WORLDVIEWS

When Is an Attack on UN Peacekeepers a War Crime and When Is It Not?

The recent attack by a militia on the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which seven peacekeepers were killed, highlighted a question that the Security Council has hesitated to confront for years. What are the consequences when UN peacekeeping missions become parties to the conflict? The Security Council responded to the latest attacks on Monusco, as the … Read more

GEOPOLITICS

Kofi Annan’s Path to Humanitarian Intervention

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who died on Aug. 18, in Switzerland, was deeply committed to peace and the UN Charter, as well as human rights and humanitarian action. He led a debate about harmonizing these principles and rebalancing the sovereignty of countries with the rights of people within them. During his 10 years as secretary-general, which … Read more

Kofi Annan, 80, a Popular UN Secretary-General From Africa, Is Dead

Kofi Annan, the seventh and probably the most popular and widely respected secretary-general the United Nations has ever known, died unexpectedly in Bern, Switzerland, early on Saturday morning, Aug. 18. His death, reportedly from leukemia, followed what initial reports described only as a short illness. He led the UN for two terms, from 1997 through … Read more

TOPIC: WOMEN

A Taste of Running for Political Office Has Left This UN Retiree Ready for More

ORANGE, Conn. — Margaret Novicki is a 22-year veteran of the United Nations, having served in various regions in Africa and as the director of strategic communications at UN headquarters in New York. Upon her retirement in 2017 at age 62 from an eventful, complicated career at the UN, Novicki, an American, ran as a … Read more

NIKKI HALEY WATCH

Will Trump’s Musical Chairs Leave Nikki Haley Without a Seat?

Nikki Haley insisted all along that she had no desire to become Donald Trump’s secretary of state. But with Mike Pompeo, the CIA director, in line to succeed Rex Tillerson as the State Department’s top dog, Haley may soon find that her thinking was a big mistake. Haley asked Trump right from the start not … Read more

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WORLDVIEWS

Who Says the UN Is Boring? Intrigue Always Abounds in Its Inner Core

Bureaucracies do not have a great reputation, and the United Nations bureaucracy is no exception. They are seen as inefficient, cumbersome and rigid, adjectives that are also routinely associated with the UN Secretariat. At best considered a “necessary evil,” bureaucracies tend to attract scorn rather than analysis. The UN Secretariat, however, is different. Although it … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Four Easy Steps to Reform the UN Human Rights Council

Problems encircling the United Nations Human Rights Council are verging toward a major crisis. The same crisis had engulfed its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights, leading the secretary-general at the time, Kofi Annan, to call to replace it with the Council. But the same problems affecting the former Commission now affect its successor, and … Read more

TOPIC: WOMEN

Where Are the Female Leaders at the UN? Gender Bias Persists

The exhibition “HERStory: A Celebration of Leading Women in the United Nations” was held at the Unesco headquarters in Paris this summer, after it made its debut in New York last year. Designed to showcase the contributions of female leaders throughout the UN’s history, it featured such high-profile personalities as Margaret Anstee, the first woman … Read more

TOPIC: WOMEN

Alice Hecht, Longtime UN Career Officer and Chief of Protocol, Dies at 67

Alice Hecht, who died in New York City on Dec. 28, 2016, at age 67, after a 35-year career at the United Nations, was most well known there for her role as chief of protocol. Appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006, Hecht’s job was to guide presidents and popes to UN daises and to … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The Syrian War and the Refugee Crisis: Spawning the Rise of the Far Right

The butterfly effect teaches us that seemingly insignificant actions can have enormous future consequences. A tiny pair of fluttering wings can disturb the air in a way that helps trigger a hurricane halfway around the world. Witness Syria, where the Arab Spring made its debut in 2011 in the form of a tame wave of … Read more

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The $64,000 Question: Can the UN Survive the Trump Era?

Celebrators at the opening of the New UN House in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, on Nov. 26, 2016.

The United Nations will swear in António Guterres as its ninth secretary-general on Dec. 12, when the organization will be only weeks away from the inauguration of Donald Trump and the potentially most threatening, hostile political opposition to the UN ever assembled in Washington, D.C. The UN will have to be prepared to respond and … Read more

TOPIC: WOMEN

Being UN Deputy Secretary-General: Louise Fréchette Recounts Her Experience

Louise Fréchette, a Canadian, was the first United Nations deputy secretary-general. Appointed by Kofi Annan, she took office in March 1998, bringing to the job qualifications that exceeded those of most UN secretaries-general. She had spent a quarter-century in the Canadian foreign service, including as ambassador to several Latin American counties and to the UN; … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The UN’s Three Main Bodies Are Failing to Do Their Job

  “Those who seek to bestow legitimacy must themselves embody it, and those who invoke international law must themselves submit to it.” So spoke United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the 59th session of the UN General Assembly on Sept. 22, 2004. Annan’s statement should be understood to apply to the principal organs of the … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

How the UN Public Information Office Works

BERLIN — From the beginning, the member states of the United Nations understood the great significance of efficient communication: in resolution 13(I) of Feb. 13, 1946, the General Assembly established the Department of Public Information in the Secretariat and emphasized: “The United Nations cannot achieve the purposes for which it has been created unless the … Read more

A New Plan to Recruit Candidates for UN Secretary-General Emerges

For the first time in United Nations history, officially announced candidates for the secretary-general race, underway this year, will be interviewed publicly in the General Assembly along the lines of a standard democratic election. Mogens Lykketoft, the Assembly president and a Dane, is pushing the “unprecedented transparent process,” as he put it, in selecting the … Read more

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Understanding Burundi as It Implodes Again

Carolyn McAskie is a Canadian expert in international development who was awarded the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest honors, in 2007. She headed the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African country of Burundi from 2004 to 2006, when a new political system was created and hopes were high. Later, as … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The UN’s Global Compact: Ending ‘Business as Usual’?

Imagine a world in which promoting women’s empowerment in the workplace were as important to companies as ensuring high profit margins or preventing the degradation of water supplies. Such was the imaginative thrust of Kofi Annan’s 1999 speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos. In its wake, the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s … Read more

BOOKS

The Surprising Confessions of a Peacemaker

When war breaks out, you would think the easy answer would be to send in a United Nations peacekeeping mission, right? In fact, it is fairly rare and extraordinarily challenging to pull such a mission together. Even then, the mission can end up a flop, making little or no difference as the years crawl by. … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Ban Ki-moon’s Travels: Escape Hatch or Act of Diplomacy?

BERLIN — If you take a close look at the public schedule of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, it becomes evident that he travels a lot to member states, even more than his charismatic and most active predecessor Kofi Annan. Why does Ban travel so often? Some critics suggest that Ban wants to distract public … Read more

No Room for LGBT Rights in the New UN Development Goals

Before this year ends, the United Nations will have committed itself and its 193 member governments to a new 15-year development strategy to be hailed as a blueprint for ending poverty, expanding social justice and strengthening equality. Equality for whom is the question. Missing by deliberate design from the new plan, called the Sustainable Development … Read more

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