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Newsfile: August 2010

Newsfile aggregates news that might otherwise drop off the horizon about situations affecting humanitarian work and the international situation. It doesn't chase after the most immediate stories which other newsfeeds can offer. Latest items from each region are presented first. To comply with fair-use rules we give only a headline, or enough of the story to explain the headline. All the stories cited are fully detailed. Dollars are U.S. unless stated otherwise.


UN Geneva

Race committee chair says 2010 session 'one of the most intense and rewarding'

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concluded its 77th session on 27 August 2010. Chairperson Anwar Kemal decribed the meeting as "one of the most intense and rewarding sessions" since he had become a member.

The Council has taken the welcome step of providing unedited versions of its resolutions in order to make public its comments immediately. The conclusions and submissions relating to 11 countries -- including Australia, France and Iran are available online in doc or PDF format.

It is a pity the webpage is not linked to the overview, or that the fully detailed summaries of discussion are not tied to the round-up, either.

Presumably the argument against linking the webpage to the summaries is that these are unofficial, but it is a pity, when the Rights Division offers so much useful material online.

Another recommendation: the U.N. should change its document numbering system to one that is Web-friendly: most naming systems do not allow the / separator used to identify U.N. papers. An underscore might do it, i.e. CERD10_023E_iran instead of CERD10/023E (shared with other English summaries).

For a less glowing comment on the Council's 77th session, see Romas to the rescue.

UNOG:CERD10/030E 27 August 2010


Website offers smart app to rate products 'green' score from barcode offers a free smartphone app to swipe a product's bar code then learn about its environmental and social impact, aggregating information from over 200 databases, reports UNEP partner Climate Action.

The site covers a huge range of household items. For example, two Safeway products rate among the worst dishwashers, while Palmolive rates around 5.5 (and its gold deodorant soap scores 6.9 on the green scale). Palmolive brands receive only 3.5 on the health score, however. The highest rated soap alternative scores 8.9 (Dr Bronner's 18-in-1). The best dishwasher is Seventh Generation's (scoring 8.9 and none of its products cause health concerns).

Sounds like a good site for all U.N. procurement offices, but yes it is very American.

Climate Action 24 August 2010.


Swiss oil trader taps ex-UNDP boss for Africa contacts

Swiss energy trader Vitol has hired a former British government minister and once-head of UNDP, Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, in a consultancy role.

“Lord Malloch-Brown provides consulting services on geo-political issues of importance to the Vitol Group, including current and potential future business in Africa,” the firm said in a statement emailed to Swisster.

Malloch-Brown denies any previous dealings with Vitol as a politician. “In my time at the UN, I was never in contact with the Vitol Group,” he said. “Nor did I have any dealings with Vitol as a British minister.”

At the UN he worked on the oil-for-food programme that sent consumables to Iraq instead of cash to the state. In 2007, Vitol was fined 19 million francs by a New York court for providing kickbacks to the Iraqi regime. Malloch-Brown said before accepting the Vitol appointment he ensured that the company had made changes to its policies.

Swisster 2 August 2010


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