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

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

BOOKS

Diplomacy: An Insider’s Guide

Kosovar refugee

International crises are not always resolved on the battlefield or at the negotiating table. Sometimes breakthroughs come around a table at a restaurant that is continents away. Or they fall in place because of a thoughtful gesture made by an important player at a cemetery years before. This is one of the lessons of “Liberating … Read more

BOOKS

Kofi Annan: The Back Story

Kofi Annan

Frederic Eckhard, the United Nations spokesman for eight and a half of Kofi Annans 10 years as secretary-general, was certainly well placed to write a tell-all account of that action-packed era. But readers of Eckhard’s new book, “Kofi Annan: A Spokesperson’s Memoir,” get that and something more. Along with the insider accounts, there’s the portrait … Read more

 

BOOKS

More Foodless Days Ahead, Unless ‘We’ Act Now

Cotton farmer Traore, 29, checks his cotton field outside Koutiala, Mali

Is the planet full? And how many plates are empty? These are the first two questions that came to my mind from the title of Lester R. Brown‘s new book, “Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity.” With world population now standing at 7.1 billion and projected to exceed 9.3 billion by … Read more

BOOKS

Iran’s ‘Grand Bargain’ With the West

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, addressing the UN conference on sustainable development, June 20, 2012.

Iran’s nuclear crisis has been dragging on for a decade, so it sure would be great if someone in the know finally laid out the definitive plan for resolving the dispute and ending Tehran’s international isolation. In “The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir,” a veteran Iranian diplomat, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, modestly puts himself forward as … Read more

BOOKS

From Wole Soyinka: A Manifesto for Africa

Wole Soyinka, author of "Of 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 … Read more

BOOKS

Reasons to Love and Criticize the UN

Minustah in Haiti peacekeepers

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 … Read more

 

BOOKS

The Quiet Korean: Ban Ki-moon Opens Up

Ban Ki-moon

Over the last few years, an American journalist and academic, Tom Plate, has been writing a series of books called “Giants of Asia.” Lee Kuan Yew, the brilliant if steely founder of modern Singapore, was first. Then came Mahathir Mohamad, the former long-serving but short-tempered prime minister of Malaysia, and Thaksin Shinawatra, a deposed Thai … Read more

BOOKS

Kofi Annan: Lessons in Futility

Kofi Annan

  Kofi Annan‘s existential crisis during his decade as United Nations secretary-general was without question related to the US-led invasion of Iraq. But the most fascinating part of his new memoir, “Interventions: A Life in War and Peace,” is the account of his numerous attempts to nudge the world toward a Middle East peace deal. … Read more

BOOKS

The Human Rights Council Gets More Respect

Migrants locked up in a camp in Libya.

The visibility of human-rights violations by the Syrian government amid the current turmoil owes much to the United Nations, particularly to its Independent International Commission of Inquiry, led by Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, a Brazilian lawyer, public official and professor.  Such commissions are part of a growing number of tools used by the UN to promote … Read more

BOOKS

The Ethics of Chocolate

Cocoa farmer pruning a tree in Ivory Coast.

Given longstanding reports of slavery, economic exploitation and corruption in the West African cocoa trade, how guilty should you feel about eating a chocolate bar? How about one made with cocoa marketed under the fair-trade umbrella – a loose international system aimed at providing growers with fair prices while also imposing fair labor standards and … Read more

 

BOOKS

Plumbing the Depths of the Afghan Paradox

Eide in Afghanistan

The Norwegian diplomat, Kai Eide, left Afghanistan for the final time in March 2010, as the United Nations special representative and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for two years. With former postings as a UN special envoy in Kosovo and in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as a Norwegian ambassador to NATO and to the … Read more

BOOKS

Judging Charles Taylor

special court for sierra leone

Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, displayed a talent for troublemaking from a young age. Convicted on April 26 by a United Nations-backed tribunal for numerous counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Taylor appears to have kept up his bad behavior for most of his 64 years. As a boy in rural Liberia, … 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

BOOKS

A Search for Truth Behind UN Motives in Africa

lumumba and congo

“How can a beret colored blue … vaccinate against the racism and paternalism of people whose only vision of Africa is lion hunting, slave markets and colonial conquest; people for whom the history of civilization is built on the possession of colonies?” The question was asked by Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese premier, who was worried … Read more

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