Archive for the ‘UN’ Category

UN cholera which killed 9,000 could have been prevented for $2,000

April 14, 2016

The UN peace keeping force which moved to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake introduced cholera which killed 9,000 people. Haiti had not, for at least 100 years, and possibly never before, had a cholera outbreak. A new Yale study shows that it could have been prevented if the UN had spent just $2,000 for advance health checks and preventive antibiotics for their troops from Nepal who carried the disease. The cost of the UN incompetence in addition to the 9,000 lives lost is now estimated to be over $2 billion.

Of course, Ban Ki-moon spent months spinning the story and denying responsibility. (Just as he is still denying UN responsibility for the sexual predations of UN troops in Africa). Naturally anybody on UN duty is immune from any prosecution – even for blatant incompetence or gross negligence.

It can only be considered incompetence on the part of the UN when the study states “Prior to the outbreak, there were no biomedical interventions in place to prevent its occurrence despite the recognized risk for spread of infectious diseases from military to civilian populations”.

JA Lewnard et al, Strategies to Prevent Cholera Introduction during International Personnel Deployments: A Computational Modeling Analysis Based on the 2010 Haiti Outbreak, January 26, 2016, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001947

One of the most severe cholera epidemics of the modern era began in Haiti in 2010, causing over 700,000 reported cases and nearly 9,000 deaths to date. Prior to the outbreak, cholera had been absent from Haiti for over a century. Several pieces of evidence have contributed to widespread acceptance that the epidemic resulted from contamination of the Artibonite watershed with infected sewage from a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) base. The causative Vibrio cholerae strain was imported from Nepal and diverged from strains circulating in that country around the time 454 Nepalese troops were deployed to Haiti, and the first cholera cases in Haiti were seen downstream from the base days after troops arrived.

…. The cholera outbreak in Haiti arose from a confluence of preventable circumstances. Systemic inadequacies in sanitation infrastructure made Haiti vulnerable to water-borne disease, like other disaster-affected settings where peacekeeping operations are undertaken. Mass personnel movements from a cholera-endemic country and deficient waste management practices at a MINUSTAH base led to the introduction of V. cholerae to a susceptible population. Prior to the outbreak, there were no biomedical interventions in place to prevent its occurrence despite the recognized risk for spread of infectious diseases from military to civilian populations. While the UN has been reluctant to implement interventions in the wake of the epidemic in part due to uncertainties surrounding their effectiveness, our findings suggest antimicrobial chemoprophylaxis reduces the risk of disease introduction by over 90%. The low costs and minimal logistical burden of chemoprophylaxis relative to the other interventions suggest this approach warrants consideration as a strategy to limit risk for cholera introduction in future peacekeeping operations.

The Guardian writes:

The devastating Haiti cholera epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives and will cost more than $2bn to eradicate could have been prevented if the United Nations had used a basic health kit for a total of less than $2,000, scientists have found.

A team of Yale epidemiologists and lawyers has looked at how the cholera bacterium was introduced to Haiti by United Nations peacekeepers relocated there in the aftermath of its 2010 earthquake. Yale’s startling finding is that simple screening tests costing $2.54 each, combined with preventive antibiotics at less than $1 per peacekeeper, could have avoided one of the worst outbreaks of the deadly disease in modern history.

The Yale experts warn that the catastrophe in Haiti could be repeated as the UN appears to have failed to learn the lessons of its lack of preventive screening of peacekeepers. Some 150,000 UN peacekeepers are deployed from cholera-endemic countries each year but there is still no routine procedure to ensure they are free of the infection before being moved.

At least 9,000 Haitians, and possibly many more, have died in the continuing cholera epidemic that erupted in October 2010, it is thought as a result of untreated sewage from UN peacekeeping camps being dumped straight into a river. It was the first outbreak of the disease in Haiti in 150 years, and was almost certainly caused by the relocation of UN peacekeepers from Nepal, where cholera is present, to Haiti for emergency earthquake assistance.

Related:

UN’s own experts chastise Ban Ki-moon over handling of Haiti cholera outbreak


Advertisements

Sweden tries to buy votes for Security Council place

April 5, 2016

Five UN Security Council places (non-permanent) come up for election in June 2016. Sweden is competing against Italy and the Netherlands for the “Western European and Others” place.

The elections are for five non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council for two-year mandates commencing on 1 January 2017. The five members will serve on the Security Council for the 2017–18 period.

