Turtle Bay

The General Assembly: Turtle Bay’s daily roundup of U.N. news

The U.S. mission Did someone forget to tell the General Services Administration that Barack Obama is president? The U.S. agency, which is responsible for erecting federal buildings, recently carved an inscription into the concrete facade of the new U.S. mission to the United Nations that suggests President Bush continues to live on at the United ...

The U.S. mission

Did someone forget to tell the General Services Administration that Barack Obama is president? The U.S. agency, which is responsible for erecting federal buildings, recently carved an inscription into the concrete facade of the new U.S. mission to the United Nations that suggests President Bush continues to live on at the United Nations:

United States of America
George W. Bush
General Services Administration
Stephen A. Perry
2010

A spokesman for Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, says the inscription is no accident. Federal law requires that the inscription reflect the U.S. president in office at the time funds were appropriated for the building. "The reconstruction of the U.S. Mission was launched by President Bush and the plaque outside recognizes that fact," Mark Kornblau, Rice’s spokesman, told Turtle Bay. "We are grateful to everyone who has worked on the project and we look forward to being back on First Avenue, right across the street from U.N. headquarters."

Women’s rights

The United Nations has been host to a major two-week-long conference on women’s rights this week, drawing appearances from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, actress Meryl Streep, and ministers from around the world. Clinton will address U.N. delegates tomorrow on the final day of the event, which is intended to review progress made in the 15 years since the Beijing conference on women’s rights. The U.S. hopes to push through a resolution that calls for progress on maternal mortality, one of several resolutions expected to be voted on Friday. Every year, an estimated 530,000 women die from largely preventable complications during pregnancy or childbirth.

"The resolution we introduce today urges governments, development partners, and civil society to tackle this problem — through strengthened political will and through increased resources needed to address the problem of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity," Rice said today. "It also recognizes that this issue is directly linked to persistent gender inequalities and calls on Member States to address the economic, cultural, social, and legal barriers that contribute to maternal mortality and morbidity."

Upwards of 700 government delegates and, as of today, 3,418 representatives from 462 NGOs have participated in the official session and the approximately 90 parallel events that have taken place. Sarah Jones, a Tony Award-winning actress, cuts through the verbiage in a hilarious one-woman skit she wrote — it gives you a flavor for the experience of thousands of small-time activists who come to the U.N. each year to petition the world’s powers to live up to their many broken promises. Scroll down on this page to the March 5 special event, and Jones begins at 18:23.

Darfur

U.S. Sudan envoy retired Maj. Gen. Scott Gration warns that there is a brief window of opportunity to conclude a comprehensive peace deal in Darfur by mid-April, reports Sudarsan Raghavan in the Washington Post. Gration says that the U.S. and other influential players will turn their attention after April to heading off a resumption of civil war in southern Sudan on the eve of a 2011 independence referendum in the south. "There is not going to be a lot of bandwidth to be doing Darfur and negotiations," Gration said.

Sudan

The Lord’s Resistance Army, the brutal Ugandan insurgency led by accused war criminal Joseph Kony, has sought haven in Darfur, according to a report by the Darfur Advocacy group ENOUGH Project. The group maintains that the Sudanese government used the LRA as a proxy force to destabilize southern Sudan in 2005. They fear the LRA may be used to resume military operations in the south on the eve of the 2011 referendum. "The Khartoum regime’s principle tool of war during its 21-year reign has been support for marauding militias such as the Janjaweed, the Murahalin and the Lord’s Resistance Army," Enough cofounder, John Prendergast said in a statement. "Absent a cost for this, we will likely see the LRA unleashed again later this year to destabilize the referendum in southern Sudan."

Sudan’s U.N. ambassador Abdalhaleem Mohamad said Enough’s allegation is "a baseless fabrication" and he accused Prendergast of engaging in a desperate, last-ditch effort to maintain attention on Darfur while the Obama administration is preparing to shift its focus to events unfolding in southern Sudan. "This is Prendergast’s last striptease," Mohamad told Turtle Bay.

Lula for U.N. secretary-general?

Brazilian media floated the idea that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva has ambitions to run for secretary-general of the United Nations when he steps down next year, reports Miami Herald columnist Andres Openheimer. Two big obstacles: The U.N.’s current secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, will likely seek a second term when his first one expires at the end of 2011, and the United States, which has veto power, is not likely to look favorably on a candidate that opposed President Obama’s efforts to impose sanctions on Iran.

Follow Turtle Bay on Twitter! Frequent news updates on U.N.-related news can be found at:
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Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy@columlynch

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