- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 4, 2007

More appointments

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed former U.N. political chief Ibrahim Gambari on Friday to be his special adviser on the Internal Compact with Iraq, a headquarters-based job that will put him in close touch with the U.S. Treasury and State departments.

Mr. Gambari, a Nigerian foreign minister, was undersecretary-general for political affairs for the past two years and handled everything from the Middle East to Burma’s political repression. He likely will remain active on those portfolios.

The popular appointee of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan was not expected to keep his job, which went to career U.S. foreign service officer B. Lynn Pascoe, nor was he expected to leave the United Nations.

On the Iraq Compact, a U.S.-initiated effort to win foreign funds and technical support for Iraq’s struggling government, Mr. Gambari will succeed Mark Malloch Brown “to ensure coordinated support from the United Nations system to the implementation of commitments made, through the Compact, toward a peaceful, secure and prosperous Iraq,” said Michele Montas, a spokeswoman appointed by Mr. Ban. A journalist from Haiti, she headed the French unit of U.N. Radio.

Mr. Pascoe, meanwhile, began his new job last week by getting acquainted with his staff and participating in meetings to discuss Mr. Ban’s coming trip to the Middle East. He also attended the farewell reception for Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store. It included a South African-hosted breakfast with Security Council ambassadors to discuss the March agenda.

Female leadership

Turns out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, is a trendsetter in women’s leadership roles. Mrs. Pelosi is one of a half-dozen women elected last year to head their national legislatures, including those in Turkmenistan, Israel and Gambia, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Female representation in senior levels of government has risen steadily over the past decade, and women now preside over a record 35 of 262 national lawmaking bodies. However, women are not gaining parliamentary seats as quickly or steadily as human rights and women’s groups had hoped, and parity with male leaders is still a long way off.

The IPU found that 23 countries used quota systems to raise female representation. In those countries, women won nearly twice as many seats, proportionately, as in countries without quotas: 22 percent to 12 percent, respectively.

Women hold 16 percent of seats in the U.S. Congress, compared with 35 percent in Canada and Rwanda, where women make up nearly half those national legislatures. Overall, European parliaments are 19 percent female, Asian parliaments are 16 percent, and Arab legislatures are 9 percent, according to the IPU.

Drug report issued

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), a quasi-independent body of the United Nations, issued its annual drug report last week and, as always, it is filled with fascinating tidbits about the endless human quest for a better life or a higher high.

It’s no surprise that drugs and their manufacturing are big money.

Afghan poppy farmers continue to resist substitute crops because nothing else will grow in the country’s inhospitable soil. The INCB “regrets” that poppy cultivation reached a record last year, and notes that opiate use is on the rise among Afghanistan’s young.

Around the world, pharmaceutical packaging and chemical compounds are counterfeited easily, the INCB warns, leading unsuspecting patients to rely on medications that range from substandard to deadly. This is true not only in rich countries but in poor ones, where significant portions of the populations lack health insurance or access to affordable treatment.

Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at bpisik@washingtontimes.com.

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