Thursday, August 30, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
UN MDG: Millennium Development Grifters
Blog @ MoreWhat.com
This is another attempt to pierce the veil of secrecy covering details of the UN's Millennium Development Goals and the missing proof of concept or simple accountability for claims made of this program's success to date. A review of the UN 2007 Report on the MDG displays pretty charts and figures one is obviously expected to believe. Any discussion of this program is rather quiet and it is likely you will not hear much about it unless actively searching for answers and even then useful data is hard to obtain.
For instance, the UN MDG uses PPP or purchasing power parity as a numeric cutoff to define the buying power of those considered in extreme poverty. The first goal of the MDG is to eradicate poverty and hunger. However, a closer look at documents other than the initial publications indicates the goal is really to 'halve' whatever level of poverty existed when the program started. The current PPP of $1.08 is based on data from the World Bank and with just that much information it is quite useless for the general public, not to mention those in extreme poverty and hunger. In one of the reports it suggests that the level of those facing extreme poverty and hunger decreased from 1.25 billion in 1990 to 980 million in 2004. Another piece of information that is totally useless to the average reader. Aside from the obvious reasons, those figure are useless since the MDG program started in 1999 or 2000 and the figures include many years in which the program did not exist. Plus, there is no addressing whether or not birth and death rates were taken into account. As morbid as that may seem, if a person is dead they cannot reasonably be considered to have been lifted up beyond hunger and poverty.
That was a rather lengthy description of part of what is wrong with the MDG. But alas, this post is not the only source of criticism toward the Millennium Development Goals. After much searching, one lone source was unearthed today. Included in someone's paper on the subject was criticism of the measuring process with regard to the MDG. It is focused on medical aspects of the goals but nonetheless concludes that any meaningful data will not result from the way the UN measures goal results. And one response to the paper is enlightening as to the motives behind the MDG as well.
The following is the paper's author on goals, measurement and problems with the data.
And below is the author's description of a peer review of his paper. But the interesting part is the reviewer's opinion of what the MDG are. It nay even be the words of someone working for an NGO.
Viewed objectively, it must be agreed that the MDGs palter. The health goals for 2015 sound quantitative, but for most of them, their quantification is irretrievably flawed. The trends that the health goals allude to are either immeasurable or were not measured properly from the 1990 baseline year onward. This is not an extraordinarily controversial conclusion: recall that in each of the cautionary examples discussed—malaria, maternal mortality, and TB—the UN's own current or former staff have said that the trends are immeasurable or lack baseline data.Short of abandoning the MDGs, the better option is to amend the goals, targets, or indicators—all three levels of the hierarchy—to be feasibly measurable.
Unfortunately, the UN leadership has, to date, delayed this option. In a September 2004 memo, one year ahead of the Millennium +5 Summit, the UN's Deputy Secretary General instructed the organisation's experts in charge of the MDG statistics with the following:The [Millennium +5 Summit]…should not be distracted by arguments over the measurement of the MDGs—or worse, over different numbers being used by different agencies for the same indicator…. [P]roposals for modifications of definitions or new indicators will only be considered formally after the [Millennium +5 Summit]… as any changes at this stage would only distract from the result that we would like to achieve. 
Some may disagree with my emphasis on measurement and timelines. One anonymous peer reviewer of this paper wrote that while measuring the MDGs is “of concern for epidemiologists and others”, my interpretation “misses the point” because the purpose of the MDGs is merely to be exhortatory. “The MDGs are not a measuring exercise”, wrote the reviewer, but instead are a “common vision of what matters most for improving the lives of people in poor countries”.
It is always refreshing (NOT) to have someone who is not suffering from extreme poverty and hunger express what matters most to people who are. It should be clear to anyone reading this that independently determining the value or lack of value in just one of the MDG goals requires an excessive amount of research. That only serves to make the point that the UN is missing a key element in their Millennium Development Goals. Readily available proof of results in a form understood by the general public would provide some credibility to an organization plagued by suspicion.
