New Books

Fotor0509145516

Charlotte Mires’ Capital of the World is an entertaining account of the race to host the UN’s headquarters in the mid-1940s. New York City won the privilege in the end but Mires takes us through the twists and turns of the origins of the ‘world capital’ including plans from South Dakota, Michigan, St. Louis and Westchester County and she tells us the story of Prescott Bush’s opposition to building the headquarters in Greenwich, Connecticut which was the UN’s first choice.

Anne Hammerstad’s The Rise and Decline of a Global Security Actor tracks the UN Refugee Agency’s rise in the 1990s as a major actor in the global security arena and its post-9/11 return to a more independent role as its major donors fought wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with both these countries soon becoming the top source countries for refugees.

Providing Peacekeepers examines the challenges and demands of generating some 120,000 troops to serve in UN peacekeeping missions. The book has sections on the permanent five members of the Security Council, traditional troop contributor countries and emerging troop contributor countries.

We The Peoples: A UN for the 21st Century is a collection of Kofi Annan’s speeches arranged thematically and regionally covering such topics as human rights, peace and security, the Middle East, Africa, and development. The book is edited by Annan’s former speechwriter, Edward Mortimer.

UN Lag on Female Peacekeepers

 June 24, 2013 – Less than four percent of the UN’s 90,551 uniformed peacekeepers deployed in 16 missions throughout the world are women, according to the most recent figures available from the Dept. of Peacekeeping Operations.

These numbers came into focus today as the Security Council debated Resolution 1325, passed in 2000 and which calls for women’s full and equal participation in peacemaking and for an end to sexual violence in conflict. According to the resolution, recruiting more female military or police officers is a means of better protecting the safety and rights of women and girls.

In 2009, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a campaign to increase the number of  women peacekeepers to 20 percent in police units by 2014, and to 10 percent in military contingents.

Those targets are nowhere near being met. Women comprise about 10 percent of UN peacekeeping police units (1,251/12,480) and less than 3 percent of the military contingents (2,259/78,091). 

But the UN is hardly to blame for these numbers as it relies on member states to contribute troops for its peacekeeping missions and, globally, women are under-represented in police and army forces.

Just 7 percent of Delhi’s police force are women and 16 percent of the NYPD’s most recent graduating class were women.

On the military side, women make up about 15 percent of active US army service members, while in Norway, which tops many gender equality indexes, only about 10 percent of the country’s military is female. 

– Denis Fitzgerald

(photo: UN Photo/Saw Lwin)       

Competing Draft Statements Illustrate UNSC Division on Syria

image
Syria’s UN envoy, Bashar Jaafari, speaks outside the Security Council chamber on Thurs Oct 4. He offered condolences for the shelling inside Turkey but no apology saying the incident is under investigation (photo credit: UN Photo)

Oct 8, 2012 – Illustrative of the Security Council’s division on Syria are the competing draft statements that were circulated last week when the 15-nation body endeavored to speak on Syrian shelling inside Turkey.

Here’s the original Western-backed draft proposed Wednesday (Oct 3) by non-permanent Council member Azerbaijan, on behalf of Turkey:

“The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the shelling by the Syrian armed forces of the Turkish town of Akcakale which resulted in the deaths of five civilians, all of whom were women and children, as well as a number of injuries. The members of the Security Council expressed their sincere condolences to the Government and people of Turkey, and to the families of the victims.

This represents a demonstration of the spilling over of the crisis in Syria into neighboring states to an alarming degree.

Such violations of international law constitute a serious threat to international peace and security. The members of the Council demanded that such violations stop immediately.

The members of the Security Council call on the Syria Government to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbours.”

Here’s the draft as amended by Russia:

“The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the shelling from the Syrian territory of the Turkish town of Akcakale which resulted in the deaths of five civilians, all of whom were women and children, as well as a number of injuries. The members of the Security Council expressed their sincere condolences to the Government and people of Turkey, and to the families of the victims.

This represents a demonstration of the spilling over of the crisis in Syria into neighboring states to an alarming degree. The members of the Council demanded that such violations stop immediately. The members of the Security Council requested the Government of Syria to carry out a speedy and full investigation of the shelling. The members of the Security Council called on the Syrian Government to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbours.

The members of the Security Council called on the parties to exercise restraint and avoid military clashes which could lead to a further escalation of the situation in the border area between Syria and Turkey, as well as to reduce tensions and forge a path toward a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis.” 

Syrian Armed Forces becomes Syrian territory, violations of international law that threatened international peace and security simply become violations and the Syrian government is asked to conduct a speedy investigation. 

Here’s the final statement as agreed by all 15 Council members on Thursday evening (Oct 4):

“The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the shelling by the Syrian armed forces of the Turkish town of Akcakale, which resulted in the deaths of five civilians, all of whom were women and children, as well as a number of injuries. The members of the Security Council expressed their sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Turkey. 

The members of the Security Council underscored that this incident highlighted the grave impact the crisis in Syria has on the security of its neighbours and on regional peace and stability. The members of the Council demanded that such violations of international law stop immediately and are not repeated. The members of the Security Council called on the Syrian Government to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbours. 

The members of the Security Council called for restraint.”

Both sides got some of what they wanted in the final version. Key for Russia is deletion of the phrase “a serious threat to international peace and security,” which speaks directly to the Council’s mandate, – maintaing international peace and security – and instead the shelling is a threat to “regional peace and stability.”

For the West, Syrian armed forces are squarely blamed and the statement demands an end to “such violations of international law.” 

– Denis Fitzgerald