Turtle Bay

Introducing the General Assembly: Turtle Bay’s daily U.N. roundup

In addition to regular scoops and stories from inside U.N. headquarters, Turtle Bay will start offering a daily roundup of shorter news items reported both here and elsewhere. Climate crisis Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered a full-throated defense of the U.N.’s assessment of the perils of global warming, saying that a "very small number of errors" ...

In addition to regular scoops and stories from inside U.N. headquarters, Turtle Bay will start offering a daily roundup of shorter news items reported both here and elsewhere.

Climate crisis

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered a full-throated defense of the U.N.’s assessment of the perils of global warming, saying that a "very small number of errors" uncovered in a major U.N. report does not alter the scientific consensus that climate change is a threat to mankind.

Ban’s remarks came as he announced the creation of outside scientific panel, led by the Netherlands-based InterAcademy Council, to review the procedures of the U.N.’s principal climate panel. The move comes in response to criticism by climate skeptics of the integrity of the U.N.’s Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change, particularly following revelations of some typos, sloppy sourcing, and an overstated claim over how much of the Netherlands is under sea level.

Ban, who was joined by the climate panel’s beleagured chairman Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, said it was regrettable that the panel had made a few mistakes in its landmark 2007 Fourth Assessment. But he minimized the errors, saying the final report was a more than 3,000-page synthesis of complex scientific data.

"Let me be clear: the threat posed by climate changes is real," Ban told reporters at U.N. headquarters. "I see no credible evidence that challenges the main conclusions of that report. The scientific basis for climate action remains as strong as ever. Indeed, evidence collected since the 2007 report suggests climate change is accelerating."

The InterAcademy Council, which is co-chaired by Dutch physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf and Chienese scientist Ly Xongxian, will select members of a review panel that will advise the U.N. on how to avoid mistakes in its next major climate study. "This will be forward looking," Dijkgraaf told reporters in New York.

Pirates

The Russian government has proposed establishing an international tribunal to prosecute Somali pirates caught seizing international vessels off the coast of Somalia, according to council diplomats. The initiative, proposed by President Dmitry Medvedev, has received a cool reception from Western governments who feel it would be too costly to set up a tribunal. Britain and France favor building up the judicial capacity of Somali’s neighbors to prosecute the cases. So far, the Russian proposal has only been discussed among the five permanent members of the Security Council. The talks are in "the early stages," a council diplomat told Turtle Bay. "They know it won’t cost them much because they pay very little."

United Nations

Jamal Benomar, a U.N. career official and former Moroccan political prisoner, has emerged as a candidate for the top U.N. human rights post in New York. Benomar, a dual Moroccan and British citizen, was abducted by Moroccan authorites in 1976, tortured severely, and held in a secret detention center for a year. He was charged with political crimes and spent an additional seven years in prison. Benomar subsequently fled Morocco for Britain, where he received political asylum. Benomar currently serves as chief of staff to the U.N. General Assembly president, Ali Treki of Libya. (Read Turtle Bay‘s report on the other candidates.)

Somalia

As much as half of international food assistance for Somalia is being diverted to corrupt middlemen, Islamists militants, and local U.N. employees, according to an investigation by a U.N. panel. The report, which was leaked to the New York Times, calls on Secretary Ban to open an independent investigation into the World Food Program’s Somalia operations.

Congo

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in eastern Congo supplied the food, fuel, and logistical support to a Congolese officer linked to atrocities, including gang rapes, massacres and other abuses, Stephanie McCrummen reports in the Washington Post.

Follow Turtle Bay on Twitter! Frequent news updates on U.N.-related news can be found at:
http://twitter.com/columlynch

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

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