No doubt there is heavy lobbying going on. A UNSC place is seen as a strategic – and ideological – objective by the Social Democrat /Environment party government. The Social Democrats especially see the UN as a minor God and they have already canonised themselves as Saints. (Their sanctimonious self-image has been dented lately as they have been forced to take less than “friendly” actions in stopping the influx of “refugees”).

In any event, the Social Democrats were faced with the problem of how to fund their lobbying activities while not seeming to bribe “poor” countries for their votes and tarnishing their own self-righteous, self-image of propriety. So they chose a round-about method of inviting 27 UN ambassadors of “poor countries” to an all expenses-paid jaunt in Sweden under the guise of an “environment seminar”. They funded the whole business through a number of intermediary institutions to hide the fact that the money was coming from the Foreign Aid budget and that the whole “bribery tourism” was organised by the Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Ministry arranged the “gift packages ” for the UN ambassadors (note that those invited were not environment ministers but UN ambassadors). It is not often that UN ambassadors get their business class air tickets and five-star hotel bills paid for by a foreign country. What exactly was contained within the “gift packages” is not known. The environment seminar, just for these 27 country ambassadors, was an attempt by Sweden to cash in on its “environment credentials” just before the Paris conference. A similar jamboree was also arranged in March 2015.

By FIFA standards, the Swedish bribes were just small potatoes and normally I would expect Italy and the Netherlands to have provided more. But a  UNSC place is probably of more prestige value to the Social Democrats in Sweden. There is nothing wrong, I think, in lobbying. It is trying to hide it which is despicable. The sanctimonious, self-righteous facade which covers Swedish foreign policy is always despicable but it has reached new heights (or should it be depths) with this government. If it was all for the interests of the country it wouldn’t matter much, but for the Social Democrats, ideology often overrides country interests (Palestine, Saudi Arabia, the PKK ….).

(I observe that the left parties in Europe and including the Social Democrats in Sweden, in their ideological zeal to support the Palestinians often come close to being anti-semitic. And they get into a tangle when supporting a Kurdistan).

Kronprinsessan och Prins Daniel tillsammans med ambassadörerna.

Crown Princess and Prince Daniel with the Ambassadors. Photo kungahuset.se

Swedish Television:

Ambassadors from 27 island nations and poor countries were treated to a free trip to Sweden in August. The official reason for the visit was a climate seminar. The bills running into millions were sent to the  Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, who in turn received 14 million kronor of Sida’s aid money.

The common factor for the visitors was that they each have one vote in the UN General Assembly, which in June will appoint new members to the Security Council.

To get a seat in the UN Security Council has been one of the current government’s major foreign policy goals. …..

After the disclosure the government … writes that aid money was also used at another opportunity to invite UN Ambassadors on a trip to Sweden. On March 10,  27 representatives of several small island states met the Aid Minister Isabella Lövin (MP) and Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (S), during a visit to Sweden at the invitation of the Dag Hammarksköld Foundation. ….

…… Niclas Kvarnström Manager of the Security Council candidacy, said that the UN ambassadors’ visit was a collaboration between the Foundation and the Foreign Ministry. …..

During the visit, the ambassadors lunched with Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, had coffee with Aid Minister Isabella Lövin and had dinner with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. 

But the program was not mentioned publicly …. and they made no press releases.

The UN ambassadors also met Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel who received them at the  royal palace.

The Social Democrats together with the Environmental party makes for a dangerous mix. They are particularly good at “Do as I say and ignore what I do”


 

India says that OECD claim of $57 billion in 2013/14 for “climate finance” was grossly exaggerated and actually only $2.2 billion

November 30, 2015

The propaganda tsunami for the Paris climate conference is reaching a peak just in time for the 147 leaders who fly in for today’s opening. Many organisations and lobby groups and newspapers have brought out special issues and reports to sell their viewpoint. No matter how little Paris agrees on, it will be presented as a major breakthrough (too many have now invested too much to allow any other spin).

The OECD is one such organisation and they have just issued a report “Climate Finance in 2013-14 and the USD 100 billion goal” to try and show the position of the developed nations that a great deal of “climate finance” is already flowing.

OECD Climate-Finance in 2013-14

The OECD claims that developed countries and their private sectors had provided $62 billion in climate finance flows in 2014 — up from $52 billion in 2013 — and an average of $57 billion annually over 2013-14.

