US to Increase Military Aid to Syrian Rebels, in Response to Chemical Weapons Use

Sellstrom and Ban Ki-moon

The United States will be increasing the “scope and scale” of its help to the main opposition group fighting in Syria against the country’s regime, based on recent assessments that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on several occasions in the last two months against the rebels and others. After a “confident” assessment made by … Read more

Congo Army Rapes Detailed in UN Report as Special Brigade Arrives

UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region visit in Goma

The cycle of sexual violence that has been churning throughout the eastern half of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has refused to stop, despite all the steps the United Nations has taken over decades to end the epidemic. Just last fall, systematic rapes, committed by the Congolese Army, occurred in an area around Minova, … Read more

The UN Security Council Chamber Reopens With a Touch of Class

UN Security Council Chamber reopening

The Norwegians have always influenced the direction of the United Nations either subtly or directly, starting with the world body’s first secretary-general, Trygve Lie, hailing from Norway. Now, with the reopening of the Security Council Chamber after being closed for three years, the country is once again leaving its mark. It not only paid for … Read more

Ban Ki-moon Backs Emergency Steps for Women Raped in Conflict

Congo women exhibition

With the issues of emergency contraception — the “morning after” pill — and abortion still topics of tremendous controversy among United Nations members, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended that both should be offered as part of an international response to the rape of women in conflict situations. Writing in his first report on the subject … Read more

 

WORLDVIEWS

Will the Next Secretary-General Come From Eastern Europe?

Vuk Jeremic, president of UN General Assembly, left; Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata, Italy's foreign affairs minister; Cesare Maria Ragaglini (center), ambassador of Italy to the UN.

Last week, former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband announced plans to move to New York to head the International Rescue Committee, a leading humanitarian organization. In his new position, Miliband is likely to be a powerful voice in debates over crises such as that in Syria. His decision may have inspired some envy at the … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The Arctic, a Chance for Land Grabs or a New Treaty?

Arctic Circle visit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

KANDY, Sri Lanka — No country owns the North Pole or the expanse of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. The Arctic region has a population of about 4 million, including more than 30 distinct groups of indigenous people using dozens of languages; they have lived there for more than 10,000 years. The area also has … 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

Deep Flaws in UN Response to Sri Lanka Include R2P Failure

Tamil Tiger cadres loading up in Sri Lanka

The United Nation’s internal report on its role during the final stages of the prolonged civil war in Sri Lanka was unusually critical of the Secretariat and highlighted major shortcomings in the UN’s response to the fighting. The report, which was leaked to the BBC days before its official release on Nov. 15, forced top … Read more

 

Gender Parity in Upper-Level UN Jobs Remains Elusive

Ban Ki-moon of the UN

This year, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has so far appointed 55 people to high-level positions. Twelve of the appointees, nearly 22 percent, are women, filling roles like the special representative for children and armed conflict and the executive director of the World Food Program. Some of the people Ban appointed include Zainab Hawa Bangura … 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

Tough Love Time for the UN

Even though Ban Ki-moon just began his second five-year term this year as United Nations secretary-general, names are already surfacing as to his possible replacement when his term is up. Technically, Ban could be appointed a third term, but no secretary-general so far has held three. Most UN academic experts who were surveyed for a … Read more

 

Ban Ki-moon Invokes Strong Words for Iran, Syria and the Nonaligned

Ban Ki-moon meets with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking on Aug. 30 to the 120-member Nonaligned Movement meeting in Tehran, took a swing at his hosts, saying that denying the Holocaust and threatening Israel’s existence is racist and undermines the values of the United Nations. “We must prevent conflict between all UN member states,” he said, without naming Iran. “And … Read more

GOINGS-ON

Ban Ki-moon’s New Team Earning Positive Reviews

Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, new head of public information at the UN

When leaders of the world start descending on the United Nations in September for the opening of a new General Assembly session, there will two new internationally well-known figures in prominent positions at the top of the organization. In July, Jan Eliasson of Sweden became the UN’s deputy secretary-general, and in mid-August, Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal of … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Ban’s Second Term: It’s Time to Involve UN Diplomats

un secretary general

BERLIN — Like his predecessors, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon started his second term, in January, by presenting a program to the General Assembly and to the public, adorned with a momentous title: The Five Year Action Agenda, “The Future We Want.” It outlines in ambitious rhetoric the key areas where Ban thinks the … Read more

GOINGS-ON

Top US Official at the UN to Leave Post

B. Lynn Pascoe, an American diplomat who has served as under secretary-general for political affairs during Ban Ki-moon’s first term, is leaving that key position early in the new year, as the secretary-general reshapes his senior team for his second five-year term beginning on Jan.1. The first announcement of pending changes at the top of … Read more

 

GOINGS-ON

A New Envoy, Slovakian, Heads to Afghanistan

Jan Kubis, a 59-year-old former Slovakian foreign minister, has been named the UN’s new special representative to Afghanistan in an appointment announced Nov. 23 by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Kubis replaces Staffan de Mistura, an Italian-Swedish diplomat whose term began in March 2010 and ends on Dec. 31. Kubis will also be head of the UN … Read more

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