There is currently no reasonable way to tell if anyone is better off because of the Millennium Development Goals program. The only thing to be sure of is UN representatives will continue to hound the world for more money while some of us continue to question and criticize the UN.
Iran -UN World Conference against Racism.
Yaakov Lappin for YNet News:
Despite its numerous calls for Israel's destruction, and repeated denials of the Holocaust, Iran has been selected by the United Nations for a leading position in a committee that will plan the 2009 UN World Conference against Racism.
The planning committee, which will meet for the first time in Geneva on August 27, will be made up of an inner circle of 20 UN member-states, to be headed by Libya.
The decision to include Iran in the committee has been slammed by UN watchdogs. "As a UN spokesperson against racism, Iran will invert totally the message and mission of the United Nations," Anne Bayefsky, senior editor of the New York-based Eye on the UN, said in a press release.
"Iran is now poised to wrap itself in a UN flag as a lead agent of the next global conference against racism, Durban II," she added, referring to the 2001 UN conference on racism held in Durban, South Africa, which saw unprecedented levels of anti-Zionist rhetoric and calls for Israel's destruction.
Speaking to Ynetnews, Bayefsky said that "the leading exponents of anti-Semitism, whether directed at Jews individually or the Jewish people and its state generally, continue to be provided a global platform at the UN. This is but one example of a broader phenomenon."
"Eye on the UN has found that in 2006 the UN system as a whole directed the most condemnations for human rights abuses against specific states - first towards Israel and fourth towards the United States. Iran was lower down on the list of UN human rights concerns," Bayefsky said, adding: "And yet the US taxpayer continues to pay a quarter of the bill for activities which demonize Americans and Israelis on a global scale."You could not make it up. Only yesterday we had this report on 25-year-old Saeed Ghanbari in the Daily Mail who was given 80 lashes by an Iranian court it was reported he had been convicted of abusing alcohol and having sex outside of marriage.
Daily Mail report: Man flogged by Iranian court as people watch.
Cross posted at The Lone Voice
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The UN's MDG Campaign
Blog @ MoreWhat.com
Sometimes thoughts arrive in such a torrent when researching a post it makes it difficult to follow the plan. This is one of those times. The easy part is browsing for a suitable topic about the UN. It should be something useful for anyone reading the post. If it relates to a recent event some effort should be made not to duplicate the effort of others. The item of interest was found early. The Millennium Development Goals appeared and after a half hour of reading too many questions arose not to choose this topic.
Like most United Nations projects or initiatives an abundance of material is available. Most will no doubt contain fluffy accounts of progress and an appeal to the readers emotions to convert them to an advocate. The documents and other media reviewed today cannot be adequately presented in one post. Looks like a series may have been born. This post will be limited to an introduction.
You might get the impression that whatever the Millennium Development Goals are they are somehow connected to the year 2000. You would be right. According to UN docs, they are currently half way to the deadline for completing the goals. All the world's countries agreed to this plan as well as all the world's development institutions. There are eight goals. Reading the goals is the part that begins to raise the questions. Then the idea of half the time being gone and half left leading to the natural instinct to wonder how much has been completed.
The stated goals were read and the torrent of thoughts began. All the thoughts were questions. The wording of the first goal was question number one. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger is the first goal listed and right away the word 'extreme' jumped out. How easy will it be to define whatever they get done, if anything, as extreme? Leaving anything they don't get done as less than extreme. A little too critical of the UN? Do you really think they are above such a cheap stunt? If you do, please explain why they use the word extreme. Why not just use some fixed amount like eradicating hunger or poverty in country A, B and C for example. You get the point. It leaves an escape from responsibility for completing a task that is not precisely defined.
The second goal of achieving universal primary education may be tougher to abuse. But what does the 'achieving' part mean? Is all they are saying is it will be available and the same for everyone who participates? Or are they saying what most would accept as implicit? That every human on the planet gets a primary education. And the question of defining primary in this case won't be asked yet.
