The UN Adopts an Arms Treaty ‘With Teeth’

Peter Woolcott, Australia ambassador to the UN

The momentous adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations has been greeted with much enthusiasm worldwide but also strong skepticism as the reality of carrying out its aim — regulating international transfers of conventional arms — sets in. “Effectiveness will be slow as it comes into force,” Peter Woolcott, the permanent representative … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The US, an Outlier in Ratifying the Children’s Rights Treaty

Millennium Village in Mayange, Rwanda

It is urgent that the United States ratify the international Convention on the Rights of the Child. This treaty, which recognizes that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance, is based on the principle that the family is the basic group of society, and it states that every child should be brought up in … Read more

The Masterminds Behind Security Council Resolutions

Security Council Meeting on the situation in Cyprus

The United Nations Security Council bases its resolutions on agenda items as varied as the renewal of a peacekeeping force mandate in Haiti to responding to a missile launching in North Korea. With resolutions’ language often dense legalese that recalls, recognizes, emphasizes, demands and, at times, condemns and deplores the issue at hand, the style … Read more

A US Diplomat Blasts UN Working Methods and Costs

Joseph M. Torsella, a US ambassador

Not quite two years into his term as the United States representative for UN management and reform, an angry Ambassador Joseph M. Torsella has had enough. In some recent speeches, Torsella, a former head of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia (and obviously not a diplomat by training) has turned to exasperation and sarcasm to … Read more

Giving Parliaments a Bigger Role in Good Governance

Ireland's representatives at IPU Main Assembly meeting 2012

Armed with a five-year strategy to strengthen the influence of national legislatures around the world, the Inter-Parliamentary Union is supporting international gatherings of legislators to discuss their role in fostering democracy, good government and effective development policies beyond the 2015 target date of the Millennium Development Goals. The next meeting, with parliamentarians from Asia, Africa … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

An American in Europe: The UN, Who Cares?

The metro in Cologne, Germany

BRUSSELS — George Gershwin certainly would not have been inspired to write a symphonic tone poem about an American academic on sabbatical attempting to interpret European reactions to the United Nations. Ten years ago, Robert Kagan wrote that “Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus.” Perhaps, but not regarding the UN. After years of … Read more

Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, to Stay Put for Now

Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN

President Obama announced that Susan Rice, US ambassador to the United Nations, has asked to have her name removed from consideration for US secretary of state. Hillary Clinton, who holds the position now, said she was leaving the post in 2013. “For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate … Read more

US Foes of Disability Treaty Reflect Discomfort With UN

At the UN's International Day of Persons with Disabilities

In blocking adoption by the United States of a global convention to protect the disabled, the Republican right signaled on Dec. 4 that it intends to stall or kill all international treaties sent to the Senate for ratification by the Obama administration. Even pleas from a frail and crippled Bob Dole, a former senator, in … Read more

Palestinians Cheer New Status at the United Nations

43rd plenary meeting of the General Assembly67th session: Question of Palestine

The General Assembly voted to elevate the Palestinian territories‘ status at the United Nations to nonmember observer state from nonmember observer entity, which it has held since 1974. The vote, occurring late afternoon on Nov. 29 in a packed Assembly Hall, was preceded by several speeches, including one by Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of the … Read more

BOOKS

Reasons to Love and Criticize the UN

Minustah in Haiti peacekeepers

In his new book, “Living With the UN: American Responsibilities and International Order,” Kenneth Anderson forces readers who lean sympathetically toward the United Nations to consider why they support it despite its faults. On the other hand, the acerbic views of Anderson, a law professor at American University, about the UN are deeply colored by his … 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

Obama to Tell UN That Washington Values Engagement

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama, criticized in an intense election campaign for not being tough enough with the rest of the world, is expected to tell fellow leaders next week why his administration thinks that cooperative action, not bluster or the flaunting of power, is a better policy for meeting the crises of this century. The busiest … 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

WORLDVIEWS

The Unesco-US Relationship: It’s Complicated

Prague's Vlata River.

When it comes to mysteries, the United States’ decision to rejoin Unesco in 2002 under a Republican administration and after nearly two decades’ absence remains puzzling, but it appears the move can be traced to Hollywood. Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has always borne the brunt of criticism from US politicians. Allegations … Read more

GOINGS-ON

New Spokeswoman Joining US Mission to the UN

Susan Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, announced to the UN press corps on July 20 that Mark Kornblau, her spokesman and the spokesman for the US mission since 2009, is leaving and will be succeeded by Erin Pelton, a director of communications and assistant press secretary for the National Security Council. … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The US-UN Dance Recovers Its Balance

Susan Rice

CANBERRA — The United Nations is located at the cross-section of Interdependence Avenue and Multilateral Cooperation Street in Manhattan. But its destiny lies at the intersection of Indifference Avenue and Hostility Street in Washington. That was the case, at least, under the George W. Bush administration through the mode of John Bolton, the United States … Read more

A Science Prize Complicates Life at Unesco and for the US

unesco science prize

Unesco is keeping a $3 million science prize after debating for months whether to drop the controversial award, which is meant to help fight diseases and was donated by the government of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea. With 33 years in office, he is Africa’s longest-serving dictator. The vote to keep the … Read more

Refugees Settling in the US Reaches 3 Million Mark

afghan refugees

Since 1975, three million refugees have settled in the United States, the world’s largest recipient of distressed or endangered people seeking permanent new homes. The US is also the largest financial contributor to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, say new figures from the State Department and the UN refugee agency. Canada and the US … Read more

GOINGS-ON

Proposed US Foreign Aid Shows Slight Increase

UN and guinea-bissau

In his recently released 2013 budget proposal, President Obama has increased funds for foreign aid to the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development, but the 1.2 percent rise over 2012 figures is still less than 1 percent of the entire federal budget. The total amount proposed for foreign aid is $51.6 … Read more

GOINGS-ON

In Their Own Words: A UN Oral History Project Moves Online

What goes on inside the United Nations as important issues are hashed out by officials and diplomats is rarely seen or heard by outsiders – consider the tense negotiations on Syria right now, done behind closed doors. But earlier this month, the opening of an archive of interviews with both insiders and others who have … Read more

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