Thursday, February 15, 2007

Guinea: Arising after two decades of civic slumber

From ICG's new report: "Guinea has been dominated for nearly 23 years by the unique figure of General Conté, corrupt and desperate to hold onto his privileges. The opposition to the Conté regime, begun during the general strike at the beginning of the year, has taken a bloody turn and has mutated into an unprecedented popular uprising.

Guinea now faces two possible scenarios. There is still a chance, though a diminishing one, for a negotiated solution involving key Guinean, regional and wider international actors. Alternatively, if the Conté regime continues to rely on military repression, it could rapidly bring Guinea to a dramatic spiral of violence: full popular insurgency, with increasing chaos that is likely to stimulate a military take-over in a blood-bath, leading in turn to a possible civil war comparable to those that have torn apart its neighbours in the past decade and with uncontrollable consequences.

Western governments as well as multinational firms that benefit from the country’s natural resources value political quiet but they would be making a serious mistake if this led them to support, even by passivity, an effort to retain the Conté system (with or without its creator)."

Read more from the new Crisis Group Report on recent events, called "Guinea: Change or Chaos"

BBC is doing some good reporting as well here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Paris: New proscriptions against use of child soldiers

From the Unicef website:

"Fifty-eight countries represented at a high-level conference in Paris today committed themselves to stopping the unlawful recruitment and use of children in
armed conflicts.

[Former child soldier Ishmael Beah holds up the Paris Commitments at the end of the historic ‘Free Children from War’ conference in Paris.]

The Paris Commitments, as they are now known, lay out detailed guidelines for protecting children from recruitment and for providing assistance to those already involved with armed groups or forces. They will complement the political and legal mechanisms already in place at the UN Security Council, the International Criminal Court and other bodies trying to protect children from exploitation and violence.

The conference, which was jointly organized by the French Government and UNICEF, attracted dozens of government ministers, donors, the heads of several UN agencies – including UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman – and many non-governmental organizations."

Read more about the Paris conference here.

And read the recent NYT article on Ishmael Beah and his forthcoming memoir called “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier,” babout life as a child soldier here.

Monday, February 05, 2007

UN Reform: "Death by 1,000 meetings"

So stands the threat of fillibuster by poor nation member states, who oppose the UN reform agenda that new Secretary General Ban Ki-moon inherited from Kofi Annan.

"Developing nations withheld approval on Monday of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's reorganization plans, supported by the United States and Europeans, who warned of death by 1,000 meetings.

The secretary-general, in an effort to balance posts between major contributors and poor nations, urged 192 member states in the General Assembly to back his proposals to split the peacekeeping department in two and downgrade disarmament affairs but attach it to his own office."
The new SG is finding out that "when you want to change anything at the United Nations, the first question is, who moved my cheese?" (Israeli ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman)
Read more from the Reuters text here.

My Life in the Bush of ... 3 Quarks Daily

If I'm not here clicking and typing away for this blog, I'm probably at 3 Quarks Daily where I write longer pieces as a guest columnist every fourth Monday.

3 Quarks is a happy place, and comes highly recommended from notable big brains Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, even David Byrne.

Editor and friend S. Abbas Raza describes the aim and structure of the site:
On this website, my guest authors and editors and I hope to present interesting items from around the web on a daily basis, in the areas of science, design, literature, current affairs, art, and anything else we deem inherently fascinating. We want to provide you with a one-stop intellectual surfing experience by culling good stuff from all over and putting it in one place. In other words, we are what has come to be known as a "filter blog." And we try not to be afraid of challenging material. Though we are a filter blog on all other days, on Mondays we have only original writing by our editors and guest columnists.

Hope you will drop by for a visit...