The remaining six goals only feature the last one as being likely to see completion. Promoting gender equality is not something that really begins or ends and neither is the other part of empowering women. Does saving one person from an early death before adulthood qualify as reducing child mortality? Who would be surprised if something that ridiculous was offered as an explanation after a UN failure? Improving maternal health, combating disease and ensuring environmental sustainability (the global warming game) are worded as empty as the earlier goals. But you can probably bet they will finish the last one. Develop a global partnership for development is the last and only goal that is nearly guaranteed to be completed. For the UN is little more than a global partnership for manipulating the people of the world on a grand international level. Trading the world's future at the expense of the world's citizens.
Skeptical, cynical, mistrusting and pessimistic is a natural response to the United Nations and its activities based on many previous outcomes. Like many other processes on the planet, members of the UN have put together a PR machine that excels in redefining diplomacy, statesmanship and other principles for achieving the trade offs necessary to reach agreements with other nations. All the members get a piece of the pie while the original concept has been abandoned except as a tool for press releases.
The first attempt to determine the status of the Millennium Development Goals began with agriculture. A link from the UN (and there are many) connected to the World Bank. Go figure. A somewhat impressive Flash presentation was to show the status on many things. The first item checked was hunger. An illustrated, interactive map displayed the map of the world color coded for % of hunger of children. The highest color code was 30% and up (infinity). The incremental code ended at the bottom with a color indicating no data. The map had many countries with the color code for no data. Two especially surprising countries to be uncounted were Canada and India. Canada because the population is about 10% of that in the US. And India because it may have the 2nd largest population in the world. Halfway through the project and there is no data?
More details as well as helpful sources will be offered in the next post. Perhaps less narrative and more mind numbing statistics will be presented. Okay, maybe not. The thoughts are still coming in torrents. The scale and quantity of possible misdeeds and disappointments that will come from this UN sponsored activity is really what numbs the mind; not the statistics.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Victory at Risk: The UN in Iraq
Blog @ MoreWhat.com
In spite of all the efforts of those not directly involved in the war
in Iraq to facilitate a failure by aiding the enemy or favoring
surrender, their has been much positive news presented in recent weeks.
The antiwar, peacenik, surrender at any cost crowd may be in for a rude
awakening as a result of the incredible commitment of the United States
That is why news of possible re-involvement of the United Nations in
Iraq is a bit troubling. While those opposed to victory in Iraq
will attribute UN member opposition to military force in Iraq to the
flawed intel and other mistakes leading up to the war, that would be
putting the horse in front of the cart. The opposition was for
different reasons and the intel flaws were not determined or presented
until after the war began. The reasons for the opposition had
more to do with arrangements with Saddam Hussein by those expressing
opposition to enforcing UN resolutions. The primary reason for
opposition presented by the left in the US had little to do with any
antiwar philosophy. That excuse was used by liberal politicians
to inflame the antiwar segment of the public to cover the failures of
the Clinton Administration. Had Clinton successfully addressed
the Saddam Hussein problem during his Administration, the problem would
not have been left for President Bush.
News reports indicate President Bush and Prime Minister Brown are in
favor of this new UN involvement. Some sources report there are
clerics and others associated with various groups in Iraq who prefer
discussion with the UN rather than with American or British
leaders or representatives. Perhaps that preference is based on
insistence from the United States, Britain and others that the new
Iraqi government is dragging its feet in forging solutions among its
members. The recent defections from the government and its
members' summer vacation are examples of a complacent attitude.
Which brings this discussion to the conclusion to be drawn in this
post. There may be some truth in all the talk of a need for a
political solution in Iraq. But not for the reasons often
given. Just as Democrats have conceded a victory in Iraq would be
a problem for them, the same may be true of members of the new Iraqi
government as well as previous opposition from members of the UN.