But this is all spin and hot air. All kinds of money flows are, by tortuous reasoning, allocated to “climate finance”. The Indian government’s Department of Economic Affairs is not amused.  They have performed a due diligence on the OECD’s claims of $57 billion disbursement in 2013/14. They find double-counting, mislabelling and misreporting and find that  “the only hard number currently available in this regard is $2.2 billion in gross climate fund disbursements from 17 special climate change finance multilateral, bilateral and multilateral development bank funds created for the specific purpose”The DEA report goes on to say “the Paris Conference and negotiators will unfortunately need to worry about the credibility of the new OECD report”.

Of course the OECD wants to show numbers bigger than they are and developing countries such as India want to show them as small as possible. The very concept that man-made emissions are going to control climate is arrogant, decadent and deeply flawed.  But climate conferences are about money flows not about climate.

The Hindu

The estimate of $57billion in assistance during 2013-14 is flawed; the only number available is $2.2bn, says Finance Ministry paper.

On a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for Paris to participate in the global climate change conference beginning Monday, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said that India has questioned the correctness of the recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report which claimed that significant progress had been made on a roadmap towards the goal of $100 billion in climate change finance flows annually by 2020.

In the foreword of a discussion paper titled, ‘Climate Change Finance, Analysis of a Recent OECD Report: Some Credible Facts Needed’, the Secretary said: “We asked our Climate Change Finance Unit of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance, and its experts to undertake a careful review of that OECD report. Their conclusion: the OECD report appears to have over-stated progress.” ….. 

The DEA paper said the OECD report had mentioned that developed countries and their private sector had provided $62 billion in climate finance flows in 2014 — up from $52 billion in 2013 — and an average of $57 billion annually over 2013-14.

The DEA paper quoted the French Foreign Minister as saying, “estimates demonstrate that considerable progress has been made. We must mobilize our efforts to provide the remaining $40 billion.” The paper then countered these claims saying, “We are very far from the goal of $100 billion in climate change finance flows annually by 2020.”

Describing the OECD as ‘a club of the rich countries’, the DEA paper said the Paris Conference and negotiators will unfortunately need to worry about the credibility of the new OECD report. …… 

Terming the figure of $57 billion average for 2013-14 as one that was exaggeratedly reported by the OECD, the DEA paper said the only hard number currently available in this regard is $2.2 billion in gross climate fund disbursements from 17 special climate change finance multilateral, bilateral and multilateral development bank funds created for the specific purpose. ……

The OECD report is deeply flawed and unacceptable, the DEA paper said, adding that the OECD report repeats a previous experience of double-counting, mislabelling and misreporting when rich countries provided exaggerated claims of ‘fast-start climate financing’ in during 2010-12 which were widely criticized by independent observers.

Reporting of the Paris conference will see a lot of spin. But there are only 2 real questions

  1. Are any emissions targets legally binding? and
  2. Are any money flows legally binding?

And I expect nothing of substance will be legally binding – thank goodness.

UN Resolution 2249 (2015) has implicitly invoked Chapter 7 and sanctions military action against ISIL in Iraq and Syria

November 21, 2015

UN SC Res 2249

UN Resolution 2249 which was passed yesterday at the initiative of France actually does invoke Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and goes very much further than some are arguing. The resolution does not just sanction action against ISIL (ISIS) but calls on member states which can act, to do so:

”  Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, …….  on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts….”

Any member nation is therefore fully authorised  – in international law – by this resolution to attack ISIL (ISIS) (or any other of the named terrorist groups) in Syria or in Iraq. 

I have heard arguments from the left in the UK that this is not the explicit UN sanction for military action under Chapter 7 that they are looking for before agreeing to any attacks on ISIS in Syria, but this is just wishful and incorrect thinking. The UN itself explains in its Research Report No. 1 that the Security Council can exercise its Chapter 7 powers without explicitly invoking Chapter 7 in the text of a Security Council resolution.

UN Research Report No 1 Chapter VII 23 June 08

There can be no doubt that Chapter 7 is being implicitly invoked.

UN Charter

The beginning of Chapter 7 (Article 39) is specifically addressed to “any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” and yesterday’s resolution “determines …….  the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security”.

The United States Deputy Ambassador to the UN provides this explanation to the US President of yesterday’s resolution:

Mr. President, in recent weeks barbaric terrorist attacks have startled the world’s conscience. From Europe to Africa to the Middle East, innocent men and women have been slaughtered. Families destroyed in Beirut. Concertgoers slain in Paris. Air passengers bombed in the sky. Tourists killed on the beach in Tunisia. ……

For this reason, we welcome and applaud this resolution’s resolute call on states to take all necessary measures in compliance with international law to counter ISIL and the al-Nusrah Front. We must also choke off funding, arms, recruitment, and other kinds of support to ISIL and the al-Nusrah Front.

