BOOKS

Falling Flat in Syria: How Not to Fight Jihad

Sun Tzu’s classic work on the art of war advises would-be warriors to “know your enemy.” What were Western powers and the United Nations thinking when they first pondered ways to stop Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from beating, torturing, bombing and even gassing his own people after the first hesitant protests against his rigid rule? … Read more

BOOKS

The UN Security Council, Functioning Amid Disasters

There is no easy way to describe a book about the United Nations that is nearly 1,000 pages long, with dozens of authors, all experts in their fields. “The UN Security Council in the 21st Century” is that book, a collection of situation reports, analyses and prophesies published as the 70th anniversary year of the UN ended … 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

 

BOOKS

The Surprising Confessions of a Peacemaker

When war breaks out, you would think the easy answer would be to send in a United Nations peacekeeping mission, right? In fact, it is fairly rare and extraordinarily challenging to pull such a mission together. Even then, the mission can end up a flop, making little or no difference as the years crawl by. … Read more

BOOKS

What We’re Reading This Summer

Enjoying your summer but still looking for something good to read? There are lots of reading choices, of course, starting with all those backed up New Yorker magazines, McKinsey reports and NPR’s Summer Romance List. Or you can get a peek at what some of PassBlue’s editors and correspondents — Barbara Crossette, Irwin Arieff, Laura Kirkpatrick, … Read more

BOOKS

If Africa Is So Rich, Why Is It So Poor?

They call it the Curse of Riches. Although the African continent is blessed with gold, diamonds, oil, coltan, bauxite, uranium, iron ore and other valuable resources, its inhabitants have long numbered among the world’s poorest. While a few sub-Saharan African nations are doing relatively well, most are mired in poverty. That a continent’s abundant natural … 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

 

BOOKS

China in Africa: When Is a Win-Win Deal a Loser?

Chinese officials often describe their growing economic involvement in Africa as a “win-win” arrangement. As they see it, African nations gain investment and infrastructure, make progress toward development goals and benefit from the creation of jobs and other economic activity. China lands contracts for its state-owned enterprises, enhances its image as a global leader, generates … 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

BOOKS

Survivors of Gun Violence Push for More Help From Society

When we talk about gun violence, the focus is usually on the fatalities. There can be so much to discuss after someone is shot dead. But what about the wounded, who remain present in our lives and in our neighborhoods and require care long after the dead are taken off and buried? Governments, interest groups … Read more

BOOKS

Islamism and Politics: Going in Circles

It must be a drag to live in a strict Islamist regime: the legal system stems entirely from Islamic — sharia — law, in which adulterers are stoned to death, thieves have their hands chopped off, and the renunciation of Islam, or apostasy, is punishable by death. Liberal democracy? Gender equality and women’s rights? Forget … Read more

 

BOOKS

Lonely at the Top: What It’s Like to Be the UN Secretary-General

UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold

There have been eight secretaries-general of the United Nations in the 68 years since the first of them, Trygve Lie of Norway, took on this unique global position. All eight — all men — have been very different in character and personality, in their cultural and political backgrounds and in their views of how the … Read more

BOOKS

No Role for the UN in the Tragic Birth of Bangladesh

Liberation War Museum

There are few if any heroes among world leaders in the story of how the nation of Bangladesh emerged in 1971 bloodied, bruised and battered. Created by hurried British mapmakers in 1947 as the eastern wing of a bizarrely divided new nation of Muslim-majority Pakistan, Bangladesh was separated by 1,000 miles of largely Hindu India … Read more

BOOKS

Resource Wars: How Afraid Should We Be of China?

Xi Jinping of China

The United States and Japanese military held joint war games in California in February, practicing how to invade and take back an island seized by hostile forces. While they didn’t say whose forces they were worried about, the drill was one more sign of growing global fears that China’s People’s Liberation Army may soon grab … Read more

BOOKS

The New War on Drugs: Regulation From Cultivation to Consumption

Cocaine bales on USS Nicholas

The first day this year began with one of the most surprising achievements in the push against the prohibition of drugs in the United States. In Colorado, thousands of people bought cannabis legally after decades of harsh restrictive laws since the so-called war on drugs had been put in place in the 1980s by President … Read more

 

BOOKS

Just About Everyone Wanted Benazir Bhutto Dead

Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani prime minister who was killed by a teenage suicide bomber in 2008.

Why write a whodunit when you can’t say who done it? This is the challenging task undertaken by Heraldo Muñoz, a veteran Chilean diplomat and United Nations official, in his new book, “Getting Away With Murder: Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination and the Politics of Pakistan.” In 2009, the UN asked Muñoz to head an investigation into … Read more

BOOKS

Defending Women’s Rights Against Muslim Fundamentalism

Afghan women sorting pistachios in Herat

Karima Bennoune grew up in Algeria in the 1990s, a dark period when the country was riven by Muslim fundamentalist violence and a repressive military dictatorship that responded to the fundamentalist threat with its own campaign of terror. Her father, Mahfoud Bennoune, an intellectual and outspoken critic of both the authorities and the fundamentalists who … Read more

BOOKS

Why the UN Was Built in New York and Not in South Dakota

UN headquarters at Hunter College in the Bronx, 1946

Who knew there was once such hot competition to host the United Nations? Not even the author of a book on the topic, when she first started out. One day in her home city of Philadelphia, Charlene Mires, an associate professor of history at Rutgers University, was going through some old newspaper clippings. One featured … Read more

BOOKS

Shocking! Uncle Sam Is Not an Honest Broker

Demonstration against land confiscation, Beit Ummar

  You shouldn’t need a book to tell you that the Palestinians have gotten pretty much zilch out of the Middle East peace process. So readers of “Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East” are unlikely to be astonished by what they find there. The core argument of the … Read more

Support nonprofit journalism →
Left Menu Icon

Sign up to get the smartest news on the UN by email, joining readers across the globe.

We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously

Don’t Miss a Story:

Subscribe to PassBlue