The trade, economic or financial scams initiated by Saddam Hussein with
certain UN member countries was the real motive behind opposition to US
enforcement of UN resolutions. The Democratic party's political
agenda was the real motive behind opposing the war in Iraq. And
the failure of the new Iraqi government to solve their problems in a
timely manner can be explained by the selfish motives of members who
stand to gain by prolonging sectarian violence.
If the continued success of current military operations in Iraq provide
enough positive news in September to thwart efforts of the contrived
opposition, victory in the Iraq war may be at hand. But the
question remains whether current plans for UN intervention will
jeopardize the current success. Members of the Iraqi government
who prefer UN intervention may only see it as a way of prolonging the
conflict. While the real reason the US and Britain express
support for the UN may in fact be a concession. T(hat offering may
develop into an Achilles heel for victory.
UN Security Council to vote on Iraq mission
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The UN Security Council was expected to vote on
Friday on a resolution to expand the United Nations role in Iraq,
U.N. council to vote on Iraq resolution
By EDITH M. LEDERER, AP
UNITED NATIONS - U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said a resolution
that would expand the U.N. mandate in Iraq will internationalize the
effort to assist Iraqis in overcoming their internal differences and
bringing neighboring countries together to help the country.
have expanded political role in Iraq
By Patrick Worsnip
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations will see its role in Iraq
expanded to include seeking reconciliation between warring factions and
dialogue with neighboring countries under a Security Council resolution
planned for Friday.
Blue Dogs barking
For the first time during 110th Congress, the Blue Dog Coalition — a
47-member grouping of self-described moderate and conservative
Democrats — defied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic
leadership on a critical national security issue: Saturday night's vote
on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), where 41 dissident
Democrats, nearly all of them Blue Dogs, provided the margin of victory
for President Bush on the issue of terrorist surveillance.
Clyburn: Petraeus Report May Split Dems
On its website, the Washington Post reports House Majority Whip James
Clyburn said "a strongly positive report on progress on Iraq" by Gen.
David Petraeus "likely would split Democrats in the House and impede
his party's efforts to press for a timetable to end the war." Clyburn,
in an interview with the washingtonpost.com video program PostTalk,
"said Democrats might be wise to wait for the Petraeus report,
scheduled to be delivered in September, before charting [their] next
steps." Clyburn noted that Petraeus "carries significant weight among
the 47 members of the Blue Dog caucus in the House, a group of moderate
to conservative Democrats," and "without their support...Democratic
leaders would find it virtually impossible to pass legislation setting
a timetable for withdrawal."
Split in anti-war left
By Manu Raju
August 08, 2007
Congress’s failure to secure a timetable for withdrawing American
troops from Iraq has split anti-war activists on the tactical question
of whether to attack Democrats, who now control Capitol Hill.
The split has also underlined accusations among some activists that
MoveOn has abandoned its credentials as an issue-based advocacy group
and now instead provides cover for Democratic Party leaders.
Opinion: The Turn
William Kristol Mon Aug 6, 11:13 AM ET
Washington (The Weekly Standard) Vol. 012, Issue 45 - 8/13/2007 - Hot
July brings cooling showers, / Apricots and gillyflowers, as Sara
Coleridge's doggerel has it. But for the American antiwar movement,
this July brought only a cold drizzle, wilted blossoms, and bitter
For the Iraq war's opponents, July began as a month of hope. It ended
in retreat. It began with Democratic unity in proclaiming the
inevitability of American defeat. It ended with respected military
analysts--Democrats, no less!--reporting that the situation on the
ground had improved, and that the war might be winnable..
Friday, August 03, 2007
Thugs Gone Wild at the UN
Blog @ MoreWhat.com
Ban Ki Moon, the current Secretary General of the UN who follows Kofi Annan in that role has presented both contrast and similarities to his predecessor. At face value, his suggestion that all countries should be treated equally with regard to human rights policies is fair and should be an obvious conclusion to draw for reasonable people. If the Islamic Council had not criticized him for the remarks with accusations of taking sides, this would have been just another press item from the United Nations. Without the noise from the Islamic Council, Moon's remarks would have resembled the style of Annan by overstating the obvious. Moon's subtle insinuation was detected by this story's antagonists.
