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United Nations Week – 6/28

June 28, 2010

by John and Douglas Carey,  www.unweek.blogspot.com

In this issue: UN publications go high-tech; US criticized in Decolonization Committee

 UN publications go high-tech.

 The UN just announced on June 25th the release of UN e-book applications for the iPhone and the iPad, as well as e-books for Amazon’s Kindle, that will give users easy access to offline reading and reference on global issues. This coincides with the sixty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter.

The first United Nations publications available as applications (or “apps”) are flagship titles such as the UN Charter, The United Nations Today, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations Today is also now available on Kindle, Amazon’s e-book device.

In the next few days, the UN will release at Apple’s App Store a free application that highlights the progress towards the Millennium Develop-ment Goals. In the coming weeks more titles will be offered as iPhone and iPad applications. These titles will also be available on Kindle and other e-book systems such as Blackberry, Android and Symbian in the near future.

In announcing this development, Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, said that “this initiative will contribute to the wider dissemination of United Nations publications around the world.  It is an important first step forward toward a major revamping of e-publishing activities at the United Nations”.

Available for a nominal fee at the App Store, UN e-book apps allow users to take advantage of the advanced capabilities of the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad user interface to learn more about the Organization and its work. Features of the United Nations e-book apps include:  simple user interface; full-text search; intuitive navigation; and links to other United Nations titles.

UN Publications brings together over 6,000 titles produced by the Organization and its principal agencies, covering a wide range of topics such as peace and security, humanitarian affairs, women and population, environment, health and urban issues, human rights, law and crime prevention, trade, investment and technology.  It also offers an extensive collection of statistical data and publications in electronic format.

US criticized in Decolonization Committee

          On June 22nd, in the General Assembly’s “Special Committee of 24,” several petitioners, speaking out against militarization of Guam by the United States, called upon members of the Committee to visit the Non-Self-Governing Territory and see the situation for themselves as soon as possible.

Attention was called to the release by the United States of an 11,000-page draft environmental impact statement, which the people of Guam had been given 90 days to study and comment on.  Hope Antoinette Cristobal urged the Special Committee to study the document, which was “in direct violation of various international human rights instruments, including United Nations resolutions and declarations”.

Rima Ilarishigh Peter Miles, speaking on behalf of Women for Genuine Security, alleged that United States Navy activities carried out on the island had gravely impacted the environment, human health and the welfare of the territorial government. 

She said the presence of the US Navy in Guam had brought about extremely negative impacts, including environmental deterioration, the drying up of major freshwater sources and a population boom of 80,000, which had created a financial burden for the territorial government.  Such challenges warranted the Special Committee’s support in demanding that the United States take no further action in militarizing the Mariana Islands, she said.

“The United States does not care what it destroys as long as no one knows about it,” she stressed, noting that the militarization of Guam was a direct impediment to the right of self-determination.  As for the severe health implications of militarization for the Chamoru people, she tearfully called upon the United Nations to send a visiting mission to survey the situation and to challenge protocol in such matters when the administering Power was non-cooperative.  It was critical, she said,  to protect Guam’s land and resources and to help the Territory achieve the highest possible level of economic self-reliance, and environmental protection, as well as social and educational development.

Hope Antoinette Cristobal said Guam’s indigenous people continued to suffer social, cultural and environmental annihilation at the hands of their United States oppressors.  The Chamorro people were dying and suffering at disproportionate rates in comparison with their United States counterparts, she said, noting that their health concerns were similar to those in New Caledonia, which suffered “an overrepresentation” of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug use, and violence.  Guam had some of the world’s highest suicide rates, and the hyper-militarization plans of the United States would exacerbate those problems.  As the administering Power for more than six decades, the United States must bear responsibility for Guam’s tragic invisibility, which had resulted in inadequate public-health resources.

She recalled that, in 2005, the people of Guam had been notified through the media that some 7,000 United States marines were being transferred to the Territory from Okinawa. Six months after the release of the impact statement, the territorial government was struggling to get United States funding to deal with the anticipated impact on water, power and sewer infrastructure, as well as seaport facilities contained in the plans.

Emphasizing that it behooved the Special Committee to study the document, which was in direct violation of various international human rights instruments, including United Nations resolutions and declarations, she said the United States was making plans to dredge 287,327 square meters of coral reefs in Apra Harbour, Guam’s only natural deep-water harbor, which already contained high traces of arsenic, lead, copper, mercury and tin, among other harmful chemicals.

She went on to say that traditional lands comprising a recently designated national historic preservation site and sacred areas near Mount LamLam had been scheduled for land takeovers through coercive procedures or outright purchase.  There was no indication that the United States would adhere to its responsibilities under United Nations resolutions and treaties, and Guam’s people would suffer irreparable damage as a result, she added.

She asked the Special Committee to declare, unequivocally, that the militarization of Guam was a major impediment to the Decolonization Declaration, and that Guam’s separate and distinct status under the United Nations Charter should exist until the Chamorro people had exercised their right to self-determination, without external interference.  She asked the Special Committee to request a United Nations visiting mission to Guam as soon as possible.

Julie Gilgoff, a Guam journalist, read out a statement on behalf of Senator Vicente Cabrera Pangelinan, saying that the people of Guam wanted to resolve their political relationship with the United States before ceding any more control of their lands and oceans, or the rights of the people.  The Special Committee must advance the self-determination process immediately, because recent decisions by the administer-ing Power diluted that right daily.  The decision to increase the population base in Guam, a Non-Self-Governing Territory, contravened the principles of decolonization, and was being carried out in a disingenuous, secretive manner.  In the United States’ own words, the planned increased military presence was the most massive movement of military personnel since the Second World War.

That’s all for this June 28th issue of United Nations Week: News and Views. We’ll be back with the next issue. Meantime, do send your own views on UN issues to www.unweek.blogspot.com

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