August 2007

Weblog nr 42
August 29, 2007

I had written my previous web log quite a number of months ago, in February this year. Since then I have stayed silent, for two reasons. All my web logs were focused on the situation in Sudan. I had been able to write as an insider, rather than a commentator at the side line. Since I had to leave the country and stepped down as Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN in Sudan I am no longer an insider, neither with regard to Sudan itself, nor concerning the deliberations within UN Headquarters. So, anything I would say about developments in Sudan would be the opinion of an expert outsider, nothing more, nothing less. There are many of these experts already, writing about Sudan. I have hesitated whether I should add my voice. The second reason to refrain from continuing my blog was that I wanted to take some distance.  My writings about Sudan and the UN should not be coloured by my own political experiences towards the end of my tenure.

I have decided to resume this web log. I intend to write about international affairs, development, climate change and environmental pollution, poverty, conflict, peace, human rights, refugees, globalisation, the UN, Sudan and related subjects. Before taking up my position as head of the UN peace keeping mission in Sudan I had been lecturing on these issues at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, where I had a Chair in the theory and practice of international development.  Those had been my main issues of concern as a politician in my own country. During the last couple of months, since my return to the Netherlands, I have taken up my position at the institute again. This has resulted, amongst others, in a number of articles, papers and speeches. Some of these can be found on this web site. I will continue to do so. In addition I intend to briefly reflect on a wide range of subjects in my blog. I will not refrain from writing about Sudan, but in a different capacity and less frequent.

Recent decisions of the Security Council concerning Sudan offer a new perspective. The Security Council has decided to send a hybrid peace keeping force, together with the African Union. I have doubts concerning the mandate given to the force. It is weaker than desirable. However, the decision is a new political fact and that in itself may help breaking the stalemate which arose after the signing of the Abuja peace agreement in May 2006. So, all efforts should be made to bring the force to Sudan as soon as possible and to make it possible for the UN and the AU on the ground to interpret the mandate in a pro-active and robust manner. The new political momentum should not be lost.

I will also write about political developments in The Netherlands. Last week I have decided to run for a political position in my country: the chairmanship of the Labour Party. The election has been scheduled at the end of September, following a brief campaign. I have decided to start a second blog, in Dutch, on this same web site. The first blog in Dutch goes together with this one.