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Isla del encanto?

With all the dust that's been* riled up by Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor (previously), everyone is suddenly taking an interest in Puerto Rico. A basic question that may come up is why we're there in the first place. Understanding that, we can see how the complicated relationship has played out between Puerto Rico, the US, and, most recently, the United Nations. Although the UN has urged the US to take steps towards establishing Puerto Rico's sovereignty, referendums held on the island have overwhelmingly preferred the status quo and the US has been indifferent at best. But independence activists, after a twenty-year decline, may be on the rise. The island's current governor, Luis Fortuño, is pro-statehood. But the whole issue has taken a back seat since plans have been made to fire 30,000 government workers, privatize some public services, and sell some the the government's US$3.2 billion debt. [more inside]
posted by krikkit261 on Jun 10, 2009 - 26 comments

"So Say We All"

Fantasy Meets Reality. The very best works of science fiction illuminate controversial current events and the intricacies of human nature. So, it's no surprise that the United Nations Public Information Department and the Sci Fi (SyFy?) Channel co-hosted a panel yesterday evening on "humanitarian concerns" at the UN, with the creators and actors of Battlestar Galactica -- a show which regularly explores those themes. A 2-hour video webcast is archived here. (RealPlayer video). Entertainment Weekly has an additional write-up. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 18, 2009 - 57 comments

Peace: Still a Man's Thang

In 2001, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325 on Women's Role on Peace-Building and Security, calling for increased participation by women in conflict resolution and peace negotiations. Eight years later, "in terms of signing the peace documents and being at the peace table and involved in the peace-making operations, 1.3 percent of all the signatures in the world on these peacekeeping documents have been rendered by women." (Stephen Lewis, former UN special envoy), and as of 2007, women constituted only 1% of peacekeeping military personnel. Could increasing women's participation also help reduce sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers?
posted by terranova on Mar 3, 2009 - 5 comments

Are we still the world?

From A-lister to Aid worker: Does celebrity diplomacy really work? Rock stars," asked Homer Simpson, with his customary sagacity, "is there anything they don't know?" Only these days, of course, it's not just rockers but movie stars and businessmen – and indeed anyone with an above-average public profile – who, for one reason or another, are intent on telling the rest of us how the world should be changed for the better. Or at least, that's how it seems. So much so that a conference of eminent professors of international relations assembled recently in The Hague to explore the modern phenomenon of what they call "celebrity diplomacy", amid fears that it has reached the point where superstar lobbyists are damaging the traditional workings of international diplomacy and global politics.
posted by infini on Jan 16, 2009 - 16 comments

Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60th Anniversary

Sixty years ago on December 10, fifty eight nations created the UN Declaration of Human Rights. [more inside]
posted by Fiasco da Gama on Dec 9, 2008 - 20 comments

Remaking the case for humanitarian intervention abroad.

From The Economist (remember who they endorsed recently?): What Congo Means for Obama.
posted by allkindsoftime on Nov 25, 2008 - 31 comments

We admire your work

We know the NSA is watching. They have corporate buddies to help them out. But now they've found a true ideological soul mate - China [more inside]
posted by cimbrog on Sep 18, 2008 - 67 comments

Saved and Depoliticised at One Stroke

"The most startling features of Kosovo, now that the cleansing of the Serbian minority is on hold, are the poverty of the province ... and the pitiful economy that keeps it locked in." [more inside]
posted by geoff. on Jul 15, 2008 - 7 comments

A Changing Neighborhood

Before and after sattellite photos (along with much more information) of the effects of climate change over the past 30 years are available through UNEP's (the United Nations Environment Programme) Atlas of Our Changing Environment (Via)
posted by Kronos_to_Earth on Jun 11, 2008 - 28 comments

Mugabe Attempts to Beat Zimbabwe into Submission

"'If voters fail to return Mr. Mugabe to office...Prepare to be a war correspondent.' Mugabe's party in Zimbabwe spasms into mass repression and political violence to prevent Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change from winning power. The African Union dithers, as does the UN (as it gives Zimbabwe leadership positions). Many Chinese rationalize their government's weapon shipment. According to the government-published Herald, everything's just fine. What are the options?
posted by shivohum on May 8, 2008 - 29 comments

World Governments & Accountability

Social Watch monitors the progress of efforts, articulated in numerous international agreements (1 2 3), to end poverty and increase equality worldwide. By coordinating the reports of a network of citizens' organizations, Social Watch aims to keep tabs on progress toward specific initiatives in each country, lobbying national governments as appropriate. Search by country for a snapshot of social and economic progress. Browse various measures of stability and meaningful development. Lots more, including meaty, well-documented reports and statistics, and holy crapola, nice graphics.
posted by Rykey on Apr 5, 2008 - 6 comments

Victor Bout, the Merchant of Death, has been caught.

