The Syrian War, Picked Apart by a Diplomat Who Knows

Jean-Marie Gguehenno of Columbia University

The new creation of a national Syrian coalition to make the opposition groups more coherent could propel a much-needed breakthrough in the country’s 20-month civil war, Jean-Marie Guéhenno a professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, told an audience there on Nov. 13. It has been a costly affair humanitarian-wise: close to 40,000 … Read more

Five New Security Council Members, Many New Agendas

UN General Assembly elects nonpermanent Security Council members

As the five newly elected United Nations Security Council members prep for their seats, what will their work look like when they take office Jan. 1 for two years? It’s impossible to predict how the winners – Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea and Rwanda – will fill their nonpermanent seats among Britain, China, France, Russia … Read more

Finland and Others Compete for Coveted Security Council Seats

Helsinki street

HELSINKI – As the United States prepares for its much-awaited presidential election on Nov. 6, another hotly contested vote is readying at the United Nations Security Council on Oct. 18. Numerous countries are vying for the five open nonpermanent seats, among them Australia, Finland and Luxembourg, who are competing for the two seats being vacated … Read more

Protecting Children’s Rights in Troubled Landscapes

Special Representative Rhadika Coomaraswamy meeting with Chadian President Idriss Déby

The Security Council has waded deeper into the tricky waters of protecting the rights of children in armed conflict despite protests of sovereignty from some countries, passing a resolution that clarifies the mandate for the UN special envoy on safeguarding children. The resolution, submitted by Canada and 30 other primarily Western countries, was adopted with … Read more

 

WORLDVIEWS

Close Cooperation Is Useful Between the General Assembly and Security Council

Nassir Abdulaziz Al Nasser of Qatar, the outgoing General Assembly president.

BERLIN — If you ask people on the street which United Nations organ has more influence, the Security Council or the General Assembly, they will most probably answer: “The Security Council,” since it has the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security and is the only UN organ that can issue legally binding decisions … Read more

As UN Monitoring Mission Dies in Syria, a New Envoy Is Named

Gerard Araud of the Security Council

The United Nations Security Council will not renew the mandate for the monitoring mission it set up in Syria this spring to supervise a peace plan that never materialized. The mandate for the UN Supervision Mission, called Unsmis, expires Aug. 19. The unarmed mission, renewed in July for 30 days, is down to 100 officers … Read more

A Former Child Soldier Grows Up in Colombia

Jesus Martinez, former child soldier in Bogota

  BOGOTÁ – Jesús Martínez has money on his mind: his monthly budget of $250, his $75 rent and the $7,500 he will soon receive from the government. Eighteen-year-old Martínez, which is not his real name, never touched a peso until he was 16 and fled the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the Farc, … Read more

Kofi Annan Resigns as Special Envoy for Syria

Kofi Annan, joint special envoy for Syria

Kofi Annan, the joint special envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League for the Syrian crisis, resigned today, leaving any residual hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict gone for now. The resignation seems to have taken the UN by surprise, though Gérard Araud, the French ambassador to the UN, said after … Read more

 

UN Mission in Syria Renewed for 30 Days

A day after the United Nations Security Council refused to adopt a British-sponsored resolution that would have sanctioned the Syrian government if fighting persisted, the council agreed unanimously to renew the mandate of the UN mission in the country to monitor a cease-fire that never happened. The 400-member team, called the UN Supervision Mission in … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Five Lightweights Fight to Reform the Security Council

UN General Assembly

BERLIN — It is a story of political courage and steadfastness: After it had become obvious that the 2005 World Summit had not brought any progress in the reform of the Security Council regarding its composition of permanent and nonpermanent members, a group of five small countries, in short Small Five or S-5 — Costa … Read more

UN Security Council to Study Child Soldier Use in Colombia

BOGOTÁ — Two longstanding Colombian armed groups are cited in the United Nations secretary-general’s annual “list of shame” released this month, enumerating parties who use children in armed conflict, among other related human-rights abuses. The country’s two major antigovernment guerrilla groups, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc, and the National Liberation Army (Eln), have … Read more

Swiss UN Mission Asks Others to Help Refer Syria to The Hague

Observers sent to the villages of el-Qubeir to conduct a fact finding mission following reports of a massacre.

