UN Week/Social Good Summit

Well, the week is nearly upon us. Independent journalists, bloggers, NGOs and others in social media will be converging on Manhattan within a few hours to begin covering the UN’s Millennium Development Goals summit and the General Assembly.

We are going to have the chance to report on global issues that can have a very local impact all the while coming together with a diverse group of writers, journalists, and social activists. We’ll be gathering at the Digital Media Lounge, sponsored by the UN Foundation, Mashable.com and 92Y.

Don’t get me wrong, the UN has let us down on some issues, most notably recently, in its seemingly slow response in taking actions on the findings of the Goldstone Report, which it commissioned to investigate Israel’s attack on Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009. More than 1,400 Palestinians – including at least 355 children – died during the assault. Many in the global community applauded the report’s findings that Israel may be guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity for violating international law by targeting civilians, using them as human shields, the improper use of white phosphorus and for unleashing collective punishment against a  civilian population. But the praise turned to bitter disappointment when politics, namely pressure from Israel and the United States, trumped human rights and the report languished on the back burner.

This week, the UN Human Rights Council will be listening to a panel of experts who have assessed the progress by both Israel and Palestinians toward addressing key findings of the Goldstone commission, according to Ma’an News Agency.

The human rights group Amnesty International has slammed the “absence of accountability” one year after the Goldstone Report findings were released, Ma’an said.

Amnesty believes the council must also consider whether the time has come to seek an international justice solution especially if, as inevitable according to Amnesty’s own assessment of the investigations, the Committee of Experts reports that neither of the two sides has conducted adequate investigations or taken steps to ensure justice and accountability for crimes their forces committed.

To be sure, we need to keep the spotlight on the Goldstone Report and on the United Nations. Accountability ensures forward progress. We need to acknowledge that the UN Foundation’s function is essentially as the PR arm of the United Nations – the bridge between the public and the diplomats and global policies.

But none of this should preclude us from participating in UN Week in whatever way possible from wherever we are. That’s because real change and real hope for the future of our planet will come from the grassroots level from all corners of this earth.

If you are outside of New York, you can still watch live by video streaming. You can read my post from the other day about International Volunteer Day and the World Volunteer Web and find a way to get involved. You can donate to organizations that are working for human rights and social justice such as my organization, the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).

For those who want to learn more, here are some links provided by the UN Week Digital Media Lounge, sponsored by the UN Foundation, Mashable.com and 92Y.

Social Good Summit

UN Week Digital Media Lounge

Watch it all Live!

Everything  you need to know about Millennium Development Goals and how to help

Empowering girls

mHealth Alliance

Malaria movement

US-UN relationship

US Millennium Campaign

Throughout the week, I will be reporting from the UN and the Digital Media Lounge. Look for my posts here, on Facebook and Twitter as well as at American Muslims for Palestine, www.ampalestine.org.

~ Kristin Szremski, 09/19/2010

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