Two Faces of Burma Coming to New York

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader, leaves Westminster Hall.

It may have been a coincidence or maybe not. When the 67th United Nations General Assembly session opens in New York in mid-September, the president of Burma, Thein Sein, is expected to speak in what is still called, quaintly, the “general debate.” At almost the same time, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize … Read more

GOINGS-ON

Ban Ki-moon’s New Team Earning Positive Reviews

Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, new head of public information at the UN

When leaders of the world start descending on the United Nations in September for the opening of a new General Assembly session, there will two new internationally well-known figures in prominent positions at the top of the organization. In July, Jan Eliasson of Sweden became the UN’s deputy secretary-general, and in mid-August, Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal of … Read more

 

It’s O.K. to Talk About Birth Control Again

Melinda Gates

Every once in a while an event takes place in relative obscurity that nonetheless holds the potential to change the world. That is not a small statement, but it may prove applicable in coming years to the family planning summit in London on July 11. Dozens of governments, United Nations agencies, foundations, research institutions, the … Read more

Promoting Women Starts Early, in First Grade

Women marching and chanting for an antislavery protest in Nouakchott, Mauritania's capital, on May 26, 2012. JOE PENNEY

With only three years left to reach an ambitious global deadline, tracking the eight Millennium Development Goals often seems like going around in circles. Perhaps no goal is better evidence of this than Goal 3: promote gender equality and empower women. So often does the empowerment of women, in one way or another, figure in … Read more

New World Bank Leader Backs Anticorruption Campaign

Jim Yong Kim, new World Bank president.

On his first day in office on July 2, the new World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, placed himself firmly in the footsteps of his predecessor. He announced that he was backing two recent decisions in the bank to halt the organization’s involvement in projects in Bangladesh and East Africa because of documented corruption. A … Read more

Schools Fail the Youngest Where Population Grows the Fastest

Congolese children in an unfinished classroom at a primary school near the Kahe refugee camp in Goma, North Kivu Province.

Optimists in many developing countries are convinced that their expanding youth populations will be engines of economic growth in coming decades. They call this the “demographic dividend.” Social scientists and demographers in those same nations, however, are usually more wary of the future, as they focus on how those children, on whom so much hope … Read more

 

A New Leader, Defying the African Union, Bans Bashir of Sudan

Malawi president

The African Union, whose members decided three years ago not to honor an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has been forced to find a new site for its regional summit in July after the small southern African nation of Malawi said it would refuse entry to the Sudanese leader. Bashir is wanted … Read more

Rights Violations Tarnish Democracy in South Asia

Cooks at the Tharanikulam Ganesh School in Vavunya, Sri Lanka

The mind-numbing daily reports of death and destruction in Afghanistan and Pakistan obscure a larger issue: the prevalence of political and ethnic violence across South Asia, a region dominated by India that includes Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Bhutan. Recently, the publication of two annual global reports on human rights – from the … Read more

Five Countries Hold Back Success at Meeting Child Mortality Goal

Nepal Mother

  As the annual stocktaking on the progress of the Millennium Development Goals begins ahead of the next General Assembly session, there has been good news about the reduction in deaths of infants and children under age 5. But bright spots on the global map are not enough to ensure that Goal 4 can be … Read more

A Top Economist Faults UNDP for Outmoded Policies

UNDP literacy program

In a broadside against the United Nations Development Program, Jagdish Bhagwati, professor of economics at Columbia University and an adviser to the government of India and numerous international bodies, argues that the UN’s premier agency has declined in staff quality as it clings to outdated policies that actually harm poor countries. At the heart of … Read more

 

Native Americans Still Suffer ‘Profound Hurt,’ the UN Says

apache dancers

The relationship between the United States government and the United Nations machinery of human rights reporting has been a troubled one. Over the years, numerous UN rights monitors – called rapporteurs — have often been unwelcome visitors, sometimes refused permission to visit institutions like prisons or courts in some American states. The reception got a … Read more

Nagging Hunger Undermines Millennium Poverty Goal

eradicating hunger

The first of the eight Millennium Development Goals makes an ambitious demand: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger worldwide. It is now widely accepted that progress has been made in many countries on cutting the percentage of people living with less than the rock-bottom $1.25 a day. But decreasing hunger by half is another sadder story. … Read more

The Spotlight Returns to Family Planning

Women's Senegalese soccer team

Almost two decades have passed since a groundbreaking global conference on population and development in Cairo declared that women had the right, alone or with a partner, to make decisions about the number of children they wanted. Nearly 20 years is long enough for a 14-year-old girl – in a rural Ethiopian village, a vast … Read more

Scrutinizing Millennium Goal Claims as 2015 Looms

MDG water

In early March, a report from Unicef and the World Health Organization proclaimed proudly that the world had not only met but also surpassed the Millennium Development Goals target of reducing by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water. The agencies said that 89 percent of the global population — that’s … Read more

 

‘Americans for UNFPA’ Gets a New Name

Americans for UNFPA

To reflect its growing global reach, the independent citizen-support group in the United States for the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, has changed its name from Americans for UNFPA to Friends of UNFPA. The group is one of numerous public American organizations supporting a range of UN agencies. The Population Fund is the world’s largest … Read more

Treaty to Protect UN Staff Falls Far Short of Backers

UN envoy for Ivory Coast

In 1994, after deadly civil wars began to pose extreme dangers to both peacekeepers and humanitarian staff members working around the world, the United Nations adopted the 1994 Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel, which made nations where UN troops and other missions are based responsible for their safety. An additional protocol … Read more

BOOKS

The Ultimate War Crimes Expert, Back in the Game

Kaing Guek Eav at the Cambodia Tribunal

No American diplomat or scholar of international law has been more deeply involved than David Scheffer in the creation of virtually every war crimes court from the catastrophic implosion of Yugoslavia to the long-overdue reckoning for the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Now, in a new book, “All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the … Read more

GOINGS-ON

Annan Assembles a Veteran Team for Syria

Guehenno

Kofi Annan, with the Security Council now fully behind his mediation mission in Syria, has gathered a group of experienced former United Nations officials and diplomats to work with him as he seeks the end of hostilities and, ultimately, a political settlement in Damascus. The latest addition to the former secretary-general’s team is Jean-Marie Guéhenno, … Read more

 

UN Leaders Call for a Global Review of Women’s Rights

women's conference

In an unusual joint call for action, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the president of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar, are asking United Nations members to convene a world conference on women in 2015, the 20th anniversary of the path-breaking meeting in Beijing that broadly defined women’s rights and proposed actions to further … Read more

Don’t Women Travel, Too?

anna cooper

On the eve of the current session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Cora Weiss received her new United States passport. Weiss, president of the Hague Appeal for Peace, is well known around the United Nations as a strong supporter of women’s rights — and a globetrotter. Flipping through her 52-page passport (she … Read more

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