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Tough Times for Legislators as More Women and Youth Still Fall Short

Marking the first International Day of Parliamentarians on June 28, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, representing legislators in 173 countries, reported that serious challenges are emerging as antidemocratic forces playing on public apathy increase. In a survey of legislatures worldwide in 2018, “Are Parliamentary Democracies in Danger?” the global parliamentary union finds huge challenges to these institutions. … Read more

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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

TOPIC: WOMEN

As Sweden and Canada Push a ‘Feminist Foreign Policy,’ Others Resist the Label

After years of civil war, Somalia is beginning to build democratic institutions with support from the West, even as horrific violence repeatedly strikes the capital, Mogadishu. Help from foreign countries and regional groups — such as the European Union, Italy and the United States — was provided in Somalia’s 2016 election, where electoral processes and … Read more

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A Trove of Resources for Navigating Our Angry World

In the dark shadows of rising populism and hypernationalistic leaders, attempts to intimidate reporters and curb the exchange of information are taking on less visibly crude but still dangerous forms. The menace, highlighted in the United States by Donald Trump’s contemptuous accusations against the press, television and social media, has global echoes. There is no … Read more

As Democracies Weaken Globally, Women Fail to Win Top Political Posts

OSLO — The last year has brought troubling events for feminists who are striving to see more women win top political leadership positions. Two female presidents, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and Park Guen-hye of South Korea, had to leave office amid corruption scandals. In the United States, a female candidate did not become president: Hillary … Read more

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What Defines a Fragile State? It Depends

It will come as no surprise to regular consumers of news that in the new Fragile States Index, published on May 15, South Sudan is at the top of the ranks of endangered countries and tranquil Finland is the most stable of all nations. But the grading and analysis of 178 nations compiled by the … Read more

TOPIC: WOMEN

Feminists Made the Difference: How Women Won National Leadership Roles

Hillary Clinton did not make it to the top, but Theresa May, the British prime minister, and Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, did. Since Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world’s first female prime minister, in Sri Lanka in 1960, one-hundred women have been heads of state or government around the world. How did they get to … Read more

Note to Trump: US and Chinese Publics Want Their Nations to Be Active in World Affairs

Barely a day before Donald Trump set off a recent diplomatic crisis between China and the United States by backing Taiwan in a chatty phone call with the island’s president, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs published poll results from the US and China that found a surprising correlation between public attitudes in the two … Read more

What Is Populism and How Did Trump Use It to Win?

Recently, I spoke with Jan-Werner Muller, who is currently a fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna and teaches politics at Princeton University, where he is also the founding director of the History of Political Thought Project. He is the author of several books, including “What Is Populism?,” in which he explores the … Read more

In Post-Brexit Tangle, Scotland’s Leader Acts Decisively

DUNDEE, Scotland — Before dawn on June 24, Britain voted by a majority to leave the European Union. Yet every region in Scotland voted to remain, and now Scots face the prospect of being pulled from the European Union against their will. Striding confidently into the press room in Edinburgh, the home of the Scottish … Read more

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In the Scottish West Isles, a Resounding ‘No’ to Brexit

ISLE OF MULL, Scotland — In the breathtaking Inner Hebrides off the Scottish West Coast, there is no shortage of opinion on whether Britain should vote to leave the European Union. No one, it seems, is willing to take such a risk, as several people on this island said, revealing a sense of vulnerability that … Read more

Understanding Burundi as It Implodes Again

Carolyn McAskie is a Canadian expert in international development who was awarded the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest honors, in 2007. She headed the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African country of Burundi from 2004 to 2006, when a new political system was created and hopes were high. Later, as … Read more

Women Compete in Burkina Faso’s Presidential Contest, a First for the Nation

These Burkina Faso voters leave a polling station

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — This small but determined West African country voted on Sunday in its first presidential election since its last president, Blaise Compaoré, was ousted in October 2014. He had ruled the country for 27 years and was finally pushed out by a grass-roots opposition movement. Although the front-runner, Roch Marc Kaboré, appears … Read more

Societal Breakdown? Bold Legislators Face Harassment and Persecution Worldwide

In Iraq and more than a dozen diverse other nations, from Malaysia to Eritrea to Venezuela, members of national legislatures face persecution or personal risks as the development machinery of the United Nations often places its hopes on national parliaments to act on behalf of people they represent. The Inter-Parliamentary Union, or IPU, announced on … Read more

The Situation for Women and Girls Around the World? Stark.

As the United Nations prepares to formally accept the new Sustainable Development Goals at midday at a summit meeting on Friday, here is a close look at one of the main resources that helped inform the long debate on creating the goals — the UN Development Program’s Human Development Report for 2014. What do the … Read more

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In West Africa, Guinea’s Relative Stability Is About to Be Tested With Elections

Yet another nation — this time in West Africa — is experiencing violence related to elections. In Guinea, protests have been flaring as demonstrators rally against the delay of local elections in the country. Violence erupted in the capital, Conakry, earlier in May, with supporters of the opposition calling for President Alpha Condé’s resignation. As … Read more

The Post-2015 Goals: People Around the World Talk Back

Advocates offering some alternative ideas and a few dissenting views on the Sustainable Development Goals on track to be adopted by the United Nations at a special session later this year are convening on Jan. 26 in New York to air opinions from all major developing regions on this critical new proposed set of policies. … Read more

2015: A Year of Potential Landmarks for the UN

By almost every measure, this year will be monumental for the United Nations. The organization will be 70 years old and that will inspire, as anniversaries always do, a lot of stocktaking, analysis and, of course, criticism. Past stumbles will get attention and an army of  “reformers” will offer prescriptions for the future. In 2015, … Read more

Illegal Money Transfers From Developing Nations Nearing $1 Trillion

A nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., estimates that in 2011 — the latest data available — $946.7 billion flowed out of developing countries in various illegal ways, including diversions by corrupt officials and businesses as well as through tax evasion, terrorist transfers and cash moved across borders in the suitcases of traffickers. Furthermore, … Read more

Burkina Faso’s People, Opposing an Autocrat, Feel Let Down by the UN

The fast-moving people-power coup that ousted a longtime leader of the landlocked West African country of Burkina Faso took not only powerful nations and international institutions by surprise — including the United Nations, France, the United States, the African Union and African regional groups — but also the Burkina protesters themselves. The demonstrations started in … Read more

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