The excerpt and video below provide a dramatic presentation of the situation and further explain what most already know. Some of the nation's in the UN are deflecting attention from their abusive policies by pointing their fingers at Israel as the sole target of a scheme to shift guilt.
UN Watch Briefing
Analysis and Commentary from UN Watch in Geneva
July 11, 2007 — Issue 163
New Video: UN Human Rights Council Members—In Their Own Words
At its recent June 2007 session, the UN Human Rights Council concluded its lengthy reform process by voting, first, to drop Belarus and Cuba from its blacklist. New restrictions were imposed on the independent experts who report on country violations. The ability to introduce resolutions that name abusers was curbed. And Israel was singled out for permanent indictment—subjected to the council's sole agenda item on a specific country, and to the sole investigation that examines only one side, presumes guilt in advance, and is immune from review.
The Human Rights Council of the United Nations has been under fire since its inception. This year is no different. The report below is from the UN's own documents and is a brief insight to another flawed initiative from an organization that continues to give new reasons why there is another meaning to the name United Nations. Just in what and how are they united? Can the world really afford to continue these sham activities? What can this sort of behavior ever solve? There are essentially rhetorical questions.
Fourteen nations elected to serve on UN Human Rights Council
17 May 2007 – Fourteen countries have been elected to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council after two rounds of balloting among Member States today at UN Headquarters in New York.
Angola, Bolivia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Qatar, Slovenia and South Africa were successful after the first round of voting, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Italy were chosen following a second round.
Here is a response from the other side of the issue.
Ki-Moon Criticized Over Israel
by Marc Shoffman - Thursday 2nd August 2007
Muslim states in the United Nations Human Rights Council have been criticized after attacking UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for sticking up for Israel.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the UN’s 57-strong Organization of the Islamic Conference at a UN meeting last Wednesday, attacked Ki-Moon after he said it was unfair to single out Israel for permanent review.
Ban said all countries should be treated equally after a resolution by the Council last June which put Israel’s human rights conduct under permanent review while failing to name any other countries.
(click to read the rest)
An excerpt from a recent speech by Ban Ki Moon demonstrates both his similarities and contrasts to Annan. The contrast is another reference to some truth about the UN while his other statements sound like Annan in his limp defense of the United Nations.
Unfortunately over the last six decades, even though the United Nations has been promoting human rights, peace and development, it has not enjoyed proper appreciation.
Polls show that two thirds of Americans think the United Nations is doing a poor job. Yet these same polls show that even larger majorities (74 per cent, to be exact) believe the United Nations should play a larger role in the world –- whether intervening to prevent genocide or aggressively investigating human rights abuses. An equally healthy percentage of Americans believe that the nation’s foreign policy should be conducted in partnership with the United Nations. (Read the full report) CLICK
Even the Secretary General points to data showing that two out of three Americans look unfavorably towards the United Nations. He may have misinterpreted the 74% figure. Perhaps three out of four Americans answered the way they did indicating the UN does little if anything to fulfill its obligations. Do something!!! That may be the real sentiment of those represented in the poll.
But Moon should get some credit for his remarks about human rights and how all countries should be treated equally. Yet nosing in to US affairs regarding incarceration of illegal aliens and allowing the Human Rights Council and the Islamic Council to conspire against others, especially in such blatant fashion, should be quelled. So his remarks may have been just another empty PR task from an empty leader. To be fair, more time should pass before judging this individual. But all experience and history thus far suggests a low probability of any improvements
Even the recent activity with distributing peace keeping forces around the world has more chance of causing more sexual abuse cases than resolving conflict. The UN must successfully string together a number of significant, positive accomplishments that can withstand global scrutiny before any optimism can be displayed.