Posts tagged united nations
Brazil and Germany today joined forces to press for the adoption of a U.N. General Resolution that promotes the right of privacy on the internet, marking the first major international effort to restrain the National Security Agency’s intrusions into the online communications of foreigners, according to diplomatic sources familiar with the push.
The effort follows a German claim that the American spy agency may have tapped the private telephone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other world leaders. It also comes about one month after Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff denounced NSA espionage against her country as “a breach of international law” in a General Assembly speech and proposed that the U.N. establish legal guidelines to prevent “cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war.”
Brazilian and German diplomats met in New York today with a small group of Latin American and European governments to consider a draft resolution that calls for expanding privacy rights contained in the International Covenant Civil and Political Rights to the online world. The draft does not refer to a flurry of American spying revelations that have caused a political uproar around the world, particularly in Brazil and German. But it was clear that the revelation provided the political momentum to trigger today’s move to the United Nations. The blowback from the NSA leaks continues to agonize U.S. diplomats and military officials concerned about America’s image abroad.
“This is an example of the very worst aspects of the Snowden disclosures,” a former defense official with deep experience in NATO, told The Cable, referring to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. “It will be very difficult for the US to dig out of this, although we will over time. The short term costs in credibility and trust are enormous.”
Although the U.N.’s ability to fundamentally constrain the NSA is nil, the mounting international uproar over U.S. surveillance has security experts fearful for the ramifications.
“The worst case scenario I think would be having our European allies saying they will no longer share signals intelligence because of a concern that our SigInt is being derived from mechanisms that violate their privacy rules,” said Ray Kimball, an army strategist with policy experience on European issues. He stressed that he was not speaking for the military.
Although the Germans have not indicated such a move is in the works, they do have a game plan for making their surveillance complaints heard. The International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights was written in 1966 and came into force in 1976, decades before the internet transformed the way people communicate around the world. A provision in the international covenant, Article 17, says “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation.” It also states that “everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
“The covenant was formulated at a time when the internet didn’t exist,” said a diplomat familiar with the negotiations. “Everyone has the right to privacy and the goal is to this resolution is to apply those protections to online communications.”
Brazil and Germany are hoping to put the resolution to a vote in the U.N. General Assembly human rights committee later this year. The draft resolution, which has not been made public and which is still subject to negotiation among U.N. states, will seek to apply the those protections to online communications. “This is not just about spying,” said the diplomat. This is about ensuring that “privacy of citizens in their home states under their own home legislation.”
“It calls on countries to put an end to violations of that right,” the official said. “People have to be protected offline and online.”
Anyone who thinks this issue will only resonate in Brazil, Mexico, France, Italy, and Germany — where the Snowden leaks recently revealed NSA datamining — isn’t paying attention.
According to the latest internal NSA memo leaked to The Guardian, the list of targeted nations is even longer, which could give this U.N. effort additional momentum. The NSA monitored the communications of 35 unnamed “world leaders,” whose phone numbers were given to the intelligence agency by a U.S. government official, according to the report. The agency has been collecting phone numbers, email addresses, and residential addresses of foreign officials from the people in the U.S. government who are in touch with them. The U.S. official, who is not named, personally handed over 200 phone numbers about the people he or she was in touch with.
It’s hardly a secret, or a surprise, that the NSA spies on foreign governments, including those friendly to the United States. Two former intelligence officials told The Cable that contact information like this is a regular source of intelligence for the NSA. And the memo acknowledges that the agency looks for officials’ contact information in open sources, such as the Internet.
But the revelation that U.S. officials are facilitating spying on the people they do business with to this extent has created the impetus for U.N. action, a first-of-its kind development.
“There’s a mixture of hypocrisy and feigned outrage along with real objections here,” said a former senior intelligence official. “I don’t know where the line is. The idea that political leaders are out of bounds for foreign intelligence is amusing. But on the other hand this business about trusting allies is a big thing. My guess is there’s a real annoyance here” on the part of foreign allies.
Merkel was so outraged by the news that her phone had been monitored that she called President Obama to discuss it. The White House issued a carefully worded statement, assuring that the German leader’s phone would not be tapped now or in the future, but not saying whether it had been.
It’s not clear whether the NSA is still collecting information from the address books of U.S. officials. The memo was written in 2006. But at least at the time, such collection was a regular occurrence.
