WORLDVIEWS

With US Leadership Gone, Japan and Europe Can Seize the Day

We live in an age of uncertainty caused by the shifting structure and dynamics of international politics, economics and social change. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in his address to the General Assembly in September that this uncertainty was “a bad case of trust deficit disorder” at three levels. First, within countries, he said, … Read more

NIKKI HALEY WATCH

Speaking Loudly Even While Wielding the Big Stick

Whatever else came out of the latest American-led strikes on Syrian chemical weapon sites, it put on display rare signs of diplomatic skill on the part of the Trump administration, even if those signs first surfaced at the Pentagon rather than at the White House, the United Nations or Washington’s rudderless Department of State. After … Read more

GEOPOLITICS

Confronting Possible Gas Attacks in Syria, the UN Security Council Succumbs to Chaos

In a week of reversals, semireversals and blatant backtracking by some of the most powerful countries on earth, diplomacy showed its head-spinning underside in the United Nations Security Council, as three Western allies — Britain, France and the United States — conveyed their outrage against Russia for its perceived role in allowing the Syrian government … Read more

TOPIC: WOMEN

In Colombia, Female Ex-Combatants Still Face Risk of Stigmatization

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and the resulting agenda on women, peace and security has called for more inclusive peace processes, stressing that women’s specific needs and experiences should be taken into account during and after peace negotiations. Yet the role of female ex-combatants in peace processes remains understudied and somewhat neglected in policy … Read more

GOINGS-ON

A German Diplomat, Wolfgang Ischinger, Is Honored for Disarmament Work

A prestigious prize related to nuclear disarmament that has been given to Americans and Russians in the past has been awarded to a German, Wolfgang Ischinger, for the first time. The Nunn-Lugar Award for Promoting Nuclear Security honored Ischinger, a 71-year-old former diplomat, at the annual Munich Security Conference this month. The prize “recognizes individuals … Read more

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WORLDVIEWS

Iran Missiles to Yemen: Is There Room for Circumstantial Evidence in UN Sanctions?

Citing an unpublished report of the United Nations panel of experts on Yemen, The New York Times said recently that Iran violated the Yemen arms embargo, according to UN experts. The same day, The Washington Post used essentially the same set of reported facts under a more judicious headline that said, in part, “Iran weapons to Yemen … Read more

UNGA72

Snubbing Trump, Europe Stands Firm on the Iran Deal

The fight over preserving the Iranian nuclear deal took a firmer direction at the United Nations on Sept. 20. After Donald Trump, the United States president, proclaimed to the General Assembly the day before that the deal was “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” heads started … Read more

TOPIC: INDIA

In Lush Manipur, Women Work for Peace as Militarization Marches On

Manipur, a state of exceptional beauty in a little-known corner of northeastern India, was an independent region until 1949 when, in a controversial move, it was merged into the Indian union. Situated in an emerald green valley surrounded by nine blue mist-covered mountain ranges, the state has been seriously affected since 1949 by many continuous … Read more

GEOPOLITICS

At the UN, a New Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Is Adopted by 122 Nations

Nuclear buildup and threat of nuclear war became a front-page item this past week, after Kim Jong Un’s declaration of a successful intercontinental ballistic missile test, confirmed on July 4 by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Such headlines — proclaimed on America’s Independence Day — remind the public of the ever-present specter of … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Was America’s Attack on Syria Legal? An Asian Expert’s View

The images of civilians, particularly children, being asphyxiated by chemical substances and dying in Idlib Province of Syria on April 4 were a game changer. Judging that the chemical attack was carried out by the Syrian government, the United States, two days later, attacked Syria’s Shayrat airbase with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. The US action … Read more

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TAKE A LOOK

What Is VX, a Banned Toxin, and Who Polices These Killers?

The chilling accusation by Malaysia that the assassins who killed Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, used the world’s most powerful chemical toxin has set off a global shockwave well beyond Asia. Malaysian authorities are convinced that a North Korean hit squad — one member an accredited diplomat — was … Read more

GEOPOLITICS

Top Sellers of Weapons to the Developing World in 2015? US and France

Sanaa Yemen families the day after an airstrike

A responsibility to promote worldwide cooperation toward peace and security is not the only role that the permanent-five veto-wielding powers in the United Nations Security Council have in common. Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are also the world’s largest exporters of conventional weapons to developing countries. The export of weapons by the … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Autonomous Weapons: Urgent Questions Abound

Discussions on artificial intelligence too often revolve around concerns about the sensationalist threat of “killer robots,” usually featured in science-fiction films or computer games. Killing is depicted as easy and rapid, done by steel-clad monsters with superhuman abilities. Let me put this fear to rest. We do not yet have killer robots, though we must … Read more

UN to Investigate at Least Seven Cases of Chlorine and Mustard Gas Use in Syria

Seven possible cases of chemical weapons use in Syria — including chlorine and mustard gas — have been identified in a preliminary report released by a United Nations panel investigating who has deployed toxic weapons in the country’s civil war, now heading into its sixth year. No one has been apportioned blame by the panel, … Read more

Nuclear Treaty Review Ends in Disagreement as US Blames Egypt

A monthlong review at the United Nations of the global treaty intended to prevent the spread and ultimately the disarming of nuclear weapons worldwide ended on May 22 without a consensus because of a contentious proposal on steps to create a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. Objections from the United States, Britain and Canada … Read more

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NPT REVIEW

In a World of Messy Conflicts, Nuclear Controls Face a Review

IAEA Prep Meeting in Vienna 2012

With vast regions of the Middle East in flames, many thousands of people dying in executions born of religious intolerance or left to drown at sea by morally repugnant criminal traffickers, it could seem like an odd time to turn attention to the long-range threat of nuclear weapons. On the contrary, say government disarmament officials … Read more

GOINGS-ON

Angela Kane Is Leaving the UN in a Political Shuffle

Angela Kane, one of the United Nations’ most respected and experienced officials and the lead negotiator in 2014 in persuading Syria to give up its chemical weapons, has announced unexpectedly that she will be leaving the organization. She has been the UN’s High Representative for Disarmament since March 2012. Reports are circulating around the UN … Read more

Climate Moves the Doomsday Clock Closer to Midnight

Just a week after scientists reported that 2014 was the hottest year on earth since systematic records began to be kept 130 years ago, the Doomsday Clock, symbolic of how close the planet may be coming to catastrophe, moved ahead two minutes, to three minutes to midnight on Thursday, Jan. 22. The clock, designed by … Read more

Time Runs Short for the US to Ratify the Test Ban Treaty

When the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was adopted and opened for government signatures at the United Nations in 1996, the United States was among the first of more than 180 countries to sign the agreement to end nuclear test explosions and prevent nations with nuclear weapons ambitions from pursuing those goals. The US unilaterally declared … Read more

Will All of Syria’s Arsenal of Chemical Weapons Be Destroyed?

After an extraordinary effort from the United Nations, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and about a half dozen countries, including the United States and Russia, 96 percent of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal has been destroyed, acting on a UN Security Council mandate. The remaining 4 percent of the arsenal consists of 12 … Read more

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