According to the 2013 UNICEF Report on Improving Child Nutrition - The Achievable Imperative for Global Progress, one-third of the world’s under nourished children are in India and an estimated 61 million, half of the total child population in the country, are stunted due to chronic undernutrition.
While progress towards reducing child underweight in India has been made, it has been uneven. The 2010 UNICEF Report on Progress for Children: Achieving MDGs with Equity highlights that in India, the prevalence of underweight in children below five years in the richest 20 per cent of the households decreased from 37 per cent in 1992 to 25 per cent in 2006, whereas the corresponding reduction in the poorest 20 per cent households was negligible, from 64 per cent to 61 per cent.
A baby girl born today will still face inequality and discrimination, no matter where her mother lives. We have a common obligation to ensure her right to live free from the violence that affects one in three women globally; to earn equal pay for equal work; to be free of the discrimination that prevents her from participating in the economy; to have an equal say in the decisions that affect her life; and to decide if and when she will have children, and how many she will have.
During Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to the U.N. General Assembly meeting in September, a U.S. diplomat presented this griffin-shaped chalice to an Iranian counterpart. The chalice, thought to have been looted from an Iranian cave, dates to the 7th century BC, some experts believe. (Mehdi Moazen / Islamic Republic News Agency / November 30, 2013)
A gesture of respect will gain more ground than all the showing of teeth there is. Iran has a people and a histiry that truly deserve our attention and respect. It’s a shame that the countries have been so distant for so long. With all due concern for what has gone wrong, I welcome closer ties. The kind that reduce mistrust and anger.
WASHINGTON — Many paths led to the international agreement to temporarily curb Iran’s nuclear program: secret meetings in Oman, formal negotiations in Geneva, and a quiet encounter in New York involving two diplomats and an exquisite silver chalice in the shape of a mythical winged creature.
The latter session led in September to the return of the chalice to Iran, where officials hailed it as a gesture of friendship by the United States. The move was orchestrated by a mid-level diplomat at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations who devised a way to work around a 30-year absence in formal relations.
The United Kingdom has drafted a resolution to be put forward to the United Nations Security Council over Syria, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said Wednesday.
Downing Street said “Britain has drafted a resolution condemning the chemical weapons attack by (the regime of Syrian President Bashar) Assad and authorizing necessary measures to protect civilians.”
Downing Street said that the U.K. wanted the Security Council to “live up to its responsibilities on Syria.”
A draft text has not been released, but the resolution, drafted under the U.N.’s Chapter 7 mandate, will be put forward at a meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council at a meeting in New York later Wednesday.
Four days have passed since Panamanian authorities discovered undeclared military weapons hidden aboard a North Korean ship, and the painstaking process of examining the entire vessel is crawling at a snail’s pace.
The ship has five cargo holds, only one of which has been emptied as of Thursday.
“The technicians on board have told us that this cargo was loaded in a way that makes it difficult to unload,” Panamanian Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said.
The North Korean crew had resisted the Panamanian authorities and cut the cables to the onboard cranes. Panamanian investigators brought their own cranes, but removing the containers inside the cargo holds has been an “odyssey,” Mulino said.
The ship originated in Cuba, and the Cubans have admitted to owning the military equipment, claiming it was being sent to North Korea to be repaired and returned.
But many questions remain. If the weapons were not a secret, why were they hidden under sacks of sugar? Why the did the captain attempt to commit suicide?
A public prosecutor is charging the captain and 35 North Korean crew members with illegal possession of weapons and international arms trafficking, Panamanian government spokesman Eduardo Camacho said.
North Korean officials, meanwhile, asked for Panama to release the cargo ship and let the crew go.
Panama has formally asked the United Nations for guidance on how to handle the case.
“For us, it is important to finish this operation, wait for the United Nations to come, and they will decide” how to proceed, Mulino said. “Panama is completely transparent in this; we have no experience in dealing with this type of problem.”
A Pakistani teenager nearly killed by Taliban gunmen for advocating that all girls should have the right to go to school gave her first formal public remarks Friday at the United Nations. It also happened to be Malala Yousafzai’s 16th birthday.
“Today, it is an honor for me to be speaking again after a long time,” she said. “Being here with such honorable people is a great moment in my life.”
She looked out at an audience of hundreds of children from around the world and U.N. members, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and told them that she was wearing a pink shawl that once belonged to Benazir Bhutto, the two-time prime minister of Pakistan who was killed in 2007 in a suicide attack at a political rally.
“Dear sisters and brothers,” she said, “we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way when we were in Swat, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.
“The extremists were and they are afraid of books and pens,” she said.
“The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.”
This fear is partly based on the Taliban’s own lack of education, Yousafzai said. And, she said, world leaders should “change their strategic policies” to press for peace and ensure that children’s and women’s rights are protected.
“We call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education — all around the world for every child.”
Yousafzai presented Ban, the U.N. secretary-general, with a petition signed by nearly 4 million people in support of the 57 million girls and boys around the world who are denied education.
In October, six men were arrested in connection with the attack on Malala and the other schoolchildren who were on the bus as they headed home from school.
All of the men were released from jail because of a lack of evidence against them.
The one named as the primary suspect, identified by police as Atta Ullah Khan, a 23-year-old man from the Swat district, remains on the run, authorities told CNN.
Khan was studying for a master’s degree in chemistry.