NYT Article The man who served as inspiration for the 2005 Nicolas Cage's 2005 flick "Lord of War," arms trafficer Victor Bout, has been arrested in Thailand. [more inside]
posted by krautland on Mar 6, 2008 - 28 comments

I for one welcome our new "Controllers"

It's official. The aliens are coming. In 2017. Turns out they might like The Beatles after all. The UN is on the case. The Hindus are going to be especially upset.
posted by monospace on Feb 29, 2008 - 21 comments

Global Development By The Numbers

The new UN Human Development Report is out. Lots of interesting stuff on climate change. But for me, nothing beats the Human Development Index, a number that means different things to different people.
posted by StrikeTheViol on Nov 28, 2007 - 8 comments

Scientists are getting a bit nervous.

In what it calls "the final wake-up call to the international community," a UN report (press release, website, 21 MB PDF) warns that damage to the environment is reaching a "point of no return" and now threatens "humanity's very survival." Oh, c'mon, tell us what you really think.
posted by salvia on Oct 25, 2007 - 118 comments

Ahimsa

On June 15th, 2007, the UN unanimously adopted a resolution declaring October 2 to be the "International Day of Non-Violence." October 2 is also Gandhi Jayanti, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi,a national holiday in India in honor of the man called the "Father of the Nation". Previously on Mefi, Gandhi's heirs - five champions of non violence and Everything you wanted to know about Gandhi. [more inside]
posted by infini on Oct 2, 2007 - 24 comments

Allí, ese 16 de marzo, Bush, Blair y Aznar decidieron sustituir al Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas y usurparon sus funciones para declarar por su cuenta y riesgo la guerra contra Irak.

Bush and Aznar pre-Iraq Invasion-- Transcript of their private conversations in Crawford, Feb 22, 2003: "Quedan dos semanas. En dos semanas estaremos militarmente listos. Estaremos en Bagdad a finales de marzo", le dijo a Aznar. ("2 weeks. In 2 weeks we will be ready militarily. We'll be in Baghdad by the end of March", he told Aznar.) Consider this historical documentation. Full transcript here, and audio clips in first link. [more inside]
posted by amberglow on Sep 25, 2007 - 46 comments

Path to Freedom?

The fight to free Burma has been making noise lately. Protests are picking up in Burma, international activists are putting pressure on the UN to step in, and Jim Carrey has joined as yet another celebrity to try to bring public attention to the effort. Burma is an amazing place and the Burmese people are some of the warmest, most hospitable, beautiful, and silliest people I have ever encountered. The people of Burma deserve a better world. Is the tide shifting? Will this be a turning point for Burma? I hope so.
posted by crawfishpopsicle on Aug 29, 2007 - 29 comments

SPOILER: NYC wins.

Estimated cocaine consumption based on waste-water analysis (expressed as cocaine lines* per day per 1000 Inhabitants, age 15-64) *1 line was here assumed to be equivalent to 100 milligram of cocaine. --page 272

This, and much more, in the UN 2007 World Drug Report (pdf). HTML homepage.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Aug 1, 2007 - 49 comments

Gordon Brown speaks about global poverty at the UN.

"It is time to call it what it is: a development emergency which needs emergency action". Gordon Brown speaks to the UN about global poverty. Link goes to full text of speech, video is available from the same page.
posted by teleskiving on Jul 31, 2007 - 3 comments

Thomas Barnett draws a new map for Whirled Peas

TED does it again. See you in Monterey. What happens when the war machine goes improv?
posted by MapGuy on Jun 20, 2007 - 49 comments

Kurt Waldheim, R.I.P.