As the resolution recognizes, Iraq has made it clear that it is facing a serious threat of continuing attacks from ISIL, in particular coming out of safe havens in Syria; and the Assad regime in Syria has shown that it cannot and will not suppress this threat, even as it undertakes actions that benefit the extremists’ recruiting. In this regard, working with Iraq, the United States has been leading international efforts to provide assistance to combat the threat that ISIL poses to the security of its people and territory, and we are taking, in accordance with the UN Charter and its recognition of the inherent right of individual and collective self-defense, necessary and proportionate military action to deny ISIL safe haven. …….

Any government of a member state in general, and the UK government in particular, needs no further UN sanction if they wish to act against ISIS in Iraq or in Syria. In fact with this resolution in place it is quite unlikely that the UN Security Council will produce another resolution to cover ground already covered.

David Cameron now has all the UN sanction that he could ever desire to extend military strikes on ISIS in Syria. He can even, with justification, go to his parliament at any time and explain that all member states with the capacity to attack ISIL (ISIS) in Syria have a duty to do so under Resolution 2249 (2015). St Jeremy really has no leg to stand on – Chapter 7 has already been invoked.

India and China have already won and the Paris climate conference has become irrelevant

October 20, 2015
Paris conference

Paris conference

India and China have successfully managed to get the UN to focus on the intensity of emissions per unit of GDP and thus can make promises (not legally binding) about future emissions tied to GDP such that they will not be limited in their use of coal in any significant way.

The hype about the UN’s December climate meeting in Paris is gradually growing. Media, politically correct politicians and the global warming religion’s orthodoxy are winding up their rhetoric. Ostensibly the goal is to demonise carbon and to get nations to commit to reducing fossil fuel use such that the global temperature rise “will not exceed 2ºC”. This target of “allowable” temperature rise is not “2ºC caused by man” but just “2ºC”. Nobody actually knows what the rise by “natural causes” might be and what is caused by man. “Global temperature” itself is an artefact, a calculated quantity and calculated by those with a vested interest in showing that it is increasing. It seems that the calculation method is conveniently variable and is adjusted every year to show that the current year has demonstrated the highest ever temperature. Nevertheless the 5,000 participants and 190+ countries have effectively set themselves up to discuss commitments to stop climate change itself. The arrogance is astounding and worthy of King Cnut.

What effect man has actually had on climate is unknown. For almost 20 years now, man-made carbon dioxide emissions have been growing explosively but “global temperature” has paused. Those countries which have increased their own costs of electricity by reducing fossil fuel use (mainly in Europe) have effectively done it all quite uselessly and unnecessarily. Other countries (China and India in the main) have increased their use of fossil fuels such that global emissions of carbon dioxide have continued to grow. And yet there has been no change in “global temperature” except by arithmetical tricks. The last 3 decades of reducing fossil fuel use in Europe have been unnecessary. Three decades of subsidising renewable energy have still not made them commercial in their own right.

Climate policies are all policies where the objectives are not measurable. Policies are being proposed where the effect of the policies on climate itself cannot be measured. All that can be measured are the actions themselves which is both trivial and meaningless. For example countries can measure amounts of money spent but have no clue as to what the resultant effect on climate may be. Emissions reductions can be measured, but not the actual climate effects such reductions may have caused or not caused. For many delegates the purpose is not climate but the redistribution of wealth among nations where climate policy is the vehicle.

Ask a politician what his countries climate policies will achieve and the answer is that it will “contribute to the world’s efforts to stop climate change”. But by how much and how success can be measured are unknowns. It has become a matter of solidarity among nations not of policies with objectives. Not a single country (nor any politician nor any so-called climate scientist) has any inkling about what its climate policies will achieve for climate or even if it will achieve anything at all.

Some of the more savvy politicians and countries have figured out ways to seem to support political correctness while ensuring that their continued – and increasing – use of fossil fuels is not constrained in practice. For India and China the continued use of fossil fuels is critical and necessary for their growth. For the next 20  – 30 years, their carbon dioxide emissions are going to increase regardless of what the Paris meeting decides. India has proposed policies which seem – at first sight – to be drastic reductions in the “intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP” but defined in terms of growth such that coal consumption will have trebled in the next 25 years from 2005. India has now said it will cut emissions intensity by up to 25% of 2005 levels by 2020. China has also said it will reduce the intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP in 2020 by 40 to 45 percent compared with the level of 2005.