“From time to time, SID [the agency's signals intelligence directorate] is offered access to the personal contact databases of U.S. officials,” the memo states. It doesn’t specify who those officials are, or where in the government they work. But, the memo goes on to say, the information provided by the one U.S. official was sufficiently helpful that the agency decided to go around asking for more such contacts from the NSA’s “supported customers,” which include the Departments of Defense and State, as well as the White House. (None of them are listed by name in the memo.)
“These numbers have provided lead information to other numbers,” the memo states. In the case of the one U.S. officials, the 200 numbers included 43 that previously weren’t on the NSA’s radar.
“This success leads S2 [part of the signals intelligence directorate] to wonder if there are NSA liaisons whose supported customers may be willing to share” their contacts, as well. “S2 welcomes such information!”
Apparently, though, success was measured not so much in secrets learned but just in having the data itself. The memo acknowledges that analysts “have noted little reported intelligence from these particular numbers, which appear not to be used for sensitive discussions.”
From this we might conclude that NSA’s targets are not fools. Why would anyone in the senior ranks of a government or military have sensitive conversations or discuss classified information over the phone number or email on his business card? But, the NSA seems to have concluded, what could it hurt to find out?
Time will tell. In a statement, a spokesperson for Merkel said she told Obama that tapping her phone would represent a “grave breach of trust” between the two allies. “She made clear that she views such practices, if proven true, as completely unacceptable and condemns them unequivocally.”
With the latest news from the U.N., it appears the U.S. might be in store for more than just a slap on the wrist. source – Foreign Policy
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.” Zechariah 12:9
When you read, and believe, what God has written in His Holy Word regarding Israel a much different picture begins to emerge than that which is presented to you in the daily news. Israel, God says, will be repeatedly besieged by nearly every nation on earth and none but the Lord of Hosts will come to her aid. In that day, even America will turn on Israel and the chosen people. So these recent developments at the United Nations shocks none of us who read and believe what the prophets have already spoken.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Mortified that the world may be warming up to Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is taking an unpopular message to the White House and the United Nations this week: Don’t be fooled by Tehran’s new leadership.
Netanyahu contends Iran is using conciliatory gestures as a smoke screen to conceal an unabated march toward a nuclear bomb.
He will deliver those strong words of caution — and fresh intelligence — in an attempt to persuade the U.S. to maintain tough economic sanctions and not allow the Islamic republic to develop a bomb or even move closer to becoming a nuclear threshold state.
With the White House cautiously optimistic about its dialogue with Iran, Monday’s meeting between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama could be tense.
“I will tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and the onslaught of smiles,” Netanyahu said before boarding his flight to the U.S. on Sunday. “Telling the truth today is vital for the security and peace of the world and, of course, it is vital for the security of the state of Israel.”
Israeli leaders watched with great dismay what they derisively call the “smiley campaign” by Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, last week. Rouhani delivered a conciliatory speech at the United Nations in which he repeated Iran’s official position that it has no intention of building a nuclear weapon and declared his readiness for new negotiations with the West.
Capping off the visit, Rouhani and Obama held a 15-minute phone call as the Iranian leader was traveling to the airport. By the end of the call, the first conversation between the nation’s leaders in 34 years, Obama was suggesting that a breakthrough on the nuclear issue could portend even deeper ties between the U.S. and Iran. U.S. and European diplomats hailed a “very significant shift” in Iran’s attitude and tone.
For Netanyahu, such sentiments are nothing short of a nightmare.
For years, he has warned that Iran is steadily marching toward development of nuclear weapons, an assessment that is widely shared by the West because of Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium and its run-ins with international nuclear inspectors.
The Israeli prime minister contends Rouhani’s outreach is a ploy to ease international sanctions and buy time. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran an unacceptable threat, given repeated Iranian assertions that the Jewish state should not exist. Israel has a long list of other grievances against Iran, citing its support for hostile Arab militant groups, its development of long-range missiles and alleged Iranian involvement in attacks on Israeli targets in Europe and Asia.
On Sunday, Israel announced the arrest of a Belgian-Iranian businessman on espionage charges.
Netanyahu says the new Iranian leader must be judged on his actions, not his words. In the meantime, he says sanctions and other international pressure, including the threat of military action, must be increased. He has likened Iran to North Korea, which used the guise of international negotiations to secretly develop a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu appears to enjoy widespread domestic support for his tough approach. Israel’s Channel 10 TV released the results of a poll Sunday night showing that 78 percent of respondents don’t believe Iran wants to resolve the nuclear problem. Fifty-nine percent said they do not think the U.S. will reach an agreement with Iran, while just 29 percent said they expect a resolution. The station did not say how many people were questioned or provide a margin of error.
Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. who now serves as an adviser to Netanyahu, said the prime minister would present Obama with “some very hard facts” based on intelligence showing that Iranian behavior has not changed.
Similarly, in his speech at the U.N., “he will make it very clear that Israel and the world at large should continue to be on guard,” he said.
Over the years, Israel has issued shifting assessments of how close Iran is to producing a weapon. Last year, Netanyahu presented a cartoon diagram to the U.N. showing that Iran would enter the final phase of weapons production by mid-2013. Israel has since backed off that assessment.
Netanyahu’s intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, said international pressure forced Iran to slow production.
While American officials are well aware of Israel’s concerns, they say there are no plans to reverse the latest diplomatic push.
Two senior Obama administration officials said that the U.S. expects Israel to be skeptical about Iran’s overture, and that the U.S. is similarly skeptical.
Obama will try to convince Netanyahu that the U.S. won’t consider lifting sanctions until Iran takes concrete actions to show it is serious about a verifiable, transparent agreement, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.
Obama will also seek to assure his Israeli counterpart that if the U.S. reaches a deal with Iran, it will ultimately advance Israel’s security interests by resolving the nuclear issue without the need for military intervention.
Obama’s bottom line remains that Iran can’t be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, the officials said.
Israel, though, wants the U.S. to establish clear “red lines” to prevent Iran from pressing forward with its nuclear program and moving toward threshold status — having the capability to build a nuclear weapon without actually possessing one. That scenario is unacceptable to Israel.
Netanyahu has laid out four demands: that Iran stop enriching uranium; that its stockpiles of enriched uranium be removed from the country; that a fortified underground enrichment facility be closed; and that Iran not make plutonium, another possible path toward nuclear weapons.
Eytan Gilboa, an expert on U.S.-Israel relations at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, predicted a “very difficult conversation” on Monday.
The Americans “like Rouhani. They think he represents a new policy, a new approach and therefore should be given at least a chance. Netanyahu’s strategy is to say that this whole thing is a big hoax,” Gilboa said. “There are no buyers for his message.” source – Yahoo News
BREAKING UPDATE: John Kerry Signs UN Arms Control Treaty at 10:33AM EST
From Fox News: Secretary of State John Kerry plans to sign a controversial U.N. treaty on arms regulation on Wednesday, a senior State Department official told Fox News — despite warnings from lawmakers that the Senate will not ratify the agreement.
A State official said the treaty would “reduce the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes,” while protecting gun rights.
“The treaty builds on decades of cooperative efforts to stem the international, illegal, and illicit trade in conventional weapons that benefits terrorists and rogue agents,” the official said.
U.S. lawmakers, though, have long claimed that the treaty could lead to new gun control measures. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., one of the most vocal opponents of the treaty, sent a letter to Kerry declaring it “dead in the water,” since a majority of senators has gone on record against the agreement.
“The administration is wasting precious time trying to sign away our laws to the global community and unelected U.N. bureaucrats,” he wrote. Kerry, who is in New York attending the U.N. General Assembly session, announced earlier this year that the administration planned to sign the treaty.
The treaty would require countries that ratify it to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms and components and to regulate arms brokers, but it will not explicitly control the domestic use of weapons in any country.
Still, gun-rights supporters on Capitol Hill warn the treaty could be used as the basis for additional gun regulations inside the U.S. and have threatened not to ratify. Over the summer, 130 members of Congress signed a letter to President Obama and Kerry urging them to reject the measure for this and other reasons.
The chance of adoption by the U.S. is slim. A two-thirds majority would be needed in the Senate to ratify.
What impact the treaty will have in curbing the estimated $60 billion global arms trade remains to be seen. The U.N. treaty will take effect after 50 countries ratify it, and a lot will depend on which ones ratify and which ones don’t, and how stringently it is implemented.
The Control Arms Coalition, which includes hundreds of non-governmental organizations in more than 100 countries that promoted an Arms Trade Treaty, has said it expects many of the world’s top arms exporters — including Britain, Germany and France — to sign alongside emerging exporters such as Brazil and Mexico. It said the United States is expected to sign later this year.
The coalition notes that more than 500,000 people are killed by armed violence every year and predicted that “history will be made” when many U.N. members sign the treaty, which it says is designed “to protect millions living in daily fear of armed violence and at risk of rape, assault, displacement and death.”
Many violence-wracked countries, including Congo and South Sudan, are also expected to sign. The coalition said their signature — and ratification — will make it more difficult for illicit arms to cross borders.