Kurt Waldheim dies at 88: Wehrmacht lieutenant, Fourth Secretary-General of the United Nations, President of Austria. R.I.P.
posted by taosbat on Jun 14, 2007 - 38 comments

Arrested British sailors were gathering intelligence on Iran while on UN mandate?

Releaed British navy commander: We were gathering intelligence on Iran (Watch the interview)
Tony Blair: The sailors were on a legitimate UN mandate
The Observer: The MoD confirmed last night that the Iranians had made the claim that they had become interested in Cornwall's activities after learning about it on British television, but denied the decision to allow the ship's crew to be interviewed while on active duty had jeopardised the mission.
posted by hoder on Apr 8, 2007 - 30 comments

Because Britney's lack of hair is more important.

You would think that with 4,000 women and 200 girls together, along with hundreds of NGOs and representatives of 45 governments the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women would be well covered by the media. Sadly, it is not: this year only 10 journalists demanded media accreditation to cover the international meeting, while pro-life groups are more than happy to send delegates arguing that "governments should protect girls from the moment of conception." The Commission however is no small event: it provided a legal frame protecting the rights of women and girls worldwide (those rights were officially adopted in the early 90s [!]). It also provides standards to which participant countries must try live up to. This blog takes us backstage, behind the CSW's scene.
posted by Sijeka on Mar 6, 2007 - 21 comments

Human Development Report 2006

Clean water is a right: "The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published its annual report on human development. It denounces the world's complacent disregard for such unglamorous subjects as standpipes, latrines and the 1.8m children who die each year from diarrhoea because the authorities cannot keep their drinking water separate from their faeces. The study is both coldly analytical and angry..."
posted by kliuless on Nov 24, 2006 - 18 comments

This will end badly

Compassionate Slavery. A representative of the World Trade Organization proposes foreign corporate "stewardship" of workers in Africa from the moment they are hired until they die, describing it as "the best available solution to African poverty, and the inevitable result of free-market theory".
posted by Pastabagel on Nov 14, 2006 - 24 comments

Blog of UN diplomat

When you have a blog, and you're the Special Representative of the UN in Darfur, be careful about what you write. Jan Pronk's blog gives you a good idea in what a high level UN diplomat actually does, and how difficult it is to get anything done in a country torn by war. Oh, and check these photos out, if you just want the non-political goodness.
posted by Harry on Oct 25, 2006 - 11 comments

China may back coup against Kim

Newsfilter: North Korea's response to a toothless UN resolution may be a second nuclear test. With military solutions pretty much off the table, it may be up to rival factions within the DPRK to topple the regime. NK coups have been discussed here before, and the end result may not be as pretty as one would hope, but maybe this time the Chinese have had enough.
posted by ernie on Oct 17, 2006 - 57 comments

How Much is a Seat on the Security Council Worth? Foreign Aid and Bribery at the United Nations

How Much is a Seat on the Security Council Worth? Foreign Aid and Bribery at the United Nations. A paper from a doctoral student at the Harvard Business School, and an employee of the National Bureau of Economic Research has found a correlation between serving on the United Nations Security Council, and the amount of aid received from the United States and the UN. The paper will be printed in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Political Economy. From the abstract: "Ten of the fifteen seats on the U.N. Security Council are held by rotating members serving two-year terms. We find that a country’s U.S. aid increases by 59 percent and its U.N. aid by 8 percent when it rotates onto the council. This effect increases during years in which key diplomatic events take place (when members’ votes should be especially valuable) and the timing of the effect closely tracks a country’s election to, and exit from, the council. Finally, the U.N. results appear to be driven by UNICEF, an organization over which the United States has historically exerted great control." The Harvard Business School working paper can be found here. Commentary from Steven Levitt (the co-author of Freakonomics) can be found here.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow on Aug 29, 2006 - 17 comments

United Nations Resolution Achieved.

Not just another news blip; UN Security Council passes Lebanon cease-fire resolution. The resolution calls for a "full cessation of hostilities" and tells Hezbollah to stop all attacks immediately and Israel to end "all offensive operations". Let's hope this brings about an end to all the madness.
posted by Second Account For Making Jokey Comments on Aug 11, 2006 - 77 comments

As long as it's backed by some Israel company, I don't want to have anything to do with it.

