Can UN Development Be Reformed? Not at This Rate

UN Development Program Cambodia Workshop August 2019

GENEVA — Like his predecessors, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has been pushing a reform program to help the organization adjust to the demands of contemporary global governance. Over nearly 75 years, the UN has innovated and adapted. At first, humanitarian assistance was not envisaged to go beyond the needs of people displaced by global … Read more Can UN Development Be Reformed? Not at This Rate

For Census-Takers Worldwide, 2020 Could Be a Rough Year

For more than a week, protesters of all faiths have been marching by the hundreds of thousands on the streets of many Indian cities and towns to condemn a divisive new citizenship law targeting Muslims across the South Asian region. The trouble had been brewing for months, after the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister … Read more For Census-Takers Worldwide, 2020 Could Be a Rough Year

They Call It Multistakeholderism. Where Does That Leave the UN?

Global governance is slipping away from the United Nations. Whether it is in managing the Internet, where the UN’s governing structure offers only an advisory role for governments; or climate change, where the most exciting actions are now corporate-led partnerships outside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; or the Gates Foundation-sponsored Gavi, The Vaccine … Read more They Call It Multistakeholderism. Where Does That Leave the UN?

As the SDGs Falter, the UN Turns to the Rich and Famous

Amina Mohammed with Borge Brende, António Guterres and Klaus Schwab

The Sustainable Development Goals are in trouble. United Nations officials are concerned and say so publicly. Secretary-General António Guterres  joined in raising an alarm in mid-July when he introduced the most recent official UN report. “It is abundantly clear that a much deeper, faster and more ambitious response is needed to unleash the social and … Read more As the SDGs Falter, the UN Turns to the Rich and Famous

Reform Clouds Darken the Future of the UN Development Program

As the first effects of Secretary-General António Guterres’s ambitious organizational reform plans become apparent, former and current officials of the United Nations Development Program see the future of the internationally influential agency as uncertain if not in peril. Fears center on aspects of the reform plan for development that would allow more political interference by … Read more Reform Clouds Darken the Future of the UN Development Program

The Role of the Private Sector in Building Peace: It’s Essential

Another year of Secretary-General António Guterres’s reform of the peace and security pillar of the United Nations is ending without fully addressing a main obstacle to peacebuilding in conflict-torn countries under UN intervention: sustainable economic recovery. The key question facing the UN is how to support economic reconstruction amid the political, security and social reforms that … Read more The Role of the Private Sector in Building Peace: It’s Essential

Numbers Are People: Where Will They Be in 2050?   

Right now, the population of the world is growing, paradoxically, at both ends of the age spectrum, for different reasons and with different results. In the developed world, the widely reported concern is that fewer births, and longer lives among the old, whose numbers are rising, will altogether wreak havoc on social security and health … Read more Numbers Are People: Where Will They Be in 2050?   

China’s Priorities in the UN Security Council: Peacekeeping

Ma Zhaoxu, China's ambassador to the UN

Welcome back to our monthly column, Security Council Presidency, providing insight into the United Nations Security Council member sitting in the rotating seat of the presidency every month and featuring a capsule of the country itself. The column kicked off in July when Sweden was president, led by the country’s ambassador to the UN, Olof Skoog. … Read more China’s Priorities in the UN Security Council: Peacekeeping

Mexico City, 1975: When the Year of the Woman Was Born

From 1975 to 1995, the United Nations sponsored four international conferences on women that produced wildly optimistic blueprints for concrete gains. Some people dismiss these forums and the programs for action that they generated as lacking strategies to carry them out. Others insist that the conferences raised awareness, shaped aspirations, fostered activism and, in countless … Read more Mexico City, 1975: When the Year of the Woman Was Born

Can the UN Finally Get Serious About Inefficiencies in Its Development System?

BONN, Germany — Member states of the United Nations are now negotiating reform proposals for the world body’s development system. In the latest draft resolution, they welcome the secretary-general’s proposal for “advancing common business operations” and “request” for their “implementation,” in line with earlier decisions by the General Assembly (a previous draft requested “full implementation”). This … Read more Can the UN Finally Get Serious About Inefficiencies in Its Development System?