The treaty covers battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons.
It prohibits states that ratify it from transferring conventional weapons if they violate arms embargoes or if they promote acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. The treaty also prohibits the export of conventional arms if they could be used in attacks on civilians or civilian buildings such as schools and hospitals.
In addition, the treaty requires countries to take measures to prevent the diversion of conventional weapons to the illicit market. This is among the provisions that gun-rights supporters in Congress are concerned about. source – Fox News
Obama experiencing epic fail at G20 Summit in Russia
One interesting moment in what was largely seen as a weak press conference for President Obama Friday was this moment when the Nobel Peace Prize winner referred to the process of securing resolutions from the United Nations as “hocus pocus”:
You know, there would be some resolutions that were being proffered in the United Nations and the usual hocus pocus, but the world and the country would have moved on. So trying to impart a sense of urgency about this, why we can’t have an environment in which over time, people start thinking this we can get away with chemical weapons use–it’s a hard sell, but it’s something I believe in.
To see the leader of the Democrat Party be this dismissive of the United Nations in the run up to his rush to war in the Middle East has to be disconcerting to the House Democrats Obama will need to win congressional approval of his Syria strikes. source – Breitbart
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” Revelation 13:11
VATICAN CITY – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday hailed Pope Francis as “a spiritual leader of the world” and emphasized goals of social justice shared between the Vatican and the United Nations.
“It is very important to meet a spiritual leader of the world,” Ban said at the start of his meeting with the Argentine pope, who last month became the first non-European leader of the world’s Catholics in nearly 1,300 years.
“The Holy See and the UN share common goals and ideas,” said Ban—one of the first world leaders to be received at an audience by the new pontiff.
Francis has called for the Roman Catholic Church to be closer to ordinary people and help the needy, as well as to reach out to people of different religions and non-believers.
“We discussed the need to advance social justice and accelerate work to meet the Millenium Development Goals,” Ban said after the meeting.
The international community has undertaken to meet goals including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and reducing child mortality by 2015. ”Pope Francis is a man of peace and purpose. He is a voice for the voiceless,” he said.
Ban said he also invited the pope to visit the United Nations “at his earliest convenience.”
The UN leader also commented on the pope’s choice to name himself after St Francis of Assisi, saying this was “a powerful message for the many goals shared by the United Nations.”
“It speaks loudly of his commitment to the poor, his acute sense of humility, his passion and compassion to improve the human condition,” he said. Ban gave the pope a large book with the Charter of the United Nations in six languages. The pope, who only spoke in Italian, gave Ban a mosaic of Rome. source – GMA News
The United Nations says Israel must withdraw all of its citizens from the regions of Judea and Samaria. The recommendation came in a report issued Thursday by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which has a history of passing numerous biased resolutions condemning Israel for various alleged “crimes” each year.
“Israel must, in compliance with Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions,” the report said in part. “It must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Israel”s Foreign Ministry responded in a fiery statement immediately to the report, which claimed that Jewish settlement activity only “hampers peace efforts.”
In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, “The Human Rights Council has sadly distinguished itself by its systemically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel.
“This latest report is yet another reminder of that,” he added.
At least half a million Israelis live in Judea, Samaria and areas of Jerusalem restored to the capital during the 1967 Six Day War. source – Arutz Sheva
The watchmen sound the alarm but the people won’t hear
The bible says that in the last days, the end times church would not be on fire for the Lord, but rich, increased with goods, and very self-satisfied. It would be the church of Laodicea, whose ears have grown cold and dead, and whose heart has waxed gross. This is the current state of the professing Christian church.
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15,16
If you would have done a story like this 20 years ago, every, single prophecy person in America would be rushing to write their next book on the One World Government. There would be a huge outcry and protests in the streets. But in 2013 you will hear none of that. Most Christians don’t know bible prophecy, and neither do they care to take the time to “study to show thyself approved unto God”.
We are asleep at the wheel as the world prepares to go dark.
From WashPost: UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations, looking to modernize its peacekeeping operations, is planning for the first time to deploy a fleet of its own surveillance drones in missions in Central and West Africa.
The U.N. Department of Peacekeeping has notified Congo, Rwanda and Uganda that it intends to deploy a unit of at least three unarmed surveillance drones in the eastern region of Congo.
The action is the first step in a broader bid to integrate unmanned aerial surveillance systems, which have become a standard feature of Western military operations, into the United Nations’ far-flung peacekeeping empire.