India’s GDP has grown from $0.8 trillion in 2005 to be about $2.1 trillion in 2014. China’s GDP has already grown from $2.3 trillion in 2005 to $10.3 trillion in 2014. These “promises” based on GDP are not even going to be legally binding  and there is certainly no cap to the GDP which can be aimed for or achieved. The GDP targets for India and China inherently require a mix of fuels to be used for electricity generation; coal, gas, nuclear and hydro primarily. Solar and wind power may have a large installed capacity and may contribute something to the growth but are not necessary or critical. The Indian and Chinese plans for using more gas and nuclear in their mix automatically brings down the carbon intensity per GDP from the levels of 2005 when both countries were heavily dependent on coal. Their coal plans can therefore proceed unimpeded while still meeting their “promises”. Both countries are relying on GDP growth to effectively reduce their “intensities of carbon emission” without having to reduce the rate at which they increase planned fossil fuel use or carbon dioxide emissions. Both India and China have reached the stage of development where electricity consumption growth is now lower than GDP growth. Both are at low levels of energy utilisation efficiency such that significant demand side improvements can be made. With around 7% growth in India and even with China reducing to, say, 6% growth, the reductions of intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP are impossible to prevent.

Any agreement in Paris will mean India trebling and China doubling its coal burn by 2030. And with “official” sanction to do so. So what “success” in Paris means is that global, man-made, carbon dioxide emissions are going to double (at least). And it also means that any carbon dioxide emission reductions promised by other countries are of no significance whatsoever. It is a very good thing that man-made, carbon dioxide emissions have no significant impact on global temperature.

And the Paris conference is both meaningless and irrelevant.

A Guantanamo in Chicago?

August 5, 2015

I have a perception – from the other side of the Atlantic – that race relations and especially the relations between the police and the black community in the US have deteriorated under Barack Obama. The number of  black people reported killed by police seems much too high. Deaths of black people in police custody seems also unnaturally high. Again my perception is that Obama is dangerously risk averse both domestically and in foreign policy. He has not addressed this issue forcefully. I suspect a certain lack of capability and an undue fear of action.

Chicago is as close to Obama’s “home city” as any. Moreover the current mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel is a close friend of Obama’s and was his former Chief of Staff (2008 – 2010). So one would expect that Chicago would lead the way in race relations under the first “black” president of the US. But it seems that Chicago has been running its own Guantanamo-style facility (Homan Square) in plain view. It also seems that during Rahm Emanuel’s term the use of the facility against black suspects has been maximised.

Chicago Homan Square arrests via The Guardian

Chicago Homan Square arrests via The Guardian

Of course The Guardian leans very heavily to the left and has a tendency to be rather sanctimonious, but their report – even after being discounted for their “goody-goody” bias – is rather disturbing. It does not speak well of what Obama and his friend have achieved in their “home city”.

It seems a real shame that under the first “black” president of the US, race relations, especially between the police and the black community, have apparently deteriorated quite badly.

The Guardian:

At least 3,500 Americans have been detained inside a Chicago police warehouse described by some of its arrestees as a secretive interrogation facility, newly uncovered records reveal.

Of the thousands held in the facility known as Homan Square over a decade, 82% were black. Only three received documented visits from an attorney, according to a cache of documents obtained when the Guardian sued the police.

Despite repeated denials from the Chicago police department that the warehouse is a secretive, off-the-books anomaly, the Homan Square files begin to show how the city’s most vulnerable people get lost in its criminal justice system.

The Chicago police department has maintained – even as the Guardian reported stories of people being shackled and held for hours or even days, all without legal access – that the warehouse is not a secret facility so much as an undercover police base operating in plain sight. “There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is no different at Homan Square,” the police asserted in a March statement.

But an independent Guardian analysis of arrestees’ records, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, shows that Homan Square is far from normal: 

  • Between September 2004 and June 2015, around 3,540 people were eventually charged, mostly with forms of drug possession – primarily heroin, as well as marijuana and cocaine – but also for minor infractions such as traffic violations, public urination and driving without a seatbelt.
  • More than 82% of the Homan Square arrests thus far disclosed – or 2,974 arrests – are of black people, while 8.5% are of white people. Chicago, according to the 2010 US census, is 33% black and 32% white.
  • Over two-thirds of the arrests at Homan Square thus far revealed – at least 2,522 – occurred under the tenure of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the former top aide to Barack Obama who has said of Homan Square that the police working under him “follow all the rules”. ……….

Read the report

The Obama legacy will certainly show that he was the first half-black president of the US. More than that, history may only record that “he was one who could have, but didn’t”.

