are necessary to create a viable, competitive economy. Oil is no longer seen as an inexhaustible source of revenue that gives governments an infinite capacity to manipulate their citizens.

Pressure from the United States and Europe to introduce reforms has been inconsistent and has favored managed reforms, sending signals that external expectations are not very high, and that external actors can be easily appeased.

Further political stagnation is the likely scenario for most Arab regimes, characterized by limited change rather than an uncontrolled slide into an uncertain future. The power of reformists remains limited in most countries, as they have generally failed to convince the population that they are serious about change, resulting in tarnished reputations.

To be successful, regime reformers need to find allies in civil societies or moderate parties. Some reformers could decide that a competitive political environment would benefit their political future—yet a more participatory reform process could prove unpredictable.

“The evidence so far is that the top-down process is having very little effect, making at best a marginal difference on specific issues but not leading to the redistribution of power that a true process of democratization and even liberalization would entail. For domestic advocates of managed reform and for outsiders seeking to promote change alike, the lesson appears to be that political reform can never be risk free: Too much close management perpetuates authoritarianism, and unmanaged processes have unpredictable outcomes.”

NOTES

Marina Ottaway is a senior associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program and director of the Carnegie Middle East Program. Her upcoming publication, Beyond the Façade: Political Reform in the Arab World (co-edited with Julia Choucair-Vizoso), will be released in January 2008.

Michele Dunne is a senior associate and editor of the Carnegie Endowment’s Arab Reform Bulletin . A specialist on Middle East affairs, formerly at the State Department and White House, Dunne’s most recent publication is Egypt—Don’t Give Up on Democracy Promotion (Policy Brief, July 2007).

The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis, Carnegie’s Middle East Program examines politics in the Arab world. The Program studies extensively attempts at political reform, through detailed country studies and the exploration of key cross-cutting themes. The Program has special expertise in Islamist participation in pluralistic politics throughout the region.

The Arab Reform Bulletin addresses political developments and reform in the Middle East. Sent monthly, it offers analysis from Arab, American, and European political experts, as well as news synopses and annotated resource guides. The Arab Reform Bulletin is published in English and Arabic.

Contact: Trent Perrotto, 212/939-2372,  tperrotto at ceip.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 12th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

12/11 will be remembered as the day the UN Center in Algiers was destroyed, and at least 11 UN employees were killed. This is now an addition to the list of dates – the 11th of the month – the Islamic revolt events against the governments of Muslim States, and against what they perceive as the West’s involvement with these governments, and with the economies run by the ruling factors in these States. The fight was taken by the Islamists directly to the West – so we had 9/11 in New York and 3/11 in Madrid; but there were prior events in Muslim countries like the bombing of the UN compound in Baghdad – now we have 12/11 in Algiers. Our web has included in this list also 5/11 when the African-Arab allliance has killed the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Surely, there was no blood on the floor at the UN in New York – in its basement, – but as a result many Africans and others have died, and will die, because there will be no action on Sustainable Development for a long time to come. In effect I sat today at a presentation by the African Development Bank that was being taped for a curriculum on Sustainable Development that is being developed by the Earth Institute of the Columbia University in New York City. The presentation was about agriculture in Africa, an occupation that still involves 70% of Sub-Sahara-Africans (SSA) and this is the year that Land Use is the cyclic topic to be picked up by the UN CSD. Despite the importance of the subject, it most probably will not be given a just threshing because of the African-Arab alliance that turned on 12/11.2007 the chairmanship of the CSD over to Zimbabwe. On the positive side of what happened in Algiers today, the peace was preserved in Bali – so will the UNFCCC meeting get a reprieve from those factors in Indonesia that have already twice staged large attacks in Bali? We shall see how this week ends.

Twin Bombs Kill Dozens in Algiers

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Fayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse—Getty Images
Rescue workers at the scene of the bombings in Algiers. More Photos >

Katrin Bennhold reported from Paris and Algiers, and Craig S. Smith from Paris. Warren Hoge contributed reporting from the United Nations, and Victoria Burnett from Madrid. Published: December 12, 2007, The New York Times.

