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Assist the Old, Develop the New & Plan for the Future: Week of 8/15 News Roundup

This week started and  ended with events aiding those in need throughout the world leading right to today’s World Humanitarian Day 2011.Some great achievements were made throughout the week.

 The week started with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Rights (OCHA)‘s efforts in Pakistan after monsoon floods effected the living situation of thousands of people. This organization also helped in the return this week of thousands of refugees to Southern Sudan after its strive for resources followings its independence. However, support is still needed in the world as those in regions within Darfur are still in need. Other parts of the continent still suffering from the crisis in the Horn of Africa. Many UN associated organizations came together this week during a meeting to organize an approach to help in any way they can.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a point about the progress of the UN mentioning that there are a lot of situations and crisis in need of the UN’s assistance and resources. As 2015 gets closer and closer, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon explains the importance of working now for the future. He mentions that besides looking towards the Millennium Goals for 2015, the UN must also recognize goals for after 2015.  With focus on future generations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Citizen Ambassador’s Contest continues as it looks for future global leaders to pitch their ideas for the progress of the UN’s future. The future brings new ideas and changes, as well as preserving the past which includes this week’s decision to help specifically endangered species. The UN’s focus this week, as always, remains to help now for the future.

We look forward to what the UN’s progress next week will bring to the world!


A World of Changes: Week of 7/11 News Roundup

This week brought so many changes. To start, last weekend Southern Sudan declared its independence followed by being admitted into the UN as the 193rd member this week.

The world along with the UN supports the new member state as the nation’s flag waves outside the UN Headquarters in NYC.  Along with excitement for the potential of this new nation, comes concern for the challenges it will face as a new nation in the world.

With the welcoming of a new nation, this week was also faced with unfortunate attacks in another world’s nation. There was an attack in the city of Mumbai, India, killing 21 and injuring 141 people. The UN’s Security-General Ban Ki-moon stays concerned that these attacks go against our world strive towards goals towards global peace and global security.

The UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continues to hope for positive progression in the world, in his support of Doha Documents for Peace in Darfur signed by the Sudanese Government and Liberation and Justice Movement. This agreement will work towards stopping the violence that 300,000 people have lost their lives to in the 8 years of violence.

As the world faces many challenges, good news came this week to cure diseases and save lives around the world specifically for the fight against HIV/AIDS. Medicines Patent Pool and Gilead Sciences participated in an agreement that would give people in developing countries the opportunity to have medicine to fight against the disease. Antiretroviral medicine has also been recognized this week as having the potential to save lives by acting as protection against the disease for those not exposed to it. This gives people in environments that the disease is a caution the opportunity to stay protected. With all of these great advances for HIV/AIDS, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also has agreed to donate $1 million dollars to support new ideas towards the fight against HIV/AIDS as well malaria. These new advances this week in the medical world give hope to the potential of reaching the MDG #6 as we continue to get closer and closer to the 2015 goal.

Stay involved with our world news as well hope for good change and progression in our global future.


From Peace-Building to Nation-Building: Southern Sudan

Today, July 9th, is a day of celebration and promise as Southern Sudan declares its independence and becomes a nation with the guidance of the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and UN organizations, including the United Nations Mission in Sudan.

The UN’s Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon looks at Southern Sudan’s newfound independence as the start of a challenge as they find their place and develop. In support of this burgeoning independence, yesterday the UN announced its new mission, the UNMISS UN Mission in Southern Sudan that will specifically focus on the development of the new country.  The Security Council voted unanimously to set up a new United Nations mission to help Africa’s newest nation consolidate peace and lay the foundation for longer-term state-building, conflict prevention and economic development.