The CAR scandal: Cover-up of incompetence continues at the UN

July 22, 2015

Flavia Pansieri, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for human rights, resigned today after admitting in March that she had failed to follow up on the allegations of sexual exploitation of children in the Central African Republic by French troops and which had been revealed by the Swedish whistle- blower, a UN staff member, Anders Kompass. Initially the UN sought to cover-up by suspending Kompass and putting him under investigation. Even Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary general attacked Kompass for breaking UN rules rather than address the failings of the organisation. Kompass has now been reinstated but still remains under investigation for his administrative misdeeds. He had informed Pansieri about his misgivings but apparently she was too busy with budget cuts at the time and failed to take any action. Now she has resigned “for health reasons”, but the UN High Commissioner himself, Zeid Raad al-Hussein remains. According to Pansieri he also was informed and failed to take action.

Being UN officials, they all have immunity from any liability – even for incompetence and gross negligence. No further action will probably be taken, though Anders Kompass should probably give up any aspirations to promotion within the UN organisation. (I note again that no UN official will ever be held accountable for the negligence which led to cholera being introduced to Haiti by UN troops).

ABC (AP):

The U.N. confirmed Wednesday that Flavia Pansieri has left the post of deputy high commissioner for human rights “for health reasons.” No more details were given.

The allegations by several children as young as 9 of trading oral sex and sodomy for food with French soldiers tasked with protecting civilians in the violence-torn country didn’t become public until late April, almost a year after U.N. staffers first heard the children’s stories. Pansieri’s comments and other leaked documents led the U.N. secretary-general this summer to order an investigation into how the U.N. handled the case.

In a confidential statement for a separate internal investigation, obtained by The Associated Press, Pansieri said she had been distracted from the case by other issues, including budget cuts for several months. “I regret to say that in the context of those very hectic days, I failed to follow up on the CAR situation,” Pansieri said in the statement dated March 26.

She said she and her boss, high commissioner Zeid Raad al-Hussein, had assumed French authorities were handling the allegations, even as France pressed the U.N. for months for more information.

No arrests have been announced, and it appears that the only person who has been punished is the U.N. rights staffer who first notified French authorities.

The French soldiers, who were not U.N. peacekeepers, had been tasked with protecting civilians in a chaotic camp for displaced people in Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, during vicious violence between Christians and Muslims.

Of course the UN is only as good as its member nations. I sometimes think that the UN, just like the EU, is not a forum for the dissemination of best practices as it should be, but functions instead to level down to the worst standards of a member nation.

US, UK and Canada protect Israel’s nuclear weapons

May 23, 2015

An Egyptian proposal for a nuclear weapons free Middle East as part of the UN nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) was blocked by the US, UK and Canada. The blockage was not unexpected since Israel which is not a signatory to the NPT had already indicated its opposition and on such matters Washington generally obliges Israel. The NPT 2015 conference ended without agreement and the US representative blamed the Egyptians – of course – for making a proposal that had no chance of success. The status quo continues and Israel can maintain all its nuclear warheads. The NPT conference will next be held in 2020.

It is not so surprising that all the western countries which created Israel and now protect its not-so-secret stock of nuclear warheads are the same powers who don’t want any possibility of Iran developing its own nuclear weapons. I can quite accept that Israel will want to protect its own interests. The position of the US and its allies is entirely expected but is also just plain hypocritical. But the myth of Israel not having any nuclear warheads can be put to rest for ever. If they didn’t have any there would be no point in blocking the Egyptian proposal.

Jerusalem PostAfter four weeks of negotiations on ways to improve compliance with the pact, there was no consensus among its 191 signatories. US Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller announced there was “no agreement” and accused some countries of undermining the negotiations.  Gottemoeller did not name any countries but diplomats said she was referring to Egypt. ……. 

Last month, Egypt, backed by other Arab and non-aligned states, proposed that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convene a regional conference on banning weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as called for at the 2010 NPT review with or without Israel’s participation, without agreement on an agenda and with no discussion of regional security issues.

Those conditions are unacceptable to Israel and Washington.

Decisions at NPT review conferences, which are held every five years, are made by consensus. ……. 

Egypt’s proposals, Western diplomats say, were intended to focus attention on Israel. Washington and Israel say Iran’s nuclear program is the real regional threat. Iran says its program is peaceful. It is negotiating with world powers to curb it in exchange for lifting sanctions. Israel has said it would consider joining the NPT only once at peace with its Arab neighbors and Iran.

There were disagreements on other aspects of the NPT but delegates said the Middle East issue was the most divisive.