ALGIERS — Twin car bombs near United Nations offices and an Algerian government building killed dozens of people Tuesday in what may have been the deadliest attack here in more than a decade.

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Photographs
Dozens Killed In Algerian Bombings

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Map
Map of the Bombings

Related
Chronology: Militant Attacks in North Africa (December 11, 2007)

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Zohra Bensemra/Reuters
The Constitutional Court building in Algiers after the bombing on Tuesday. More Photos »

Two European diplomats in Algiers said that reports from rescue and medical workers led them to believe that 60 or more people had died. By Tuesday evening, 26 deaths had been confirmed by the Algerian Interior Ministry.

The terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility, posting a message on Islamist Web sites with photographs of two men it claimed were suicide bombers who carried out the attacks, which it said were aimed at “the Crusaders and their agents, the slaves of America and the sons of France.”

Some of the dead were students aboard a bus that was on its way to a university when it was struck by the first car bomb. Late Tuesday night, about 200 people huddled outside the police perimeter as rescue workers in dusty overalls and helmets worked to recover those still trapped inside.

A ray of light from the mountain of rubble that had been the United Nations building marked the spot where the police and firemen worked into the night to recover at least one survivor.

One woman said she had been there since the morning and was still waiting for news of two cousins and a friend who worked in the building. “We’ve had no news yet, no sign of life,” she said as a friend comforted her. While she spoke, a caravan of trucks towed away burned-out cars and an ambulance passed carrying a body in a white bag.

Marie Okabe, the deputy spokeswoman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said preliminary figures showed that at least 11 United Nations staff members had died and that the organization was trying to account for several others who were missing.

“Our people are working with Algerian authorities in pulling people from the rubble,” she told reporters at a news briefing in New York.

Mr. Ban, who was at a climate change conference in Bali, issued a statement condemning the bombing as “base, indecent and unjustifiable by even the most barbarous political standard.” He said he had ordered an immediate review of United Nations security precautions and policies in Algeria.

The first bomb exploded shortly before 9:30 a.m. outside Algeria’s Constitutional Council in the Ben Aknoun neighborhood. The council oversees the country’s elections. The bomb stripped away the facade of the white Moorish-style building, which had only recently been built by a Chinese construction company. The bus carrying the students who were killed was on its way to the nearby Ben Aknoun university campus when the explosion occurred.

The bomb near the United Nations building exploded about 10 minutes later on narrow Émile Payen Street, collapsing much of the white multistory building and hurling chunks of rubble across the street. It left the roadway carpeted for blocks with shattered glass.

The organizations housed in the damaged building include the United Nations Development Program, the World Food Program, the Population Fund, the International Labor Organization and the Industrial Development Organization, as well as the Safety and Security Office and the Public Information offices.

The blast sheered the front walls off nearby buildings, including one housing the United Nations refugee agency. At least one staff member was killed there.

Ms. Okabe said the United Nations had 19 permanent international staff members in Algeria and 21 temporary ones. She said the United Nations employed 110 local staff members in the country.

It was the first time that a recent bombing campaign by Islamist militants had touched the area, a quiet residential neighborhood known as Hydra, which is home to many embassies and their diplomats, on the so-called heights of Algiers. While security in the area is relatively tight, traffic was not restricted in front of the United Nations building.

The message posted by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb identified one of the men it said was a bomber as Ibrahim Abu Uthman, who had a gray moustache and appeared to be in his 50s. The second, identified as Abdul Rahman Abu Abdul Nasser Al-Aassemi, was younger and smiling. The message said each detonated a truck containing about 1,800 pounds of explosives.

Several witnesses reported seeing a white truck or van drive into the United Nations compound moments before the blast.

President Bush condemned the attacks, calling them “senseless violence.”

“The United States stands with the people of Algeria, as well as the United Nations, as they deal with this senseless violence,” the White House said in a statement. The United States military and intelligence agencies have been active in helping Algeria combat terrorist threats.

The 11th has become a day of choice for major Islamic terrorist attacks, beginning with those in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, followed by one in Djerba, Tunisia, on April 11, 2002, and one in Madrid on March 11, 2004. On April 11, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb exploded two car bombs in the capital, killing 33.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was founded in 1998 as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, an offshoot of the Armed Islamic Group, which along with other Islamist guerrilla forces fought a brutal decade-long civil war after the Algerian military canceled elections in early 1992 because an Islamist party was poised to win.

