The 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing; the United States sanctions the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; dissecting the failed ambitions of the US effort to force the UN mission in Lebanon to be more aggressive.
Greetings from This Week @UN, our summary highlighting the most important news on the UN. The news is drawn from the UN spokesperson’s briefings, our original reporting and other sources.
You’re just two clicks away from PassBlue’s latest UN-Scripted podcast episode — featuring a wide-ranging interview with Ambassador Abdou Abarry of Niger’s mission to the UN. He describes what it means to be a diplomat from the Sahel region in West Africa and his country’s agenda for the Security Council presidency in September: busy, busy, busy.
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Monday, Aug. 31
• For nearly two years, an international group of 17 specialists on the finance frontier has been connecting digital technologies to new sources of money for the faltering Sustainable Development Goals. Now they have unveiled a plan on how to expand traditional pools of capital by attracting investments from even the smallest contributors through digitalization. The problem is, 3.6 billion people have limited to no access to such technology. Barbara Crossette’s latest dispatch on the status of SDGs in the pandemic.
• No UN spokesperson briefing was held. Secretary-General António Guterres, however, led a virtual town hall with “young women” from civil society groups in an event that had been scheduled for the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women in March but was postponed because of Covid-19. Noting the effects of the pandemic, Guterres said the virus has deepened inequalities, saying: “Already we are seeing a reversal in decades of limited and fragile progress on gender equality and women’s rights. And without a concerted response, we risk losing a generation or more of gains. Since the start, women have been on the frontlines of the response, as health care workers, teachers, essential staff and as careers in their families and communities. Between 70 and 90 percent of health care workers are women, but their salaries and conditions often fail to reflect the lifesaving roles they occupy.”
Tuesday, Sept. 1
• In her monthly Security Council Presidency column, Stéphanie Fillion interviews Niger’s ambassador to the UN, Abdou Abarry; and a West African expert from the Rand Corporation, Michael Shurkin. Abarry talks about his country’s goals and challenges in the Security Council: raising the issues of the volatile region of the Sahel as well as the showdown on Sept. 20 with the US and the Iran nuclear deal. Abarry also has a short tale to tell about a trip to Iceland. Featuring an audio interview with the ambassador, produced by Fillion and Kacie Candela.
• Spokesperson’s briefing: Guterres spoke to another crowd virtually, this time a meeting of Generation Unlimited, a global partnership focused on education, training and employment opportunities for young people. Guterres said that though his own generation has failed to remedy international challenges, “youth are leading the fight against inequality, discrimination and division, and for climate action, human rights, gender equality, and sustainable economies and societies.”
Wednesday, Sept. 2
• Spokesperson’s briefing: Responding to questions about the announcement by the US that it was sanctioning Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, and Phakiso Mochochoko, the head of the court’s Jurisdiction Complementarity and Cooperation Division, Stéphane Dujarric said that Guterres “notes with concern today’s statement.” He added: “Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Criminal Court is founded on their Relationship Agreement, which was approved by the General Assembly on September 2004. We will be analysing any possible implications that this development may have with respect to the implementation of this Relationship Agreement.”
Thursday, Sept. 3
• Karim Makdisi is a professor at the American University of Beirut and an expert on the UN mission in Lebanon, Unifil. In his detailed analysis for PassBlue, he describes how the US fought hard in August to drastically change the mandate of Unifil, acting on behalf of Israel. But after weeks of tense negotiations, mainly between the US and France, in the Security Council, the mission’s status quo remains for another year.
• Spokesperson’s briefing: An update by Deborah Lyons, the UN special envoy in Afghanistan, to the Security Council was blunt. As the US strives to broker a peace deal with the Afghan government and the Taliban, Lyons said: “This will be a long and challenging process. Already, the pre-talks phase has raised difficult issues related to prisoner releases, which have taken some time to resolve — actually, 5 months.” She added: “The level of violence on the battlefield remains deeply worrying. The last few weeks have seen near-record numbers of security incidents, including egregious attacks by spoilers targeting civilians involved in the peace process.”
Friday, Sept. 4
• Twenty-five years ago, the UN hosted the largest gathering of women in its 50-year history, writes Ellen Chesler, a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute in New York City and a visiting fellow at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Affairs at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Some 17,000 participants registered for the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, and Chesler was there. She recalls “the thrill of being part of that joyous, colorful assemblage” of women, including Hillary Clinton, the US first lady at the time, “confidently attired in a stylish pink jacket and skirt.” The women at the meeting “managed to achieve consensus among the 189 UN member countries on an unusually optimistic blueprint for change,” Chesler notes, asking, “So, where do we stand today?”
• No spokesperson’s briefing.
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Dulcie Leimbach is a co-founder of PassBlue. For PassBlue and other publications, she has reported from New York and overseas from West Africa (Burkina Faso and Mali) and from Europe (Scotland, Sicily, Vienna, Budapest, Kyiv, Armenia, Iceland and The Hague). She has provided commentary on the UN for BBC World Radio, ARD German TV and Radio, NHK’s English channel, Background Briefing with Ian Masters/KPFK Radio in Los Angeles and the Foreign Press Association.
Previously, she was an editor for the Coalition for the UN Convention Against Corruption; from 2008 to 2011, she was the publications director of the United Nations Association of the USA. Before UNA, Leimbach was an editor at The New York Times for more than 20 years, editing and writing for most sections of the paper, including the Magazine, Book Review and Op-Ed. She began her reporting career in small-town papers in San Diego, Calif., and near Boulder, Colo., graduating to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and then working in New York at The Times. Leimbach has been a fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies as well as at Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; taught news reporting at Hofstra University; and guest-lectured at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the CUNY Journalism School. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has an M.F.A. in writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.