November 2012

43rd plenary meeting of the General Assembly67th session: Question of Palestine

Palestinians Cheer New Status at the United Nations

The General Assembly voted to elevate the Palestinian territories‘ status at the United Nations to nonmember observer state from nonmember observer entity, which it has held since 1974. The vote, occurring late afternoon on Nov. 29 in a packed Assembly Hall, was preceded by several speeches, including one by Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of the …

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Vandana Devi and Gulabi Bahadur, two elected women representatives from Jhabua district in Madhya Pradesh listen to UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet speak during the National Leadership Summit in Jaipur, India on 4 October 2012.

A Place for Women at the Table

  A dozen years have passed since the United Nations Security Council made history by adopting a resolution that addressed women’s rights during conflicts and required their participation in preventing wars and in peace talks. Until Resolution 1325was approved, post-conflict reconstruction had been mostly the realm of those possessing the Y chromosome in the eyes …

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Monusco, UN peacekeepers in Congo

A Rerun of History in Eastern Congo Threatens Kinshasa Again

Less than two decades ago, this is what happened to a huge African country once known as Zaire: Rebels backed by Rwanda’s recently installed, ethnic Tutsi-led government moved out of their strongholds in the eastern flank of the country and advanced toward the Zairian national capital, Kinshasa, and overthrew the central government. To Rwandan Tutsi, …

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Sierra Leone polling station on Election Day, Nov. 17, 2012

Sierra Leone’s Election, Proving the Nation’s Resilience

Sierra Leone re-elected Ernest Bai Koroma president against eight other candidates in a calm, orderly vote held on Nov. 17 with results announced Nov. 23, after ballots were counted. The election marks an important step for the country to continue its healing after suffering an 11-year civil war. Koroma, who garnered 58.7 percent of the vote, is …

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Master of Science in Humanitarian Studies at Fordham University
Jean-Marie Gguehenno of Columbia University

The Syrian War, Picked Apart by a Diplomat Who Knows

The new creation of a national Syrian coalition to make the opposition groups more coherent could propel a much-needed breakthrough in the country’s 20-month civil war, Jean-Marie Guéhenno a professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, told an audience there on Nov. 13. It has been a costly affair humanitarian-wise: close to 40,000 …

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Texas Moratorium Network

The Last Throes of the Death Penalty?

Mores in societies change over the years. While slavery, torture and public executions were once a global phenomenon, and foot binding and deadly duels were deeply entrenched aspects of regional cultures, they are no longer considered acceptable by the international community. In line with what the United States Supreme Court once called “evolving standards of …

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Flood in Congotown, Liberia

The New Normal? Severe Weather Battering Cities

  Latin America and the Caribbean have always faced the threat of hurricane intensely, but with new weather extremes related to climate change occurring amid growing urban populations, the lethal mix is bound to cause more damage and deaths every year. Urban planners are not even close to being prepared. Consider the recent havoc that …

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GA votes on Human Rights Council members

New Human Rights Council Members, Some Already Sullied

Eighteen members were elected by the United Nations General Assembly to the Human Rights Council on Nov. 12. The members, serving three-year terms beginning Jan. 1, join 29 other countries on the council. Of the 18 new members, only the United States was seeking a second term. The other states chosen were Argentina, Brazil, Estonia, …

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Master of Science in Humanitarian Studies at Fordham University
Wole Soyinka, author of "Of Africa"

From Wole Soyinka: A Manifesto for Africa

The Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka, winner of Africa’s first Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, has published a new book calling for urgent action by Africans to save themselves from the threat of Islamic extremism, against which corrupt regimes seem unable protect the tolerance and spiritual strength of traditional cultures. “If Africa falls to the …

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UN System Staff College, Turin

The UN’s ‘College’ in Turin

Turin is a delightfully walkable city on the River Po, with distinctive arcades along wide boulevards, grand squares, lovely parks, good restaurants and a comfortable pace of life. I had the good fortune to visit Turin with Kofi Annan in 1997, his first year as United Nations secretary-general. He came to inspect a project called …

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Minustah in Haiti peacekeepers

Reasons to Love and Criticize the UN

In his new book, “Living With the UN: American Responsibilities and International Order,” Kenneth Anderson forces readers who lean sympathetically toward the United Nations to consider why they support it despite its faults. On the other hand, the acerbic views of Anderson, a law professor at American University, about the UN are deeply colored by his …

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UN General Assembly elects nonpermanent Security Council members

Five New Security Council Members, Many New Agendas

As the five newly elected United Nations Security Council members prep for their seats, what will their work look like when they take office Jan. 1 for two years? It’s impossible to predict how the winners – Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea and Rwanda – will fill their nonpermanent seats among Britain, China, France, Russia …

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Master of Science in Humanitarian Studies at Fordham University
Eyes on Rights campaign

The UN Arms Trade Treaty Must Survive

Nobody ever believed that establishing an international Arms Trade Treaty would be uncomplicated. Discussions taking place this month will determine the treaty’s future through a vote in the United Nations General Assembly next week. The treaty’s draft text was nearly adopted in July by UN member states, but those talks came to an abrupt halt …

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