In the News

From Nigeria to the World Bank--and now back - July 12

July 12, 2011 

It's a mildly hopeful sign that World Bank managing director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is giving up her post to serve as Nigerian finance minister in the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. She joins a government that many see as the best opportunity in years to turn around that country's fortunes. Reuters had this description:
Passionate about promoting Africa as an investment destination and widely-respected for her practical approach to development, Okonjo-Iweala stands out in a cabinet largely made up of familiar faces and anonymous technocrats. She was praised the last time she served as finance minister, from 2003 to 2006, for fighting corruption, boosting transparency, and negotiating the cancellation of nearly two-thirds of Nigeria's $30 billion Paris Club debt. ...

Click here to read the full blog post at Foreign Policy's The Multilateralist.  

Elections done right: The FAO - July 10

July 10, 2011 

June was a busy month for multilateral elections. Within seven days of each other, the following individuals were elected as the head of a major multilateral organization:

  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was re-elected to a second five-year term (June 21),
  • French finance minister Christine Lagarde was chosen as the new Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (June 28),
  • Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser was selected as President of the UN General Assembly’s 67th session (June 22), and
  • Jose Graziano da Silva was elected as the new Director-General of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (June 26).

This last one, however, could not have been more different from the others. ...

Baird to announce boycott of UN conference over North Korea appointment - July 10

July 10, 2011

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is set to announce Monday that Canada is boycotting the United Nations Conference on Disarmament over North Korea’s involvement, a senior government source told Postmedia News.

So Se Pyong, North Korea’s ambassador, was last week named chair of the Geneva-based group dedicated to promoting global nuclear disarmament.“

North Korea is simply not a credible chair of this UN body as its leaders are working in the exact opposite direction,” the source told Postmedia News on Sunday evening. ...

Click here to read the full article at the National Post. 

Armenians Must Counter UN Security Council Bids by Turkey and Azerbaijan - July 8

July 8, 2011
Diasporan political organizations and influential Armenians, in cooperation with the Armenian Foreign Ministry, should launch an international lobbying campaign to block Turkey and Azerbaijan from gaining coveted seats on the United Nations Security Council.
Three years ago, I made a similar plea when Turkey was seeking a seat on the Security Council for the first time since 1961. I urged Armenians worldwide to contact government leaders of their respective countries, requesting that their UN representatives oppose Turkey’s Security Council bid.

Why Did Iran Say "NO" to the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights? - July 5

July 5, 2011

Less than a week after the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed former Maldivian Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed as Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for Iran, Head of Iran's Judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, in a TV interview said, "accepting the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights is not our policy."

In March, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution establishing a monitoring mechanism for Iran and appointing a Special Rapporteur. Last month, three candidates were considered for this position. The Iranian side, knowing that a Special Rapporteur would be immediately appointed soon, sent a message to Geneva that the Rapporteur on Iran should have three qualifications: Be a man, be a Muslim, and not be from an Arab country. One of the male candidates didn't seem to cause any controversy for Tehran; Ahmed Shaheed's appointment met all of Iran's requirements. ...

Open letter to the new Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran - July 2

July 2, 2011 

Dear Dr. Shaheed,

We the undersigned, members of Iranian academics, journalists, writers, lawyers, artists and human rights activists, welcome your appointment as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran. The systematic violations of human rights by the Islamic Republic of Iran and atrocities committed against the members of the opposition have reached an unprecedented level. The arbitrary arrests of women activists, lawyers, journalists, students, labour leaders, and human rights advocates are on the rise. The continuous hunger strikes, attempted suicides and mysterious death of prisoners in custody, and executions are indeed alarming. ...

Canada's love-hate take on North Korea reveals UN circus - July 1

July 1, 2011

What's a North Korean apparatchik to think when he's both welcomed and told to quit by Canada after assuming the presidency of a key United Nation s disarmament body?

The naming of North Korea's Ambassador So Se Pyong as chair of the UN's Conference on Disarmament drew sharp criticism from Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Thursday. ...

Click here to read the full article at the Montreal Gazette.

Brazil's Graziano elected chief of UN food agency - July 1

July 1, 2011
Jose Graziano da Silva of Brazil was elected on Sunday as director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the U.N. agency tasked with reducing world hunger at a time of near-record high food prices.
Graziano, currently FAO's regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, won on the second ballot with the support of 92 of the 180 FAO member states voting. ...

Byun named new chair of U.N. oceanographic commission - June 30

June 30, 2011
A South Korean scientist has been named the new chief of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), Seoul’s Maritime ministry said Thursday.
Byun Sang-kyung, 61, was elected to head the Paris-based organization on Thursday (Paris time), becoming the first South Korean to take the top post of the U.N. commission that coordinates exchange of information and data between the member states and their national oceanographic data centers, according to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.

Three Challenges for New IMF Director - June 29

June 29, 2011

Christine Lagarde's appointment to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the International Monetary Fund comes as no real surprise. But the aggressive manner in which European authorities pushed through Lagarde's appointment to retain control over the position creates at least three major challenges Lagarde must quickly address.

One, Lagarde has to establish her independence. She has to demonstrate that the IMF will not automatically rubberstamp European decisions and be a convenient piggy bank to help Europe finance the debt crisis in some euro-area countries. The pressure European officials applied to secure the managing director's position for Lagarde and the important role she played as the French finance minister in dealing with the crisis raises suspicions that the Europeans' primary interest in backing her is to ensure access to IMF resources.  ...

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