While the history of Sudan is quite complicated, a brief overview is as follows: the history of Southern Sudan goes back all the way to the French and English influence on the continent of Africa in the 1800s leading to the English control of both the Northern and Southern parts of Sudan until 1956. The actions of Sudan’s People Liberation Movement in the 1980’s started the rebellion in response to perceived discrimination of Southern Sudan, along with division of religious beliefs in the region l, that led to the wars between the North and South. A peace agreement (CPA) was formed in 2002 with the assistance of the US that brought about the end of the civil war and a new government, but also created challenges in developing the area. Once the civil war ended in 2002, it was decided that a declaration would be formed between the government and Sudan’s People Liberation Movement by the end of 2004, with the support of the UNSC and CPA. These actions led to the support of the elections this past year that would allow Southern Sudan to gain its independence from the North.

Here, in the Boston area there are some interesting initiatives in support of the Southern Sudanese people. A Sudanese Education Fund has been started to support the educational development of the people that immigrate to the United States from Southern Sudan. Many Southern Sudanese people made efforts to be a part of the decision towards independence as they voted in the Boston area for Southern Sudan’s independence during the referendum in January of this year. There were a variety of different organizations that supported the Southern Sudanese voters, but specifically in this area was the South Sudanese Community Center in Arlington that worked to support the rights and independence of Southern Sudan.

You can get involved, too! Encourage the US Senate to support the development of Southern Sudan.  You can connect with all of the celebrations in real time online here.  And stay tuned as this country continues to develop and find it’s own identity.


From Reports to Tweets: Week of 7/4 News Roundup

The week started off with one of our national holidays, as we celebrated our Independence on July 4th. This holiday is both filled with a lot of history and celebrated each year with fireworks and events throughout the country.

As we reflected on our 225 years of independence, we also look towards the pending and/or newfound independence of other countries. Following in the footsteps of a variety of countries around the world that declared their own independence, comes a new addition. Southern Sudan will officially declare and celebrate it’s independence tomorrow, July 9th.

In between our Independence Day and the independence of Southern Sudan, a lot has and continues to happen. Two major reports were released this week focusing on key goals/priorities of the United Nations. UN Women released a report this week titled: “Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice”.

This report discussed the progress of women’s rights and gender equality around the world. The UN also released a report this week, “MDG Report 2011” analyzing the progress being made toward the MDG Goals for 2015. There has been a lot of progress specifically related to poverty through these goals, but there is still a lot to be done to make the 2015 deadline, including more support of equality of all genders and ages and helping those in need throughout the world.

For our technology-savvy future leaders, our leaders starting from tomorrow to 2015 and beyond, this week brought about a lot of opportunity. Twitter had a “Townhall @ The White House” which featured President Obama answering a variety of questions that were “tweeted” by the public. Next, came Facebook‘s “Open for Questions: Youth and International Development”, featuring USAID‘s Administrator Dr. Raj Shah discussing how the youth specifically can get involvement in international development.

With technology the way of the future, this week also brought about the development of an agreement between The United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and Asian standards developers that will allow the opportunity for technology to be developed quicker and at a lower cost.

With this in mind, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also opened a new United Nations information and telecommunications facility in Valenica, Spain with hopes that this facility will increase communications and the services of The United Nations around the world.

Stay posted to see what impact technology will continue to have and how we can continue to advance the rights of women, as well as democracy for all peoples.


Southern Sudan Referendum Announcement: One country or two?


On Monday the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission announced the preliminary results of the self determination referendum of Southern Sudan.  The results showed that 98.83 percent of all voters chose independence.  The overwhelming voter turnout is an official and monumental reflection of the will of the people of Southern Sudan.  View the UN Secretary General’s statement here.


Throughout the voting period, the referendum was widely expected to pass. The passage of the referendum makes South Sudan its own country, with the hope of ending its long history of violence.  The creation of an independent Southern Sudan also means rearranging commercial and political alliances throughout the region.


The next step is defining the borders between the North and South which is highly disputed due to its rich oil fields, mineral deposits, fertile land, and access to water.  Beyond the access to oil and other resources, the country is also divided by religion and language barriers. Click here for a detailed map of the disputed areas within the Sudan.

You can stay on top of the referendum results and learn more about the historic process by visiting the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau and Southern Sudan Referendum Commission’s official websites.