The United Nations welcomed the release on Saturday of 21 Filipino peacekeepers, who had been seized by Syrian rebels on the Golan Heights, as they crossed to freedom in Jordan after a three-day ordeal.
Philippine authorities also expressed relief at the release of the 21 members of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
A Jordanian military official said the peacekeepers were greeted by border guards as they crossed from Syria in the afternoon and “underwent medical examinations.”
They then boarded an army bus and were given a military escort to the east Amman headquarters of the armed forces where they were “handed over to the UN representative in Jordan Costanza Farina in the presence of the Philippines ambassador,” the official added in a statement.
Via the NYT:
As my colleagues Rick Gladstone and Alan Cowell report, 30 armed rebel fighters kidnapped a group of 20 United Nations peacekeepers in the Golan Heights on Wednesday and gave a 24-hour deadline before they would treat the peacekeepers “as prisoners of war.”
The abduction was announced in two video messages posted online by a group calling itself the Martyrs of Yarmouk Brigade that showed two young-looking rebels, one carrying a rifle, standing in front of captured United Nations vehicles. The videos did not clearly show any of the abducted United Nations personnel, although two figures seated in the cab of one of the captured vehicles may have been peacekeepers.
One of the videos posted on YouTube does appear to show the abducted peacekeepers, although they are not the focus of the message. Several people in the signature light blue helmets and vests of the United Nations can be seen inside the captured vehicles while their kidnappers energetically talk about the treachery of both the United Nations and the Syrian government.
Speaking about the United Nations, one rebel shouts, “They are agents of Israel, and the Syrian regime and the United Nations and all the European countries, and the Assad regime, they are all agents of Israel!”
He also calls Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, “an agent of Zionism and America” before the sound of gunfire is heard. “One of the tyrant’s snipers is shooting at us,” he said, before the video ended.
In a second video clip, a young spokesman for the rebels listed their demands.
The spokesman said:
We are holding the forces of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force until the withdrawal of Bashar al-Assad’s forces from the village of al-Jamla and its outskirts to their positions. We ask America, the United Nations and the Security Council that Assad’s forces withdraw to obtain their release. We won’t release them until after the withdrawal of the forces of the regime of Bashar al-Assad from the outskirts of the village of al-Jamla, which is on the border with Israel. We ask them for the complete withdrawal of the forces back to their positions. If the withdrawal does not take place within 24 hours, we will treat them as prisoners of war, and praise be to God almighty.
Fragmentation is the current leitmotif of international geopolitics.
In his masterpiece Diplomacy, Henry Kissinger describes, probably too idyllically, the international balance-of-power system that, following the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15, produced what came to be called the ‘Concert of Europe’. As Kissinger describes it, after the Napoleonic Wars, “There was not only a physical equilibrium, but a moral one. Power and justice were in substantial harmony.” Of course, the concert ended in cacophony with the outbreak of the First World War in the summer of 1914.
Today, after the brutality of the first half of the 20th century, the temporary bipolarity of the Cold War, and the United States’ brief post-1989 hyper-power status, the world is once again searching for a new international order. Can something like the Concert of Europe be globalised? Unfortunately, global cacophony seems more probable. One obvious reason is the absence of a recognised and accepted international referee. The United States, which best embodies ultimate power, is less willing - and less able - to exercise it. And the United Nations, which best embodies the principles of international order, is as divided and impotent as ever.
But, beyond the absence of a referee, another issue looms: the wave of globalisation that followed the end of the Cold War has, paradoxically, accelerated fragmentation, affecting democratic and non-democratic countries alike. From the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia’s violent self-destruction, and Czechoslovakia’s peaceful divorce to today’s centrifugal pressures in Europe, the West, and the major emerging countries, fragmentation has been fundamental to international relations in recent decades.
The information revolution has created a more global, interdependent, and transparent world than ever. But this has led, in turn, to an anxious, Balkan-ising quest for identity. This effort to recover uniqueness is largely the cause of the international system’s growing fragmentation.
In the Concert of Europe, the number of actors was limited, and they were mostly states, whether national or imperial. Essential values were widely shared, and most actors favoured protecting the existing order. In today’s world, by contrast, the nature of the actors involved is no longer so clear. Trans-national forces, states, and non-state actors are all involved, and their goals are complex and sometimes contradictory, with no universal commitment to preserving the status quo.
Who knows, maybe this could be better than the real United Nations.
Dashshund UN, an art instalment currently being staged by Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage festival, has critics’ and audiences’ tails wagging.
A dachshund is petted by its owner before the start of a performance installation “Dachshund UN”, where dogs were used to mimic a United Nations Commission on Human Rights meeting in Toronto
The 50-minute show, developed by Australian artist Bennett Miller, involves 36 dachshunds reenacting a meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
“It gets the audience to consider human behaviour differently,” Miller told CBC News.
“Shock, delight, cacophony! A meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights is staged with the help of specially recruited dachshunds in this wild performance installation. Joyful and chaotic, spectacular and fascinating, Dachshund UN questions our capacity to imagine and achieve a universal system of justice,” Harbourfront Centre’s website states.
“It’s a simple concept. Some choral music with a martial tone and then the curtain rises on four tiers of dogs — apparently a replica of the UN office in Geneva — and then the audience watches the dogs, talks loudly and snaps photos throughout, and the dogs stare back, mostly in bafflement,” Toronto Star entertainment reporter Bruce DeMara writes.
How cute :)