WORLDVIEWS

Can Germany Mediate the Big-Power Divide in the UN Security Council?

BERLIN — At the start of Germany’s sixth two-year term in the United Nations Security Council, the media attention in Germany is unusually high: numerous journalists on TV and radio are asking diplomats, politicians and foreign policy experts about their views on Germany’s role in the Council, as well as its goals and prospects for … Read more

BOOKS

The UN Is Complicated, So Here is a Dictionary to Help Figure It Out

To provide readers who want information about the United Nations that is intelligent and concise yet comprehensive is a challenging task for every author: he or she must outline a puzzling system of principal organs, specialized agencies, programs, funds, commissions and committees that produces large piles of resolutions, declarations and conventions on topics such as … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Germany Gets What’s Fair: Some Top UN Jobs

BERLIN — It is a widely held view in political circles here that Germany has not been adequately represented in the United Nations, apart from its relatively frequent elected membership to the Security Council, which Germany has held five times and which last year announced its candidacy for a sixth term for 2019-2020. To be more … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

UN Depository Libraries Are Facing Severe Problems

BERLIN — Since 1946, the United Nations Depository Library Program — consisting now of more than 360 depository libraries in more than 130 countries — has provided scholars, journalists, politicians, diplomats and the broader public with access to what is called the “UN deposit.” That is, print copies of UN documents (official texts of the … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

How the UN Public Information Office Works

BERLIN — From the beginning, the member states of the United Nations understood the great significance of efficient communication: in resolution 13(I) of Feb. 13, 1946, the General Assembly established the Department of Public Information in the Secretariat and emphasized: “The United Nations cannot achieve the purposes for which it has been created unless the … Read more

BOOKS

UN Peacekeeping: A Portrait of More Than 50 Years

For many people in the world, the United Nations is often associated with peacekeeping, one of the most visible activities of the world body in its efforts to maintain international peace and security. Peacekeeping was created in the late 1940s and developed over decades into an ambitious instrument to contain severe political and military conflicts, … Read more

BOOKS

What Can Save Unesco? Advice From an Insider

Founded in 1946 with noble goals, namely “to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture,” the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has in fact achieved considerable progress, above all in assisting its member nations in providing quality basic education for children, youth and … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Ban Ki-moon’s Travels: Escape Hatch or Act of Diplomacy?

BERLIN — If you take a close look at the public schedule of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, it becomes evident that he travels a lot to member states, even more than his charismatic and most active predecessor Kofi Annan. Why does Ban travel so often? Some critics suggest that Ban wants to distract public … Read more

BOOKS

New Development Goals: Can the UN Machinery Cope?

The United Nations is now discussing in a broad consultation process the sustainable development goals: a new universal set of ambitions for economic and social development, made up of targets and indicators that all countries are expected to use to frame their agendas and policies from 2015 to 2030, to be adopted by the General … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The UN Environment Program, Influential but Lacking Power

BERLIN — The history of the United Nations Environment Program is illustrative in two respects: it reflects the changing importance of environmental issues within the UN system and it demonstrates that dedicated people in a UN organization can master the difficult task of implementing an ambitious mandate without sufficient political status, funds and personnel and … Read more

BOOKS

Shedding Light on the Intricacies of the Security Council

The Security Council is the most important political body of the United Nations. If you con­sider the council uncommunicative and dominated by the great powers, and if you search for ways to improve its democratic qualities without amending the UN Charter, you have to look at the rules of procedure of the council and how … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The World Trade Organization: Seeking a Fair Balance of Interests

WTO conference in Bali 2013

Working most of the time, far away from the attention of the world public, an international organization was recently in the limelight: the World Trade Organization. After lengthy negotiations on liberalization measures in world trade, which started in 2001 and dragged on because of considerable differences of opinion between the developed and the developing countries, … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Far-Reaching Changes Remake the UN Food and Agriculture Organization

An olive oil plant in Tunisia

  BERLIN — The fight against hunger became a primary goal of the United Nations system early on. In 1943, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened an international conference that reached agreement on the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization, and two years later, on Oct. 16, 1945, only days before the founding … Read more

BOOKS

Regional Organizations Remain Vital to the UN

Alicia Barcena of ECLAC and Jan Eliasson of the UN

Formed as a “club” of nation states, the United Nations took some time to find out that cooperation with regional organizations might be of some use in improving social and economic living conditions as well as maintaining international peace and security and safeguarding the enjoyment of human rights. It was not before the economic crisis … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The True Strengths of the WHO

WHO cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone

BERLIN — The foundation of the World Health Organization in 1948 as one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations was a milestone in the history of global health efforts. It established not only the “highest attainable standard of health” for all people as a primary goal in the WHO constitution, but it also … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Germany’s ‘Added Value’ to the Security Council

Peter Wittig, German ambassador to the UN

  BERLIN — When Germany began its two-year tenure in 2011 as a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council, its diplomats promised to hold a debate on climate change and to improve the protection of children in armed conflict, to name just the top items on their list. Now in December 2012, with … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Close Cooperation Is Useful Between the General Assembly and Security Council

Nassir Abdulaziz Al Nasser of Qatar, the outgoing General Assembly president.

BERLIN — If you ask people on the street which United Nations organ has more influence, the Security Council or the General Assembly, they will most probably answer: “The Security Council,” since it has the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security and is the only UN organ that can issue legally binding decisions … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

What the General Assembly Wants From the Secretary-General

General Assembly president and Ban Ki-moon

BERLIN — When the United Nations has been fortunate to have a secretary-general who has great charisma and skills in settling conflicts, the world tends to consider him a figure with his own political status and powers. People like this idea because in difficult times they want to have an authoritative mediator, a moral guide. … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Five Lightweights Fight to Reform the Security Council

UN General Assembly

BERLIN — It is a story of political courage and steadfastness: After it had become obvious that the 2005 World Summit had not brought any progress in the reform of the Security Council regarding its composition of permanent and nonpermanent members, a group of five small countries, in short Small Five or S-5 — Costa … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

General Assembly President: A Hardly Noticed, Yet Crucial Job

Jean Ping of Gabon

BERLIN — This United Nations top official is unknown to the broad public, yet he or she provides an important function: the president of the General Assembly. Most presidents have carried out the job inconspicuously and routinely, but a few presidents, the present one included, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar, have revealed stamina and political … Read more

 

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