The group’s stated aim is to overthrow the government and install an Islamic theocracy in Algeria and throughout North Africa.

In 2003, a leader of the Salafist group in southern Algeria kidnapped 32 European tourists, some of whom were released for a ransom of about $7.3 million, paid by Germany.

Officials say the group’s leader, Amari Saifi, bought weapons and recruited fighters before the United States military helped corner and catch him in 2004. He is now serving a life sentence in Algeria.

While most estimates put the current membership of the group in the hundreds, it has survived more than a decade of Algerian government attempts to eradicate it. It is now the best organized and best financed terrorist group in the region.

Last year, on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Al Qaeda chose the Salafist group as its representative in North Africa. In January, the group reciprocated by switching its name to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, saying Mr. bin Laden had ordered the change.

Following the name change, the group became increasingly active with a string of bombings across the country.

A Sept. 6 attack during President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s visit to the eastern city of Batna killed 22 people, and a suicide-bombing two days later on a coast guard barracks in the town of Dellys left at least 28 dead.

The government has responded with a counterinsurgency campaign that has killed dozens of the group’s members and captured several of their leaders.

Under the leadership of Abdelmalek Droukdel, the group has also made an effort to emerge as part of the global Islamic jihad and now draws support from beyond Algeria’s borders.

Javier Jordán, director of Athena Intelligence, a Spanish research group focused on Islamist issues, said intelligence sources had tracked Islamists traveling between Algeria and the Afghan-Pakistani border region or Iraq. “This is not just a question of a new brand, but of operational links,” he said.

Mr. Jordán said the timing and choice of targets in Tuesday’s attacks appeared to confirm the group’s “growing global focus and its evolution into an arm of Al Qaeda.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 2nd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Invitation to attend the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) and the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (CCAA / IDRC) program’s joint side event at the UNFCCC COP 13 in Bali.

“Adapting to climate change in Africa: towards regional solutions”

6 December 2007, 20:00 – 21:30
Grand Hyatt Hotel, Solar room

The speakers:

Ms Fatima Denton, Program Leader, Climate Change Adaptation in Africa program (International Development Research Centre, IDRC)
Mr. Al-Hamndou Dorsouma, Climate focal point, the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS)
Mr. Josué Dioné, Director, Food Security and Sustainable Development Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

Mr. Sékou Touré, Conflict Resolution Commissioner, Global Environment Facility (GEF) [to be confirmed]
Chair: Mr. Youba Sokona, Executive Secretary, the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS)

The recent IPCC assessments reiterate that Africa is the continent most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. The panel will explore steps needed to address climate change on a regional basis. The discussion will touch on key issues including land degradation, food security and water resources management. The panellists will demonstrate the benefits of a regional approach to devising adaptation strategies and formulating policy responses to climate change in Africa.

Jihed Ghannem
Communications Officer
The Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS)
Boulevard du Leader Arafat
BP 31-1080 Tunis, Tunisia
T: +216 71 20 66 33 F: +216 71 20 66 36

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 26th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

FROM UNDP :

Regional Governance Forum Challenges Africa’s Heads of State on Transparency, Legitimacy, Participation African countries commit to strengthening state capacities for good governance.

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 26 October 26, 2007 — After three days of around-the-clock deliberations, the 300 delegates at the Seventh Africa Governance Forum (AGF VII) here agreed today on recommendations to boost the efficiency and responsiveness of African governments to deliver essential social services to their people. Their proposals will be presented to Presidents and Prime Ministers from across the region at the next African Union Summit.

Capped off by a dialogue with Burkina Faso’s President, Blaise Compaore; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; and Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem of Algeria, the AGF VII brought together government officials, civil society representatives, journalists and business leaders from more than 30 countries under the theme “Building the Capable State in Africa.” A flagship governance initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the AGF VII was convened by the agency’s Regional Bureau for Africa.

“The Ouagadougou Summit is for us an opportunity to remind the international community about the importance of additional support to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals,” said President Compaore.