As the 300-member United Nations unarmed observer mission in Syria suspends its work because of intensifying violence in the country, Britain and Switzerland are beginning efforts to refer the Syrian situation to the International Criminal Court. The British foreign secretary, William Hague, announced recently that his office is preparing a case against the Syrian government … Read more

 

A West African Coup’s Potential Ripple Effects

Guinea-Bissau army

DAKAR, Senegal — The fate of Guinea-Bissau hangs on precariously as regional and international bodies involved in resolving the country’s post-coup crisis, which forestalled a presidential run-off vote, disagree about pace and tactics. The complications from the coup and another recent government overthrow, in Mali, have created unease throughout West Africa, possibly the last place … Read more

UN Security Council Sends an Observer Team to Syria

Russian ambassador to the UN

The Security Council passed a resolution on Saturday allowing a team of 30 unarmed military observers to enter Syria as soon as Sunday to monitor the cease-fire that has more or less been respected since Thursday. Up to 250 observers, drawn mostly from United Nations peacekeeping troops in the region, are to eventually make up … Read more

In Tiny Guinea-Bissau, Ruthless Politics and Cool Refrain

Bissau port

BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau — Guinea-Bissau’s presidential election on March 18 and the shooting of the country’s former military intelligence that evening caught the world’s attention briefly, as rumors of a coup festered. So far, that has not happened. Since then, more prominent West African nations have snagged international attention: the presidential election run-off in Senegal, in … Read more

The Security Council Shows Unity on Syrian Crisis

special envoy to Syria

The Security Council adopted a presidential statement today backing Kofi Annan, the joint United Nations-Arab League special envoy to Syria, on his mission to resolve the year-long crisis there. Russia’s UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, told the press after the adoption that his country’s stance on Syria had not changed and that the statement reflected what … Read more

 

BOOKS

A Search for Truth Behind UN Motives in Africa

lumumba and congo

“How can a beret colored blue … vaccinate against the racism and paternalism of people whose only vision of Africa is lion hunting, slave markets and colonial conquest; people for whom the history of civilization is built on the possession of colonies?” The question was asked by Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese premier, who was worried … Read more

Security Council Vents Frustration Over Syria Crisis

British ambassador to the UN

In a voice of rare unanimity on the situation in Syria, the 15-member UN Security Council conveyed its “deep disappointment” that Valerie Amos, United Nations under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, was turned down by the government to enter the country to assess the humanitarian crisis. The press statement was read by Mark Lyall Grant, the … Read more

A Sobering Security Council Trip to Haiti

Security Council Visits the Fort National UN Base in Haiti

One of the most interesting developments in the Security Council’s work in the past decades is the increasing frequency and immediacy of “road trips” ambassadors are taking to the most problematic places on their agenda. Recent delegations have gone on missions to Afghanistan and numerous African nations, among other places. A year-old Russian proposal for … Read more

Invoking Pontius Pilate After the Vote

Of the many eloquent, impassioned speeches voiced by ambassadors in the Security Council right after Russia and China’s veto of the resolution aimed at ending the violence in Syria, Pakistan’s stood out for its professorial panache. Abdullah Hussain Haroon, the ambassador of the UN from Pakistan, invoked Pontius Pilate’s washing of his hands over the … Read more

Support nonprofit journalism →
Left Menu Icon

Don't Miss a Story:

Subscribe to PassBlue

Sign up to get the smartest news on the UN by email, joining readers across the globe.​

We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously​

Sign up to get the smartest news on the UN by email, joining readers across the globe.

We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously

Don’t Miss a Story:

Subscribe to PassBlue