"NUKE ISRAEL!... Hezbollah, where can I enlist?"
Jani Taskinen, one of the lead PHP developers, has upped and quit. Why? Because Jani has served as a UN peacekeeper, Zend is run by Israelis, and, well, you work out the rest.
posted by reklaw on Jul 28, 2006 - 105 comments

The "Axe Murder Incident"

The "Axe Murder Incident" On Wednesday 18 August 1976 at 1040 hours in the morning, a United Nations Command (UNC) work force of five Korean Service Corps (KSC) personnel accompanied by and UNC security force...started to prune a large tree in the vicinity of UNC Check Point #3...Lieutenant Pak then shouted "MI KUN UL CHU KI GI CHA." Translated, it means, "Kill the U.S. Aggressors."; the UNC security force was attacked by a superior force of 30 KPA guards wielding pick handles, knives, clubs, and axes.
posted by Postroad on Mar 14, 2006 - 20 comments

The UN Detention Unit

How is life for accused war criminals (see e.g. drag-down list at top) awaiting trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia? Stimulating if they enjoy chess or model ships, according to this brief Slate dispatch. How well do such alleged monsters need to be accommodated?
posted by grobstein on Jan 9, 2006 - 39 comments

Bush Threatens U.N. Over Clinton Climate Speech

Bush Threatens U.N. Over Clinton Climate Speech Bush-administration officials privately threatened organizers of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, telling them that any chance there might’ve been for the United States to sign on to the Kyoto global-warming protocol would be scuttled if they allowed Bill Clinton to speak at the gathering today in Montreal,
posted by Postroad on Dec 9, 2005 - 115 comments

A world without Israel or a UN without Iran?

Newsfilter: If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the destruction of Israel, would anybody listen? Apparently this time they are. While vague threats from Iran are a dime a dozen, "Since 1945, the establishment of the United Nations, no head of state which is a member of the United Nations ever called for the destruction of another member of the United Nations, publicly and clearly, as the president of Iran did." according to Shimon Peres, in demanding that Iran be expelled from the UN for the statement. Much of the world seems pretty upset (including the US, who's destruction was also called for on this merry "World without Zionism" conference), but will it lead to anything, or is it just a ratcheting up of the hyperbole between Iran and the IAEA?
posted by loquax on Oct 27, 2005 - 111 comments

Keep Internet out of UN control, says US

The Bush administration is backing a US Senate resolution to stop the UN in its plans to try and move some control of the Internet away from the US -- A new resolution introduced in the U.S. Senate offers political backing to the Bush administration by slamming a United Nations effort to exert more influence over the Internet. Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican from Minnesota, said his nonbinding resolution would protect the Internet from a takeover by the United Nations that's scheduled to be discussed at a summit in Tunisia next month.
posted by zouhair on Oct 20, 2005 - 102 comments

Are americans poor ?

UN Hits Back at US in Report Saying Parts of America are as Poor as Third World Parts of the United States are as poor as the Third World, according to a shocking United Nations report on global inequality.
posted by zouhair on Oct 15, 2005 - 95 comments

Norway

Norway is the world's third largest oil exporter and western Europe's largest gas producer. It has been saving oil revenues in a fund worth around $190 billion for future generations. Norway has an amazing welfare system. The Daily Show's book hit the nail on the head (pdf)(see 1967/93) Norwegians love hot dogs so much that a university professor wants to ban them. What an interesting country! They have a priest as their Prime Minister, but for how long? . Oslo, the country's capital, is the most expensive place to live... But minimum wage is far higher than in the US. They have had state accepted unions of same-sex couples since the early 90's. Norway isn't part of the EU.

Today Norway sits on approximately half of the remaining reserves of oil and gas in Europe.. And even though Norway's oil production has dropped, it still remains a huge supplier of oil to the US. But, no matter what, they will be okay.. Oh yeah.... the UN just said that it is the best place to live (pdf) in the world. (p.s The US went from 7th to 10th in the last year...wonder why?)
posted by thedoctorpants on Sep 9, 2005 - 89 comments

Something has to be done

OpenDemocracy It's terrible terrible that the one institution which was created at the end of World War II to prevent any future wars from occurring. It is going to be the next place where these fasicists are going to be gunning for.
posted by N8k99 on Sep 8, 2005 - 37 comments

A Blot??

