WORLDVIEWS

Take Two: Arms Trade Treaty Talks Resume

Control Arms Coalition

The second act of the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations has opened at the United Nations this week. Like any good drama, these talks, which began on March 18, are sure to feature tense moments and plenty of controversy, although many people involved in the process are optimistic that this act will deliver a final agreement. … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

UN Women’s Conference Agreement Is Under Assault

UN Commission on the STatus of Women

As the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women’s annual conference enters its final week, the political agendas of different countries are reflected in the deep divisions over how to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls, the theme this year. Furious arguments are going on over the use of such language as … 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

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

 

WORLDVIEWS

Dodging International Migration at the United Nations

Filipino laborers

Although the United Nations has not shied away from convening global conferences on aging, children, environment, population, trade, human settlements and women in the last decades, it has never held a conference on international migration. This lapse contrasts sharply with the fact that international migration has risen to the top of political agendas at all … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The Quest for Peace and Calm in the Pacific

Socotra Rock

KANDY, Sri Lanka — As the focus of global political and economic power shifts to the Asia-Pacific region and the United States feels compelled to pivot its strategic forces from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the relationship among major East Asian countries acquires critical importance. Residual cold war disputes across the Atlantic are likely to … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Germany’s ‘Added Value’ to the Security Council

Peter Wittig, German ambassador to the UN

  BERLIN — When Germany began its two-year tenure in 2011 as a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council, its diplomats promised to hold a debate on climate change and to improve the protection of children in armed conflict, to name just the top items on their list. Now in December 2012, with … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Protecting Civilians: How It Works

A girl in Freetown, Sierra Leone

CANBERRA, Australia — A steady rise has been occurring in the last two centuries in the proportion of civilians killed in armed conflict, either from direct violence or conflict-related hunger and disease. The international community has responded to the calls to protect innocent victims by developing two parallel principles, the protection of civilians and the … Read more

 

WORLDVIEWS

Why the International Women’s Rights Treaty Matters

US Senate Women

The time has come for the United States to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, commonly known as Cedaw, particularly after women voters asserted themselves so effectively in recent US elections. The convention obliges signatories to “ensure the full development and advancement of women” and expressly extends its … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The Last Throes of the Death Penalty?

Texas Moratorium Network

Mores in societies change over the years. While slavery, torture and public executions were once a global phenomenon, and foot binding and deadly duels were deeply entrenched aspects of regional cultures, they are no longer considered acceptable by the international community. In line with what the United States Supreme Court once called “evolving standards of … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The UN Arms Trade Treaty Must Survive

Eyes on Rights campaign

Nobody ever believed that establishing an international Arms Trade Treaty would be uncomplicated. Discussions taking place this month will determine the treaty’s future through a vote in the United Nations General Assembly next week. The treaty’s draft text was nearly adopted in July by UN member states, but those talks came to an abrupt halt … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The Deadly Nuclear Game Continues, 50 Years After Cuba

Security Council Meets on Cuba 1962

KANDY, Sri Lanka — The headlines in the newspapers and on BBC radio – even for young man in distant Sri Lanka – were ominous as they reported the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 – 50 years ago. There was no television in my country at the time to make the situation more tense; … Read more

 

WORLDVIEWS

Mourning a Diplomat Who Had the Right Stuff

Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens of Libya

The United States House Homeland Security Committee chairman called for Susan Rice, America’s ambassador to the United Nations, to resign. A top-ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee derided “Benghazi-gate,” the name he uses in charging a cover-up of the facts surrounding the Sept. 11 deaths this year in Libya of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Fighting Corruption Can Be a Fatal Act

Indigenous Pacchanta in southeast Peru.

WASHINGTON — In 2000, I had the privilege to present Lasantha Wickramatunga, from Sri Lanka, with the Transparency International annual Integrity Award. Wickramatunga was a prominent and tenacious newspaperman with the courage to ask tough questions, call for government accountability and expose corruption. On Jan. 8, 2009, he was driving to work when eight unidentified … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The Assange Affair and a UN Diplomatic Treaty

Julian Assange of Wikileaks

  KANDY, Sri Lanka — The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may be languishing in a windowless room at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, surrounded outside by a British police posse poised to extradite him to Sweden for questioning about his role in possible sexual crimes, if he dares to leave the premises. Yet last week, … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Aung San Suu Kyi, of Burma, Making No ‘Easy Promises’

Aung San Suu Kyi at the United Nations, Sept. 21, 2012

WASHINGTON — Though the national elections in the United States loom less than seven weeks away, partisan bickering was agreeably suspended for one day last week here, when the Burmese dissident, Aung San Suu Kyi, was honored by top Republicans and Democrats with the US Congressional Gold Medal. The award had originally been made to … 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

WORLDVIEWS

‘Songs of the Village’

Fatherless children in eastern Congo

The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been experiencing cyclical wars since 1996, when the so-called war of liberation began. The fighting started in South Kivu Province and spread throughout the whole country, then called Zaire, until Mobutu Sese Seko, the Congolese dictator, was toppled less than a year later. Since then, … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Arms Trade Treaty Talks Call a Time-Out

Control Arms Coalition at the Arms Trade Treaty talks

Good things take time. Evidently, 10 years of advocacy efforts led by a group of Nobel laureates and an international nongovernmental organization campaign, five years of consultations and preparatory work and a month of negotiations at the United Nations in New York in July wasn’t quite enough time for the 193 members of the United … 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

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