Days after Richard Grenell was recently named by President Trump as the United States’ acting national director of intelligence — America’s chief spy — a media site reported that Grenell had worked for an Eastern European politician whom the US has accused of corruption and barred from the country. Grenell, who is in the job … Read more Another Eastern European Nation Gets Tangled in US Politics
For the last decade, Western democracies and human-rights defenders have been locked in a tense struggle with authoritarian great powers at the United Nations. Since 2009, Russia and China have waged a highly successful campaign to dismantle the international human-rights system, particularly through the Human Rights Council. The two countries have made strides especially after … Read more How the US Enabled Aggressions by China and Russia at the UN
WASHINGTON, D.C. — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres used his annual State of the World speech to the General Assembly last month to outline his 2020 priorities. He stressed four threats to progress in the 21st century: growing geostrategic tensions and mass violence in fragile states, creating an unprecedented refugee crisis; the climate catastrophe; rising mistrust in … Read more Will the UN-75 Declaration Signify More Than a Birthday Party?
Last month, the world was struck by an unusual image — that of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi — standing in court to defend and deny genocide. What was striking was not only what she and Myanmar’s legal team said but also what wasn’t said: the total failure of Myanmar to … Read more Myanmar’s Silence on Rape Against Rohingya Is Cruel and Dangerous
GENEVA — Like his predecessors, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has been pushing a reform program to help the organization adjust to the demands of contemporary global governance. Over nearly 75 years, the UN has innovated and adapted. At first, humanitarian assistance was not envisaged to go beyond the needs of people displaced by global … Read more Can UN Development Be Reformed? Not at This Rate
The Christmas spirit finally found me drinking whisky on a rooftop in Kabul. Given my multinational background — I’m from Boston but my father came from Iraq and my mother from London — it’s not surprising that I chose a career in foreign affairs. When people learn I spent nearly a decade in Afghanistan, they … Read more My Beautiful Christmas in Kabul
ROME, Italy — The clock is ticking for South Sudan. Many powerful players in the international community have expressed openly their disappointment at the reluctance of South Sudan power-brokers to resolve their violence-prone country. Meanwhile, the people of South Sudan are clearly signaling their readiness for peace and their support for new approaches that could … Read more For South Sudan, the Promise of Full Dialogue Lies Ahead
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For more than a year, a BBC television team went undercover at the University of Lagos and the University of Ghana, where young female students are routinely extorted by professors. They are vulnerable because they either seek to gain admission to the universities or to secure good grades to allow them to … Read more ‘Sextortion’: The Worst Form of Corruption Across the Globe
As protection of human rights seems to be sliding everywhere, the international human-rights system has responded by focusing on national implementation, to ensure that states’ international commitments are translated into meaningful changes felt by people on the ground. While often overlooked, parliaments can provide a critical link between global agreements and domestic progress on human-rights … Read more It’s Time to Increase Parliaments’ Engagement With Human Rights
VIENNA, Austria — Ensconced near the Danube River in this European city is the headquarters of the world’s single-most important means of ensuring safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear energy. Created in 1957, four years after United States President Dwight Eisenhower delivered his famous “Atoms for Peace” speech at the United Nations, the International Atomic … Read more The New Boss at the UN’s Nuclear-Power Watchdog Is Inheriting Many Problems
The recent case lodged by The Gambia with the International Court of Justice against Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya is the first time that rape will be prosecuted as genocide at the court, which is based in The Hague. The case has the potential to enhance feminist international law, while reinforcing the need to carry … Read more Rape Prosecution Must Drive the New Rohingya Genocide Court Case
At the 33d summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore last year, the issue of Myanmar’s Rakhine/Rohingya crisis was high on the agenda. The chairman’s closing statement expressed the group’s readiness to support Myanmar in repatriating refugees by conducting a needs-assessment overview in Rakhine State. The Muslim Rohingya had fled ethnic persecution … Read more Myanmar’s Neighbors Must Build Trust Among Rohingya Refugees
A stunning policy reversal by the United States regarding Western Sahara occurred last week, but it didn’t make many headlines. What happened? When the United Nations Security Council adopted a new resolution on Western Sahara, renewing the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission —Minurso — there for another 12 months, the action meant America’s ambitions … Read more Big Powers at the UN Are Hanging Western Sahara Out to Dry
Niemat Ahmadi, the founder and director of the Darfur Women Action Group, has a plan for the new Sudan. The Strategic Framework for Sustainable Change was presented to the country’s prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, during his participation in the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly in September — only three weeks after he … Read more A Plan From Darfuri Women to Make Sudan’s New Democracy Work
In early 1974, fresh out of journalism school, I walked into the offices of the newly created Federal Energy Office in Washington and asked for a job. Within days I was back — a freshly minted writer-editor in the public affairs office of an agency launched in response to an oil embargo imposed on the … Read more Why Wait Until Trump Starts Talking to the Paintings?
Governments and other parties involved in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals missed an important opportunity to provide more impetus to the goals’ success at the recent opening session of the General Assembly, held in September. By engaging largely in self-congratulation, with few exceptions, the three-minute speeches by world leaders at the United Nations Sustainable Development … Read more Global Leaders Missed a Crucial Chance to Propel the SDGs, Especially on Good Governance
Fifty-eight years ago, Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations secretary-general at the time, set off on a perilous journey across the African heartland. Taking off at 4:51 P.M. from Léopoldville, in the capital of the newly independent Congo, he was due to meet the leader of the secessionist Katanga province. The venue chosen was Ndola, a … Read more Stalling the UN Report on Dag Hammarskjold’s Death Is Regrettable
In 2012, after almost five years as chief of the video unit in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I reached the compulsory UN retirement age of 62 and had to leave. I loved my work, but after four decades working in film and television production on five continents … Read more In Projecting the UN Through New Media, Is Quality at Stake?
Global governance is slipping away from the United Nations. Whether it is in managing the Internet, where the UN’s governing structure offers only an advisory role for governments; or climate change, where the most exciting actions are now corporate-led partnerships outside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; or the Gates Foundation-sponsored Gavi, The Vaccine … Read more They Call It Multistakeholderism. Where Does That Leave the UN?
Every time the budget committee of the United Nations meets, as it did in June, child-protection advocates enter a familiar existential crisis: will the United States and China cut UN budgets specifically allocated to specialists on child protection in peacekeeping missions? I am often asked by people in the UN why a child-rights advocate like … Read more Dear UN Security Council: Remember to Protect the Children