Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Darfur, the UN Millennium Goals, Climate Crisis, & the Death of the Republic: If Humanity Misses the Deadlines Just Ahead, There Will Be Hell to Pay

Image: Tara, the Green Goddess of Mercy, and Her Twenty-One Emanations

Darfur, the UN Millennium Goals, Climate Crisis, & the Death of the Republic: If Humanity Misses the Deadlines Just Ahead, There Will Be Hell to Pay

By Richard Power

As I articulated at the beginning of 2008, collectively, we face several looming deadlines of profound significance:

In November 2008, indeed, in just a few weeks, the US electorate will chose a new administration. If it chooses wisely, there is modest hope for the future. If it chooses foolishly (or is denied its true choice, as it was in 2000 and 2004), our nation will soon be unrecognizable, and the vision of Jefferson and Paine will be lost perhaps forever.

Meanwhile, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, the conscience of humanity proves itself spent and lost as the people of Darfur are increasingly imperiled, harassed on all sides, and abandoned to horrors. In the absence of the meaningful participation of the great nations, the joint UN-AU peacekeeping mission is inadequate to the task at hand. Incredibly, year after year, some leaders wring their hands ineffectually while others are simply whistling passed a mass grave in the making.

Furthermore, in 2009, the community of nations must reach an aggressive climate crisis accord -- i.e., to radically and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If it does not, it is possible that sooner than later, our planet will take on some fascinating characteristics, reminiscent of one of those inhospitable worlds we peer at through our great telescopes. But there will be no one (at least, no humans) to behold those harsh wonders.

But the community of nations is also committed to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015. The UN MDG should be a slam-dunk and a no-brainer. Most of us understand by now that when you empower women, nurture children, improve sanitation, etc., that you mitigate risk, strengthen democracy, enhance life and "lift all boats." And yet, the news is not good.

Here are brief excerpts from two deeply troubling stories, one about the noose tightening for the lynching of Darfur, and the other about the increasingly likelihood of falling short of the UN MDG, please read these stories, and share their implications with your friends and colleagues. There is still time, although it is very late.

The United Nations on Sunday threatened to suspend emergency food deliveries to parts of Sudan's Darfur region after a surge of hijackings and bandit attacks.
The U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) said "relentless" attacks on its food convoys, workers and drivers were pushing staff to the limit.
"Should these attacks continue, the situation will become intolerable -- to the point that we will have to suspend operations in some areas of Darfur," the WFP's Deputy Representative in Sudan, Monika Midel, said.
WFP spokesman Rachid Jaafar told Reuters the agency had not decided which delivery routes would be cut. "But large numbers will be affected," he said.
The WFP currently delivers food to more than 3 million people in Darfur, he added.
The agency put out its statement after three trucks and four staff were hijacked in south Darfur last Wednesday. The vehicles were recovered on Saturday and the workers rescued.
It said more than 100 vehicles had already been hijacked this year and many more shot at and robbed.
A total of 43 drivers and 69 trucks were still missing it said, adding that drivers were now refusing to drive certain routes.
Reuters, 9-7-08

Trade and aid are still major barriers to achieving the anti-poverty goals that countries committed themselves to achieving by 2015, despite significant progress in debt relief for the poorest States, according to a United Nations report launched today by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The report – “Delivering on the Global Partnership for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” – was prepared by the MDG Gap Task Force, created by Mr. Ban to track global commitments on aid, trade and debt, and to follow progress on access to essential medicines and technology.
Released ahead of a high-level event on the MDGs to be convened by Mr. Ban in New York on 25 September, the report finds that donors will need to boost their development assistance by $18 billion a year between now and 2010 if they are to meet the pledges they made in 2000 to halve poverty and other socio-economic ills. ...
Ad Melkert, Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and chair of the Task Force, recalled recent findings by the World Bank showing that the number of people living in absolute poverty globally is estimated to be 500 million higher than previously assumed.
“This serves as a reminder that the relentless focus on the facts on the ground is key to maintaining the momentum of the Millennium Goals campaign,” he stated.
He also emphasized the “indispensability” of a larger commitment by the rich world towards MDG 8, which he said is “essentially the signature to the contract for development between the rich and the poor.”

UN News Centre, 9-4-08

I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.

Click here to sign the TURN OFF/TUNE IN Pledge.

For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

Here are other sites of importance:

Dream for Darfur

Enough: The Project to End Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Genocide Intervention Network

Divest for Darfur.

Save Darfur!

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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