News Round-Up: Week of January 17th

President Hu Visits the U.S.

Credit: New York Times

Chinese President Hu Jintao is wrapping up his state visit to the United States with a brief stop in Chicago to meet with American and Chinese businessmen. His trip to the U.S. marks a new chapter in China-U.S. diplomacy.

President Hu was the guest of honor at a State Dinner hosted by President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday, January 19th at the White House. President Obama and President Hu stressed the two nations’ common interests, including potential for increased economic cooperation and the benefits of U.S.-China ties.

The two leaders also reached consensus on many important issues, including military relations, Iran, Sudan, space technology, and high-level exchanges. However, President Obama and President Hu soft-pedaled on longstanding issues that divide them, such as China’s human rights records and diplomatic dealings, China’s currency policy, and the nuclear ambitions of North Korea.

A day after the State Dinner, President Hu delivered an address in Washington in which he renounced “hegemony” and “expansionism.” President Hu also held a Capitol Hill meeting on Thursday, January 20th with Senate leaders from both parties, including Majority Leader Harry Reid.

According to China’s vice foreign minister, President Hu’s visit to Washington “proved to be successful.”

An Unexpected Visitor


Haiti’s former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier made a surprise return to Port-au-Prince on Sunday, January 16th, after being in exile for 25 years. His return added strain to an already complicated political atmosphere in Haiti brought on by the nation’s chaotic and inconclusive November 28th elections.

A day after Duvalier’s mysterious reappearance, human rights groups demanded that Haiti arrest Duvalier, nicknamed “Baby Doc,” for “crimes against humanity.” Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said Duvalier, 59, should be brought to trial for the killings and torture of thousands of opponents at the hands of the Tonton Macoutes militia during his 15 years in power.

On Tuesday, January 18th, Duvalier was briefly taken into police custody and questioned over accusations that he stole millions of dollars from the treasury during his reign. After about four hours, he was released. He could still face eventual arrest and a trial.

Duvalier did not board his scheduled flight out of Haiti on Thursday, January 20th and remains in the country as a free man.

The ex-dictator was forced into French exile in 1986 following a popular uprising against his government, which was widely believed to be brutal and corrupt.

Turmoil in Tunisia

Protests continue in Tunisia, despite a three-day period of national mourning for those who died during the month-long uprising that overthrew long-time President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Credit: AFP

Although the interim government that took over when President Ben Ali fled the country in January offered major concessions, thousands of Tunisians are now demanding the dissolution of this new political entity; they are angry that several prominent members of former President Ben Ali’s government (the Constitutional Democratic Rally) have been included in the transitional cabinet, which met for the first time in Tunis on Thursday.

The protests that began in December 2010 are believed to have started over unemployment, inflation, rumors of corruption, lack of freedom of speech, and the President’s conspicuous displays of wealth. According to the United Nations, about 100 people died during the upheaval that swept across the north African country.

The interim government is currently preparing for new presidential elections and to speed up political reforms.

A Country Divided

Credit: NASA

Southern Sudan is heading for a split. 99% of the people who participated in Southern Sudan’s week-long Referendum have opted for independence with the north. Just 1.4% of people have voted for continued unity with the north.

The counting will be finished on January 31st, and the final results will be reported on February 14th. If the result is confirmed, the new country is set to formally declare its independence on July 9th.

President Omar al-Bashir has said he will accept the result of the vote, which was held after years of war.

Sargent Shriver

Credit: Los Angeles Times

On Tuesday, January 18, Robert Sargent Shriver passed away at the age of 95. Mr. Shriver’s passion was civic life, and he fully devoted himself to honoring public service with his life’s work. Mr. Shriver, a brother-in-law of President John Kennedy, was the first director of the Peace Corps, serving in that post from 1961 to 1966, architect of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, US ambassador to France, vice presidential nominee and candidate for president. He was awarded the President Medal of Freedom in 1994.

His legacy of service to this country and the world will always be remembered.