In an interview with American ABC TV news to be broadcast on Friday (US time), Colin Powell , former Secretary of State, describes his speech to the UN Security Council on Iraq's WMD capabilities as "a blot" on his record. "I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and (it) will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now," [Powell] said. Finally, some recognition of this fact, albeit two years too late.
posted by Effigy2000 on Sep 8, 2005 - 61 comments

What would you do with the UN?

Leader of a major global governmental entity takes responsibility for massive failures of management within his organisation, showing humility and expressing regret. No, not him. Now, if I was in charge...
posted by klaatu on Sep 7, 2005 - 32 comments

Democracy in Action

Bush to Senate: Go to Hell. As expected, President Bush bypassed the confirmation process and made a recess appointment to elevate John Bolton to the post of US ambassador to the United Nations, brushing off what he calls "partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators." Bolton was previously discussed on MeFi here.
posted by digaman on Aug 1, 2005 - 213 comments

The culture of peace is advancing

The culture of peace is advancing according to accounts from all regions of the world. This is the conclusion from information submitted by almost 700 organisations and summarised in a report which has been formally submitted to the United Nations Secretary-General by the Bangladeshi Ambassador to the UN, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury. This report provides the first comprehensive view of the progress of the global movement for a culture of peace, since it was called for in 1999 by United Nations Resolution A/53/243. The advance of the culture of peace comes despite almost total neglect from the mass media, according to most accounts from all regions.
posted by UbuRoivas on Jul 10, 2005 - 21 comments

UN Drug Day (Anti)

Hey! Didn't anybody notice that today is the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, sponsored by those bleeding hearts at the UN? The UNODC is declaring "even occasional use of marijuana is a link in a long and dangerous cycle of crime, degradation and terrorism." In Afghanistan, 30 -or is it 60?- tons of drugs have been burned in large bonfires (If they're not sure how much, blame the contact high). Meanwhile China celebrated the day with a massive demonstraton and a few executions. The United Arab Emarites is issuing a stamp. And the U.S.ofA.? Well, it's on the State Department Calendar, but the Office of National Drug Control Policy has never heard of it. Still, you can send an Anti-Drugs Day Greeting to someone you know (is a user).

BREAKING NEWS: In Kenya, 49 Killed, Hundreds Harmed by Poisoned... er... Alcohol. (nevermind)
posted by wendell on Jun 26, 2005 - 35 comments

The Hidden History of the United Nations

The Hidden History of the United Nations: "The history told about the defeat of Nazism and the founding of the United Nations in the 1940s has become distorted. A false view of the past is being used today to shape how we think about our future. The military power of the victorious wartime allies is offered as a model for running the world, while the UN’s supposed utopianism is seen as ineffective and irrelevant. This is a travesty of the facts."
posted by jenleigh on Jun 4, 2005 - 15 comments

before and after

Atlas reveals global devastation....... a new atlas just released by the UN showing before and after satellite imagery of the last 30 years (more or less) of human impact. NEATO!
posted by tarantula on Jun 4, 2005 - 22 comments

Terror from the Inside

"If you don't like that, I'm sorry." Jon Bolton, Bush nominee for Ambassador to the UN, discusses the United Nations with humility and patriotic aplomb.
posted by a thousand writers drunk at the keyboard on Jun 2, 2005 - 124 comments

Interview with Tadatoshi Akiba

A fascinating interview with Dr. Tadatoshi Akiba, mayor of Hiroshima and president of Mayors for Peace. Dr. Akiba is New York for the UN conference on the Nuclear Nonproliferation treaty, and he took the time for some eloquent straight talk about the nuclear weapons and international politics. (First link is to a real audio file.)
posted by fingers_of_fire on May 2, 2005 - 5 comments

And Bolton hasn't even started yet

UN investigator who exposed US army abuse forced out of his job.
posted by Pretty_Generic on Apr 24, 2005 - 47 comments

Bolton in trouble

Bush nominee to the U.N. John Bolton center of Washington controversy. Bolton is being characterized by many witnesses as being, in essence, a bully. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CN) says that Bolton should simply step down, as the damage to his potential effectiveness at the U.N. is already done.

Pshaw! say conservatives. This is just a political Borking of Bush's pick by bitter Democrats.

posted by zardoz on Apr 24, 2005 - 87 comments

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