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

WORLDVIEWS

What the General Assembly Wants From the Secretary-General

General Assembly president and Ban Ki-moon

BERLIN — When the United Nations has been fortunate to have a secretary-general who has great charisma and skills in settling conflicts, the world tends to consider him a figure with his own political status and powers. People like this idea because in difficult times they want to have an authoritative mediator, a moral guide. … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Russia’s Motives Behind the Syrian Conflict

Syrian refugees in Turkey

CANBERRA — China and Russia have cast three vetoes on draft United Nations Security Council resolutions aimed at tougher international responses to the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown on protestors and rebels in the last 16 months. China and Russia have drawn much flak for their resistance to UN efforts to end the mass killings in … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

A Sobering Conflict in an Unforgiving Desert

Interim president Dioncounda Traore of Mali

BAMAKO, Mali — At the bus station here in the capital this spring, tales of trepidation from besieged northern towns like Gao and Timbuktu, where Tuareg and Islamist rebels took power after a coup d’état in late March, were commonplace. “There’s no life there because there is no law,” one man said after arriving from … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

A Walk Between War and Peace for the UN Nuclear Agency

Yukiya Amano, the chief of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency. He is said to be closely allied with the United States and others in the West.

As international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and the boundaries between peaceful uses and weaponization intensify, the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, and its chief, Yukiya Amano, also grow more important. The agency has no choice but to balance all considerations carefully in the delicate tightrope. … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The UN’s Regional Groupings Need to Reshuffle the Deck

Brisbane UN Women

  CANBERRA — Come October, Australia will be competing with Finland and Luxembourg for two of the elected two-year seats open on the United Nations Security Council, starting next year. Why against Finland and Luxembourg and not others also contesting for the five seats up for grabs? Well might you ask. Most public debate on … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The Missing Russian Deliveryman

Bashar Jaafari

Kofi Annan was too diplomatic to say it in public, but his meaning as he “briefed” the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday on the continuing strife in Syria was unmistakable: Russia has failed. Annan’s plan to halt the fighting that has convulsed Syria for 15 months was crafted to Moscow’s specifications. It made no … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

For Syria, a Way Out That Still Involves the UN

Kofi Annan

CANBERRA — Syria is tearing itself apart. The minority Allawite-dominated regime of Bashar al-Assad remains determined to crush the opposition, which despises the regime so much it will not bow out. The Kofi Annan peace plan has seemingly failed, and the international community, or more specifically the United Nations Security Council, has found itself in … 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

WORLDVIEWS

General Assembly President: A Hardly Noticed, Yet Crucial Job

Jean Ping of Gabon

BERLIN — This United Nations top official is unknown to the broad public, yet he or she provides an important function: the president of the General Assembly. Most presidents have carried out the job inconspicuously and routinely, but a few presidents, the present one included, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar, have revealed stamina and political … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Horn of Africa: Recoveries Fail and Fail Again

Horn of Africa famine

WASHINGTON — News on the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa continues to flare in the media ever since famine struck last summer and lasted through the fall. Although the famine was declared resolved by the United Nations this winter, relieved by good harvests and a flood of food aid, a crisis could reoccur. … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

German UN Association Turns 60

German ambassador to the UN

BERLIN — Germany’s history as a member of the United Nations was complicated from the start. Its first step as a member began in 1973 with two German nations, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic (which was the Communist state). Their induction as separate countries under two different names happened only after … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

A Rockefeller Got It Right on US Population Growth

US population growth

With three major international United Nations conferences being planned or proposed to update the 1992 Rio earth summit, the 1994 Cairo population conference and the 1995 Beijing global meeting on women’s rights, the topic of population growth and its effect on the environment, human development and nations’ progress needs serious discussion. That should start in … Read more

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