But the effort is encountering resistance from governments, particularly those from the developing world, that fear the drones will open up a new intelligence-gathering front dominated by Western powers and potentially supplant the legions of African and Asian peacekeepers who now act as the United Nations’ eyes and ears on the ground.
“Africa must not become a laboratory for intelligence devices from overseas,” said Olivier Nduhungirehe, a Rwandan diplomat at the United Nations. “We don’t know whether these drones are going to be used to gather intelligence from Kigali, Kampala, Bujumbura or the entire region.”
Developing countries fear Western control over intelligence gathered by the drones. Some of those concerns are rooted in the 1990s, when the United States and other major powers infiltrated the U.N. weapons inspection agency to surreptitiously collect intelligence on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s military.
The growing American use of drones in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere to identify and kill suspected terrorists has only heightened anxieties about their deployment as part of multilateral peacekeeping missions.
U.N. officials have sought to allay the suspicions, saying there is no intention to arm the drones or to spy on countries that have not consented to their use.
The U.N. drones would have a range of about 150 miles and can hover for up to 12 hours at a time. They would be equipped with infrared technology that can detect troops hidden beneath forest canopy or operating at night, allowing them to track movements of armed militias, assist patrols heading into hostile territory and document atrocities.
“These are really just flying cameras,” said one U.N. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. “Our best method of protection is early warning. We recently had a patrol ambushed in Darfur. If you had a drone ahead of the patrol, it could have seen the ambush party.”
“If you know armed groups are moving in attack or battle formation early enough, you can warn civilians,” the official added.
The United Nations, which manages a force of more than 100,000 blue helmets in 15 peacekeeping missions, views drones as a low-cost alternative to expensive helicopters for surveillance operations.
Along with the pending deployments in the Congo, the organization has ordered a feasibility study into their use in Ivory Coast. U.N. military planners say they see a need for drones in many other missions, including Darfur, Sudan and South Sudan, where the United Nations monitors tensions along the border of the two countries. But they acknowledged that they have little hope that Sudan would permit them.
The United Nations has previously turned to the United States and other governments to provide with over-flight imagery. Rolf Ekeus, the former Swedish chief of the U.N. Special Commission in Iraq, persuaded the United States to loan the United Nations U-2 spy planes to monitor Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program in the 1990s.
More recently, Ireland, France and Belgium supplied unmanned aircraft to U.N.-backed, European-led missions in Chad, Lebanon and the Congo, and Belgium sent four drones to the Congo to help provide security for presidential and legislative elections. Two days before the 2006 election, one of the drones crashed, killing one woman and injuring two in Kinshasa, the capital.
Interest in drone technology has picked up among U.N. humanitarian and relief agencies. Last February, the U.N. Institute for Training and Research deployed the United Nations’ first drone in Port-au Prince, Haiti, to survey earthquake damage and help coordinate recovery efforts.
The use of drones in peacekeeping missions has proved more sensitive.
Pakistan’s U.N. ambassador, Masood Khan, recently told reporters that member states understand the importance of surveillance in ensuring the safety of peacekeepers. But he said there are differing views over the appropriateness of deploying drones.
Others say the dispute centers on questions about who would have access to the images and intelligence collected by the drones and whether the next step would be arming them.
To address such questions, the U.N. special committee on peacekeeping operations, which is made up of more than 140 countries, has asked the secretary general to assess the effect of drones and other modern technology on peace missions.
Herve Ladsous, the U.N. undersecretary general for peacekeeping, asked the Security Council in a closed door meeting Tuesday to support his plan for drones in Congo.
The United States, Britain, France and other Western members of the council backed the proposal, saying the United Nations needs to modernize its peacekeeping role. But China, Russia, Rwanda, Pakistan and Guatemala voiced concern, setting the stage for a contentious debate over the U.N. plan. Rwanda’s U.N. ambassador, Eugène-Richard Gasana, told the council that the U.N.’s introduction of drones carries the risk of transforming the peacekeeping mission into a belligerent force, according to a council diplomat.
But Richard Gowan, an expert on U.N. peacekeeping at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, said much of the resistance is driven by fear that drones would replace the legions of U.N. peacekeepers.
“This really boils down to a concern from the troop contributors that they are going to be sidelined. A drone is a cheaper and more efficient alternative to an infantry patrol,” said Gowan. “I think, very frankly, that a number of the large African and Asian troops contributors are worried that if the United Nations gets involved in high-tech operations like this, that their personnel will be made redundant.” source – Washington Post