A Hindu-Muslim Friendship That Helped Shape How the World Measured Poverty

They were two young men studying at Cambridge University when they met in the wake of the bloody Partition of British India. One was a Kashmiri-born Muslim and the other a Hindu-born Bengali. But the two, Mahbub ul Haq of Pakistan and Amartya Sen from India, soon formed an intellectual bond and deep friendship. “It … Read more A Hindu-Muslim Friendship That Helped Shape How the World Measured Poverty

Lessons From African Kings, Real and Imagined

As ticket sales for the film “Black Panther” rocketed into the stratosphere in the United States and around the world after its opening in February, a real king in the poor West African nation of Burkina Faso won a peace prize for his part in averting bloodshed in a political crisis. On Feb.23, Mogho Naba … Read more Lessons From African Kings, Real and Imagined

China’s Notions of UN Reform: Filling the Growing Vacuum Left by the US

China has presented its position on United Nations reform, and it aligns with Secretary-General António Guterres’s own agenda. It pushes for practicalities, such as a transparent process, a stronger peace and security pillar, streamlined internal management and more geographic diversity in hiring practices in peacekeeping and the UN Secretariat. “The world is undergoing major developments, … Read more China’s Notions of UN Reform: Filling the Growing Vacuum Left by the US

Least-Developed Countries, a Status That Many Nations Can’t Leave Behind

Since 1971, the United Nations has recognized least-developed countries as those deemed highly disadvantaged in their development strides because of structural, historical and geographical reasons. The aim has been, and still is, to support these countries to graduate to higher levels of self-sufficiency and economic independence, not in the sense for a privileged minority but … Read more Least-Developed Countries, a Status That Many Nations Can’t Leave Behind

Come to Armenia: Russia Backs a UN Project to Develop Rural Tourism

BJNI, Armenia — The riverside village of Bjni possesses all the ingredients to blossom into a tourist haven for visitors new to this landlocked country in the South Caucasus and for Armenians themselves. What visitors don’t see right away in Bjni, where a $3 million Russian-financed United Nations tourism project is in the works, is … Read more Come to Armenia: Russia Backs a UN Project to Develop Rural Tourism

Getting to Know Mediterranean Farmers: Agritourism Hits Sicily

BELPASSO, Italy — The Oasi di Francesca farm-stay hotel is situated in an unlikely spot here in Sicily, about a kilometer from an Italian naval air base and a half hour to the large port city of Catania in the east, facing the Ionian Sea. Among the acres of low-lying artichoke plants — as well … Read more Getting to Know Mediterranean Farmers: Agritourism Hits Sicily

A Guide to Trump’s Global Edicts on Women’s Reproductive Health

The Trump administration, which announced early this year that it would curtail American-funded women’s health services around the world that may be involved in any way in abortion, has turned its attention to curbing family planning in the United States. Rules have been issued with immediate effect that American women can no longer obtain contraceptives … Read more A Guide to Trump’s Global Edicts on Women’s Reproductive Health

With US Funds Gone, UN Population Fund Faces Brutal Choices in Helping Women

It will soon be two years since the United Nations adopted a new 15-year development policy encapsulated in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This sprawling, ambitious agenda was designed partly to address the shortcomings of the Millennium Goals, the most disheartening of which for women was the failure to meet promises of improved maternal health … Read more With US Funds Gone, UN Population Fund Faces Brutal Choices in Helping Women

Warning: Too Much Reliance on Data Can Undermine the UN’s SDGs

At the United Nations, the buzz around a “data revolution” has taken the role of numeric indicators to new heights. Once thought to be a technical issue for statisticians, data questions were a recurring theme in conversations among the thousands of politicians, officials, activists and researchers who gathered in mid-July at the UN’s High-Level Political … Read more Warning: Too Much Reliance on Data Can Undermine the UN’s SDGs

Mass Tourism: Bad for Culture but Good for Women?

FLORENCE, Italy — This month, Italy’s tourism season kicks into high gear. Florence, which receives more than 16 million tourists a year, is one of many cities to be marred by mass travel. In the famously picturesque Piazza della Signoria, groups plod through the cobblestoned square, shepherded by flag-waving guides. Vendors peddle selfie-sticks in broken … Read more Mass Tourism: Bad for Culture but Good for Women?

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