This Week in the World of Conflict… June 20th- 26th, 2011

• Monday marked World Refugee Day, the 60th anniversary of the creation of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The UNHCR released its annual report on the state of the world’s refugees to coincide with this day. An estimated 80% of the world’s refugees now live in developing countries and yet anti-refugee sentiment is growing in industrialized nations.
• ActionAid released a new report entitled “A Second Global Food Crisis” highlighting the most recent statistics on food production, prices and world hunger. Anti-hunger group ActionAid warned G20 ministers that the world is one bad harvest from a recurrence of the 2008 food crisis and urged Agriculture Ministers meeting in Paris to take urgent action to stabilize food prices and mobilize a system of regional food reserves to help buffer the worst hit. On Thursday, G20 farm ministers agreed to tackle high food prices in a deal that steered clear of divisive talks on issues such as regulation, but agreed to exclude humanitarian aid from export bans, explore food aid stocks and launch a database to improve market transparency. On Sunday, Brazil’s Jose Graziano da Silva was elected head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
• Military researchers are working on shrinking unmanned drones to the size of insects and birds, so that they can “hide in plain sight”. The micro-drones are designed to carry out espionage or kill.
• Foreign Policy magazine issued its annual list of failed states on Monday. African countries made up 7 of the top 10 with Somalia listed as the worst of all failed states. Afghanistan came in at 7th worst, with Iraq at 9th.
• The UN nuclear chief proposed international safety checks on reactors worldwide on Monday, to help prevent any repeat of the Fukushima crisis. At a five-day meeting, IAEA member states will begin charting a strategy on boosting global nuclear safety. Currently there are no mandatory international safety regulations, only recommendations, which national regulators are in charge of enforcing. The UN agency conducts review missions only with member state’s invitation. A leading expert said that global action to protect the nuclear industry against possible terrorist attacks is urgently needed and that some countries had “extraordinarily weak security measures in place” to deal with such attacks.
• June 26th was the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Torture violates the dignity of the human being and I would like to give thanks to those organizations that provide relief and assistance to those who have experienced this horror.
• The UN Foundation’s board of directors met in Norway this week for a series of meetings on how governments, non-profits and the corporate sector can advance goals related to economic development, climate change and women’s and children’s health. The power packed meeting includes Ted Turner, Kofi Annan, Norway PM Brundtland, and numerous others leaders from Jordan, Russia, Japan, the UK, Pakistan, China, and Bangladesh, among others.
• Ban Ki-moon has won a second-term as the UN Secretary General after a vote in the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. Ban’s second term will formally begin on January 1st, 2012.
• NATO announced on Thursday that one of its websites was the subject of a probable data breach by hackers, but that it did not contain any classified data. The hacking group Lulz Security announced that it was disbanding, giving no reason for its decision.

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