Having hosted the 2006 edition of the AGF in Kigali, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said that the region has made much progress, with rising economic growth rates, democratic elections in many countries, increased space for civil society and the media, and the creation of effective regional institutions. Despite these advancements, he noted, many African states have low capacity, leaving them unable to lift their citizens out of poverty. “The creation of the capable state in Africa is long overdue. These discussions have been going on for a long time. It is now time to translate these discussions into actions.”

During the Forum, participants focused on the following topics:

Redefining the role of the state and development challenges in Africa;
Developing institutional and human capacity for public sector performance;
State legitimacy and leadership;
Strengthening state performance through decentralized governance;
The role of non-state actors;
Globalization and state capacity; and
The role of women in building the capable state in Africa: challenges and opportunities.

In their “Commitment of Ouagadougou,” participants assert that capacity is one of the key missing links to development and democratization in Africa. They identify a number of challenges which factor into Africa’s capacity equation, including the need to improve popular participation and electoral systems; peace and security issues, such as preventing and resolving conflicts; service delivery, including investments in education, health, water and sanitation, and housing; economic governance, especially the effective and transparent use of natural resources and transparency in accounting and contracting and procurement systems; promoting civil society and media development and supporting marginalized groups like youth; globalization; and gender, including how to ensure that women have access to education, land and credit.

The delegates recommend 11 steps to help strengthen the capacities of the state in Africa – from increasing government efforts to consolidate the rule of law (mainly by ensuring the efficiency, integrity and independence of the judiciary); invest in education, with a view to nurturing future generations; factor women’s participation into the process of building a capable state in Africa – to placing importance on good governance as a guarantee of political stability so as to improve the quality of people’s lives.

They challenge African Heads of State to take the “Commitment of Ouagadougou” seriously and put its recommendations to good use.

A high point of the Forum was the presence of Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique and Chairman of the African Forum, who peacefully left the reigns of his country in 2005 and was recently named the first winner of the Mo Ibrahim Award, which recognizes African countries and former presidents for their achievements in good governance in Africa. During the opening ceremony he said that political change is taking hold in Africa. “Increasingly, African States have renounced the culture of military and single party rule and presidency for life. I stand before you as a clear testimony to the emergence of this new form of political governance in Africa.”

On the sidelines of the Forum, UNDP, in collaboration with the Reuters Foundation, conducted a media dialogue for journalists from AGF countries. The dialogue provided participating journalists an opportunity to explore from a media point of view the meaning and definition of a capable state in Africa and hear about the prevailing capacity development challenges and opportunities. The agenda for the media dialogue included an exclusive group interview with President Chissano and a briefing by Protais Musoni, Rwanda’s Minister of Local Administration, Good Governance, Community Development and Social Affairs.

“At the heart of all development challenges that African governments are facing is the lack of capacity to deliver education, water, sanitation, health, electrical power, telecommunications or roads to their people,” said Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, UNDP Regional Director for Africa. “Human development is ultimately defined by degree of access to these services. I hope that the countries and partners represented here will take home the message that building capacity for effective service delivery is the critical element in the agenda for building the capable state in Africa.”

The AGF was conceived as a UNDP joint initiative with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Previous AGFs have focused on the African Peer Review Mechanism, Local Governance for Poverty Eradication, Parliament as an Instrument for Good Governance, Conflict Management for Durable Peace and Sustainable Development, Accountability and Transparency in Africa and Meeting the Governance Challenge in Africa.

The following countries participated in the Forum: Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. In addition, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Guinea Conakry, Mali and Niger attended as observers.

For more information, please visit: www.undp.org/africa/agf/agf7_home…

For press queries, please contact:

In Ouagadougou:
Cassandra Waldon:  casandra.waldon at undp.org, Cell Phone: +1-917-432-7965, +226-76-940-793
Theophane Kinda:  theophane.kinda at undp.org, Cell Phone: +226-70-218-256
Simon Omoding:  simon.omoding at undp.org, Cell Phone: +226-76-337-681

In New York:
Niamh Collier-Smith:  niamh.collier at undp.org: Office: +1-212-906-6111

UNDP is the UN’s global development network advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners.

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