At Geneva II Talks in January, It Is Not Enough to ‘Add Women and Stir’

Lakhdar Brahimi

The campaign to ensure women’s equal participation at the peace talks on Syria in January has become more urgent, as certain parties recognize that women are vital in rebuilding and reconciling Syrian society. Yet only a few weeks before the talks are scheduled to start, no commitment has been made as to whether women will … Read more

The UN Helps Journalists in Conflict Areas, but Cannot Protect Them

A Malian soldier fires an AK-47 during fighting with Islamists in Gao

Two radio journalists from France were killed on Nov. 2 outside Kidal in the northern desert reaches of Mali. The journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, both in their 50s, were kidnapped right in front of a Tuareg official’s home by gunmen and found dead just miles from town, their throats slashed and bodies fresh … Read more

Ban Confirms Chemical Weapons Were Leashed on Syrians, Based on UN Report

Secretary General receives report on chemical weapons use in Syria

The much-awaited report by the United Nations investigative mission on the use of chemical weapons in Syria on Aug. 21 in Ghouta has been handed over to the secretary-general by Ake Sellstrom, the head of the mission; it has not been released to the public yet by the UN but France put it online. In … Read more

The UN Awaits Results of Chemical Weapons Analysis From Syria

Ban Ki-moon

  In the daily unfolding drama behind the recent investigation by a United Nations team on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today that all biomedical and environmental samples gathered by the inspectors “at sites of possible chemical weapons use in Syria” will arrive at designated laboratories in Europe … Read more

It’s Down to Latin America v. Africa to Lead UN Women

Alcinda Abreu, environment minister of Mozambique

After several months of public speculation at the United Nations, two candidates are now in tight contention for the executive director post of UN Women, the main agency tasked with promoting the treatment and rights of women worldwide since it began operating in January 2011. Rebeca Grynspan, 57, is one contender. Since 2010, she has … Read more

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

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