31 December, 2008

5 Issues for the UN

The UN Listed the top five issues facing them this year.

1) Eastern Congo:

Some 4 million people have died in the Congo as a result of civil war since (1995). The United Nations has overseen a peace process that has brought stability (and democratic governance) much of the Congo. Still, Congo's resource rich eastern region is persistently restive. Remnants of Rwanda's Hutu genocidares, Rwandan backed Tutsi militias, freelance insurgents, and undisciplined government troops are terrorizing the civilian population of Eastern Congo. In October, fighting intensified as a rebel militia lead by a former Congolese military general named Laurent Nkunda threatened to sack east Congo's regional capital city, Goma.

The United Nations peacekeeping force in the Congo is the largest in the world. Yet even at 17,000 it is unable to exert control over a territory the size of Western Europe. In November, the Security Council authorized a surge of 3,000 peacekeepers. This will help, but a durable solution will require the skillful diplomatic engagement of the region. This includes pressing neighboring countries and the Kabilla government to reign in their support of various militia elements. Peace also requires judicial initiatives, like ICC indictments, to bring to justice those most responsible terrible atrocities visited upon civilians.

2) Peace for Darfur/Sudan

3) Somalia

Somalia has been without a central government for 14 years. In December 2006,
Ethiopian troops supported by American airpower intervened overthrew the Union
of Islamic Courts, a political and militant group that exerted effective control
over most of Somalia. Since then, the weak transitional government has been
unable to maintain control and lay the foundations of governance.

Without international intervention it is doubtful that the Somali groups will find a political solution on their own. As is often the case, the Security Council has periodically considered approving a peacekeeping mission to Somalia. ... A key challenge for the Security Council will be to stay focused on Somalia beyond matters relating to combating in the Indian Ocean.

4) Sustaining UN Peacekeeping

5) Attaining at UN Climate Change Accord

Let's be honest and admit that UN Peacekeeping is needed. They stay (most times) when the rest of the world pulls out. If we listened to the UN troops on the ground more I think our world could avoid a lot of the conflicts that persist (remember Rwanda?). It's one thing to say that the US supports the UN - it's another thing entirely to give money and troops and supplies. The US should spend less on the US military and transfer that money (and support) to the UN.

I agree with these five key issues for 2009. Though I would take out 5 and put in equality for women. "Women perform two-thirds of the world's work, earn one-tenth of the world's income, are two-thirds of the world's illiterate, and own less than one-hundredth of the world's property." (Willams and Mwau The Oxfam Gender Training Manual 1994). There is research that proves that female literacy leads to lower fertility, lower child mortality and micro-enterprise development. I think most of the micro-finance recepients in my org's programs are women. And yet, we have women still be denied basic human rights, be treated as subhuman and denied justice, projection and the ability to use their voice.

There are many challenges that face our world at the moment. So many of them are interconnected and if one could be resolved it would ripple out to other conflicts (at least for the time being). The DRC and Sudan are prime examples. We don't live in isolation anymore. No country's actions only affect itself. We need a to strength international organizations and UN peacekeeping is a key group that must remain.