United Nations

If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success. This phrase has become the unofficial motto of this year’s United Nations climate conference in Cancun, Mexico. A week out from Cancun, which runs over November 29 to December 10, there is little hope of meaningful progress. Yet key players have sought to throw a shroud of official optimism over the looming failure. Few Western politicians want a repeat of last year’s Copenhagen climate conference. They consider it a public relations disaster.
Moroccan occupation forces brutally attacked and destroyed the Saharawi Gdeim Izik protest camp on November 8, which had grown to over 20,000 since being established on October 9. The camp, 15 kilometres outside the capital, El Aaiun, was established to protest lack of job opportunities for Saharawi under the Moroccan occupation and mistreatment of Saharawi by Moroccan authorities.
The United Nations general assembly ratified on October 26, for the 29th consecutive time, the global rejection of the blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba for almost 50 years, Prensa Latina said that day. The isolation of the US government over Cuba was shown by the vote on the resolution entitled “The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”.
On July 28, the UN General Assembly passed a Bolivian resolution to make water and sanitation a human right. No country voted against the resolution, but 41 abstained. The following text is abridged from the speech to the General Assembly motivating the resolution by Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN. * * *
Forty-one countries abstained in the July 28 UN General Assembly vote on Bolivia’s resolution to recognise access to water and sanitation as basic human rights. Rather than honestly vote “no”, they abstained to avoid being labelled as opponents of access to water, but many made statements that revealed their hostility to the very idea of recognising water as a human right. Australia “had reservations about declaring new human rights in a General Assembly resolution”.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on June 22 the formation of a three-member panel to advise him on whether Sri Lanka committed crimes during the last months of its war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Reuters said that day.
Dutch prosecutors fired the opening salvo on May 31 in a notorious case involving a Swiss-based oil trader which dumped hazardous waste in Ivory Coast, the British Morning Star said on June 1. The dumping was allegedly to save itself the paltry sum of €400,000 (about A$576,000). The article said prosecutor Luuk Boogert accused oil trader Trafigura AG and local authorities of putting “self-interest above people’s health and environment” at the criminal trial in Amsterdam. The ship had docked at Amsterdam en-route to Ivory Coast.
The president of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced on May 24 that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on November 28, the constitutionally prescribed date. “The CEP is up to the task of organising general elections in the country”, said Gaillot Dorsinvil, who is also the handicapped sector’s representative on the nine-member council, handpicked by President Rene Preval. But tens of thousands of Haitians don’t agree and have been demonstrating in the streets in recent weeks to demand a new CEP — and Preval’s resignation.

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