And in the meantime ISIS has announced that it is trying to get hold of one of the Pakistani warheads to be able to do something spectacular.

The Israeli nuclear stockpile of nuclear warheads probably lies between 100 and 400.

Estimates for Israel's nuclear weapons stockpile range from 70 to 400 warheads. The actual number is probably closer to the lower estimate. Additional weapons could probably be built from inventories of fissile materials.   http://fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/nuke/

Estimates for Israel’s nuclear weapons stockpile range from 70 to 400 warheads. The actual number is probably closer to the lower estimate. Additional weapons could probably be built from inventories of fissile materials.
http://fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/nuke/

Ban Ki-moon and the UN lose it as they try to hide sexual exploitation of children by UN troops

May 1, 2015

I find Ban Ki-moon embarrassing as the Secretary General of the UN. More often than not, I find his pronouncements generally lacking any indication of personal moral fibre. He parrots the prepared statements of his aides and advisors and his own values are invisible. Certainly the UN, and this Secretary General in particular, have little moral authority left. I find him an even sorrier figure than Kurt Waldheim – and Waldheim with his tacit support of Idi Amin’s applause for the Munich massacre – still leaves a bitter taste. In a sense, what else can we expect? The UN is not an organisation for the dissemination of best practices. Just like in the EU, it is the worst behaviour of a member state which becomes the common standard. The best of the UN, like that of the EU, can only be as good as that of its worst member state. When all UN personnel enjoy immunity from any liability for incompetence, gross negligence and even criminal acts, it is hardly surprising that the “bad apples” get away with it. Not everybody who serves on UN missions is a “bad apple” but there is no shortage of such people. Personnel on UN missions – be they scientists or doctors or peace-keeping troops or administrators – have no incentive from the UN to act responsibly. Nobody will be held accountable for introducing cholera to Haiti just as Dutch troops will not have to face any liability for the massacres in Srebrenica (and a Dutch court refused to act against the Dutch general just a few days ago).

And in the case of the sexual exploitation of children by French soldiers (and soldiers from Chad) in the Central African Republic, there will be many fine speeches from the UN and from the French government, but nobody will be held responsible or brought to account. But in this case where the abuse was known in July 2014 and covered up by the UN, the UN is throwing the book at the whistle-blower. Anders Kompass leaked the internal report on sexual abuses by French troops to French prosecutors. But Ban Ki-moon is talking about the procedural crimes of the Swedish whistle-blower rather than why the UN has kept this hidden for so long. Even the French PM has made a fine speech about pursuing wrong-doers but he has done nothing about this case which the French first knew about 9 months ago.

Expressen:

The Swedish Foreign Ministry’s legal chief Anders Rönquist and Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog have both defended the whistle-blower Anders Kompass. 
But now the UN Secretary General has come out criticizing the Swede who leaked the report on sexual abuse. “Our preliminary assessment is that the behavior is not the same as whistle-blowing”, says Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson.
Anders Kompass is still employed at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on the OHCHR, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. But he will be absent from his job till 31st July.

Presumably he has been suspended by the UN. His suspension is with the knowledge – if not at the instigation – of the UN  high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.

The Guardian:

The United Nations is guilty of “reckless disregard for serious allegations of wrongdoing” in its treatment of a whistleblower who disclosed details of alleged child abuse by French peacekeepers in Africa, according to a former staff member.

James Wasserstrom, a veteran US diplomat who was sacked and arrested by UN police when he exposed suspicions of corruption by senior officials in Kosovo, said the case of Anders Kompass revealed how the organisation turned on the whistleblower rather than dealing with the wrongdoing he had revealed.

Kompass, director of field operations at the office of the high commissioner for human rights in Geneva, has been suspended for passing to prosecutors in Paris an unredacted internal UN report detailing allegations of the sexual exploitation of boys in the Central African Republic by French peacekeepers.

When the Guardian revealed details of the allegations this week, the French authorities admitted publicly for the first time that they had begun an investigation after receiving the report last July. It details accounts from children as young as eight and nine of serious sexual abuse at a centre for internally displaced people in the capital Bangui.

At the time, the French troops stationed there were part of their country’s peacekeeping mission run independently of the new UN operation Minusca. The UN had commissioned the report following claims on the grounds of sexual misconduct. It was completed in June last year but not passed on until Kompass leaked it directly to the French.

On Thursday, the French president, François Hollande, vowed to pursue the allegations vigorously. “If some soldiers have behaved badly, I will show no mercy,” he said. French judicial authorities said more than a dozen soldiers were under investigation. ………. In France, the claims against more than a dozen soldiers who were part of the peacekeeping mission in CAR continue to cause shockwaves.

