UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION CENTRE IN PANAMA
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized
La Estrella (5 September) published an extensive article about UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The South Korean diplomat is the eighth Secretary-General, having succeeded Kofi Anna in January 2007. Lately Ban Ki-moon is being more and more criticized. According to some observers the image of the United Nations is deteriorating because of the lack of visibility of the current Secretary-General. When Ban Ki-moon was elected, his defenders argued that the United Nations needed a “Secretary” more than it needed a “General”. The US government was looking for an “administrative head of the organization”, the exact opposite of the resigning Kofi Annan, who defended human rights, extended peace keeping missions and won the Nobel Peace prize at the end of his first term. According to a memo the United Nations and Ban Ki-moon were absent during the crisis in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. In another memo Ban Ki-moon is accused of lack of transparency and inability to keep his promise to reform the organization. However, there is a big chance that Ban Ki-moon will be reelected as “the superpowers rarely want a dynamic Secretary-General”.
UN reports violations in Congo
El Siglo (9 September) and La Estrella (9 September) report about the violation of women in Congo. The United Nations reported that over 500 women have been systematically raped by armed forces in the east of Congo since the end of July. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Atul Khare confirmed that each year about 15,000 women get violated in Congo, twice as many as reported earlier. The United Nations have already accepted part of the responsibility for not protecting the citizens.
UNHCR reports increasing violence in Somalia
La Prensa (8 September) reports about the crisis in Somalia. Yesterday the UNHCR in Geneva stated that the situation in Mogadishu is deteriorating as clashes of the last two weeks left 230 civilians dead, 400 wounded 23,000 displaced. In Mogadishu troops of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Islamist militia of Al Shabaab continue fighting. In total 68,000 civilians have fled the Somali capital this year, which brings the total number of refugees to 614,000 (the highest number after Afghanistan and Iraq).
UN ask Pakistan for mechanism to control corruption
La Prensa (8 September) states that the United Nations asked Pakistan to set up a reliable mechanism to guarantee that the millions of victims receive international support and help. The donations stopped last week because of fear of corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency.
So far the United Nations has received 321 million dollars of the 460 million dollars needed for Pakistan. On 19 September Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will chair a conference in New York to ask for more help for the victims of the flooding. Yesterday actress and UNHCR goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie arrived in Pakistan in order to meet with victims of the flooding and ask the international community for more help.
Former First Lady promotes women´s literacy
El Siglo (9 September) states that former First Lady and UNESCO honorary ambassador Laura Bush asked for more commitment in order to eliminate illiteracy among women. During the International Literacy Day, celebrated on 8 September, Laura Bush stated that literacy helps women to fight poverty and opens doors to new opportunities. Women account for the majority of all 796 million people worldwide that cannot read or write.
Millennium development goals can be put back on track
La Prensa (4 September) published an article written by UN Under-Secretary-General Philippe Douste-Blazy. According to the author the global economic crisis has claimed many victims, especially in the developing world. What makes the downward spiral even worse is that the economic crisis has hit at a time when some progress could be noted. A UN report warns that annual investment from donor countries is falling 35 billion dollars short of the goal of 150 billion dollars. According to the author innovative financing mechanisms offer the possibility to create financial flows without disrupting economic activity. Among the best-known examples is Unitaid, a United Nation sponsored international drug-purchase facility funded largely through a small fee added to airline tickets.
Iran suspended stoning death sentence
La Prensa (9 September) states that the stoning death sentence passed against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been suspended. In 2006 the Iranian woman was convicted of adultery, a capital offence in Iran. Ashtiani is also facing charges related to her husband’s death. The death sentence was suspended one day after the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso called the punishment “barbaric beyond words”.
Permanent Commission of International Human Rights installed in Panama
La Estrella (5 September) reported on the installation of the Permanent Commission of International Human Rights (CPDIH in Spanish) in Panama. The commission consists of representatives of the National Assembly, the Panamanian Red Cross, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the police and the University of Panama. The commission will be in charge of implementing the rules set by the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional protocols of 1977, as well as other international humanitarian treaties.
Hunger and poverty
Capital (6-12 September) published an article titled “hunger and poverty”. The author of the article starts by saying that in 2000 Panama made a commitment to reduce the proportion of people living on less than 1 dollar per day with 50% by 2015. According to the latest UNDP report this number decreased from 19.66% in 1997 to 14.17% in 2003 and 12.63% in 2008. The question, however, remains: What is the government doing in order to reach the goal? According to the author the measures taken by the governments of both Martín Torrijos and Ricardo Martinelli do not meet the necessities of the people. Too often money is being given to the wrong people.