The US, as Predicted, Loses a Valuable Vote at Unesco

Irina Bokova of Unesco

As predicted by PassBlue, the United States has lost its voting rights in Unesco, since it stopped paying its dues almost exactly two years ago because of a Congressional ban on support for any UN agency that gives full membership to the Palestinians. Unesco suspended American voting rights on Nov. 8, as well as those … Read more

The US Could Soon Lose Its Voting Ability at Unesco

Monticello, a Unesco World Heritage Site

The United States may be ineligible to vote in Unesco’s November elections to choose members of the agency’s executive board and the next director-general, among other major matters, because the US stopped paying its dues as a member in October 2011. Unesco, formally called the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is known for its … Read more

The Failure of Mainstream Media to Cover the UN: Who’s to Blame?

Security Council Meeting-draft resolution on Syria chemical weapons

As media coverage of the United Nations dwindles and becomes more hyperfocused on geopolitics, the public learns less and less about the UN itself and how it operates. Who is to blame for the decreasing, narrow coverage — the press, a disinterested public or the UN itself? Barbara Crossette spoke on the subject at the … Read more

New York City and the UN: Cool but Useful Partners

UN entryway

As most people know, the United Nations headquarters rests on a prime slice of New York City real estate along the East River, stretching from East 42nd to East 48th Streets on First Avenue. The UN agreed to adopt the site as its home as a second-best option in 1946, after acquiring a suburban campus … Read more

 

Will The New York Times Fill Its Press Seat at the UN?

Wreath-laying Ceremony marking 10th anniversary of UN Baghdad bombing.

Neil MacFarquhar, who has been the United Nations bureau chief of The New York Times since June 2008, has left the post to move to Moscow, where he will continue to report for the paper. MacFarquhar, who covered the UN during the first and current term of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a Korean, reported on a … Read more

A UN Garden, Sweet With Fair Roses

A Kenyan in the UN rose garden

Set discreetly within the 17-acre compound of the United Nations on the East River, about 1,550 roses grow and bloom year after year. The UN roses, flowers with imaginative names, are donated by All America Rose Selections, a nonprofit group dedicated to the cause of “exceptional roses.” They consist of hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras and … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

From Rice to Power at the United Nations

Samantha Power

President Obama’s choice of Samantha Power to become the next United States ambassador to the United Nations and her recent confirmation by the Senate sends a strong, positive signal to all human-rights defenders. “As one of our country’s leading foreign policy thinkers, Samantha knows that our nation’s interests are advanced with strong and principled American … Read more

America and the West Should Invest More in the UN, Not Less

PAHO antimalaria campaign, Paraguay

Institutions of global governance are weak by design not default. As Singapore’s permanent representative in New York, I encountered senior members of the American establishment who lamented the United Nations’ poor condition. The explanation was the domination by the poor and weak states of Africa and Asia and the poor quality of its bureaucrats. To … Read more

 

WORLDVIEWS

Susan Rice’s Rise Beyond the United Nations

Susan E. Rice, US ambassador to the UN

JENA, Germany — Many rumors abound regarding the future of America’s top envoy at the United Nations, Susan E. Rice. While she is still working as the United States ambassador to the UN, some media reports are predicting that she will become President Obama’s next national security adviser, succeeding Thomas E. Donilon. As to who … Read more

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

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