The report contains interviews with six children who disclose sexual abuse predominantly at the hands of French peacekeepers. Some children indicated that several of their friends were also being sexually exploited.

The interviews were carried out by an official from the OHCHR justice section and a member of Unicef between May and June last year. The children, who are aged between eight/nine and 15, disclosed abuse dating back to December 2013.

But of course nobody will be held accountable.

And the behaviour of the UN and Ban Ki-moon is – once again – not very edifying.

Plastic in the oceans grossly exaggerated: How the UN spreads bad science

April 30, 2015

It is widely assumed that about 10% of annual plastic production ends up in the oceans. That would mean that about 30 million tonnes end up in our seas every year. But this is just a myth and has been spread by a UN mistake as reported by Nordic Science. The actual number is 2 – 4%. The UN knows it is a mistake but it serves their “political” goals to go slow with any correction. I would go so far as to say that the UN mistake (by a consultant – of course) was quite deliberate. Which advocacy group did that consultant come from – I wonder?

It is tempting to beat our largest drums when fighting pollution. … One of science’s cardinal virtues is accuracy. Despite that, scientists are contributing to the dissemination of numbers with rather nebulous sources.

When ScienceNordic’s Norwegian partner forskning.no recently wrote about new calculations quantifying the plastic debris in the sea, we wondered why the new figures were so much lower than previous findings.

A number of researchers stated that the new calculation methods were the best they had seen to date. So we tried to find out how other scientists had ended up with a much higher figure –ten percent of the world’s plastic output. This was no easy task. The one-tenth figure cropped up ubiquitously, but no one could say what research it was based on. Apparently it didn’t come from research at all.

Some still claim that ten percent of the plastic produced annually ends up in marine environments. In 2013 alone that would equate to 30 million tonnes. This is a staggering amount of plastic for the oceans of the world and the marine life in these seas to cope with.

The latest calculations decrease this share of plastic debris to two to four percent of annual output.

We started searching for the source of the ten-percent figure.

Each reference pointed to another, which in turn referred to another article or paper in an apparent endless chain. Where was the original source?

A UN document for a workshop of international experts on marine debris also referred to a scientific paper. But when we checked that paper there we found no trace of this ten percent estimate.

We contacted the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which had commissioned the document from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). They would not put us in touch with the author of the document, but Jihyun Lee in the Secretariat sent us an e-mail:

“Our consultant quoted the reference in good faith as it was cited in a peer-reviewed paper as being the source of the information. A robust review of this paper by the consultant when he quoted this information could have avoided this mistake. Unfortunately he did not go back to the source reference in this case to double-check the original source.”

The UN document was a draft. The mistake had already been pointed out by a scientist at the workshop and checked out. Jihyun Lee explains that the number will now be deleted from the final report.

But the number had already spread internationally, including to Norway, where the expert on plastics Geir Wing Gabrielsen of the Norwegian Polar Institute quoted it in the media.

“When I read a scientific article or a UN report, I expect the references made to be correct and they should be possible to confirm. It is unfortunate when, as in this case, numbers are impossible to track down,” he writes in an e-mail.

Read the whole article

Forskning.no finally traced the 10% number through many a false citation to a non-peer-reviewed conference presentation by a Professor Richard Thompson of Plymouth University who now admits he had no basis for the number but says it was based on “grey” literature. Which advocacy group did his “respected source” come from?

“ It was from a respected source, it seemed credible and I believed it as did others,” he writes in an e-mail to forskning.no. But he doesn’t answer the question of why he neglected to investigate the reference which the number comes from.

Thompson writes that he relied on grey literature, in other words, information from the authorities, organisations or academics who have not been peer reviewed through formal scientific publications. Typically, this could be a report, a work note or a presentation. 

“On further digging there is no substance to them – they were guesses and I should not have used them. I have not used the quote again,” he writes.

No doubt the consultant and the grey literature were from some advocacy group, such as Greenpeace, who have no qualms about making up information when it suits their purpose. Lies are justified as necessary because their “ends are good”. I note that the UN bureaucracy believe that the end justifies the means and their means include disseminating “grey information” as if it was gospel. It is not so surprising then that the UN IPCC reports on climate are full of highly dubious grey literature.

The UN’s scientific panels are little better than advocacy groups. Accuracy and truth have just become collateral damage in the furthering of their political goals. And the IPCC leads all the rest.


%d bloggers like this: