The Times Picks a UN Bureau Chief as Syria Arms Destruction Begins

OPCW team arriving in Damascus 1-10-13

The New York Times has assigned Somini Sengupta to be its new full-time bureau chief at the United Nations. Sengupta replaces Neil MacFarquhar, who left the position this summer after five years and will be based in Moscow for the newspaper. The announcement regarding Sengupta has not been formally made yet by the paper because she … Read more

Where’s the Money? Funds for Millennium Development Goals Lag

Garbage dump in Bamako, Mali

With 827 days to go until the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals — the United Nations’ flagship agenda for global development — the buzzword at the General Assembly’s annual opening debate in New York this week was “acceleration.” A clear sense of urgency dominated many talks, particularly as the world body prepares to draw … Read more

For UN Member Nations, ‘Vulnerability Is a Global Phenomenon’

Hassan Rouhani

The annual United Nations debate of the 68th General Assembly got off to a contentious start on Sept. 24 with pointedly worded but divergent speeches by Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, and Barack Obama, the president of the United States. The two countries traditionally kick off the annual debate, held every September in New York for … Read more

The Post-2015 UN Development Agenda

Rosario, Carite in the Philippines

One of the success stories of the United Nations has been its capacity to serve as a forum to agree on global development goals. They include not only those set in the UN Development Decades, but also in the series of UN conferences convened since the 1970s and particularly the series of summits that started … Read more

The Importance of Recruiting Midwives

Afghan midwives

About 350,000 women die while pregnant or giving birth every year, up to 2 million newborns die within the first 24 hours of life, and 2.6 million stillbirths occur annually says the United Nations Population Fund. A push to train more midwives worldwide and to increase their role in preventing the persistently high number of … Read more

New Development Goals, Plus Ça Change?

“If we want things to change, some things will have to stay as they are.” This inversion of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa‘s aphorism summarizes a key finding of a recent global survey on the future development goals. A select group of development commentators favors maintaining most of the familiar Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015. … Read more

For Many Latin American Women, Abuse Never Lets Up

Bolivian Women in Oruro

Latin American and Caribbean nations have pulled ahead of most other developing regions on numerous measures of economic growth and human progress in recent years. The region has one of the world’s lowest poverty levels; hunger has been reduced to under 5 percent of the regional population; primary school enrollment rivals that of rich nations; … Read more

Gates and the British Government Seize the Lead for Family Planning

Birthing in Nepal

With the world population now growing faster than predicted only two years ago by the United Nations Population Division, a campaign to make family planning and the wider provision of contraceptives higher priorities in foreign aid policy after years of neglect has taken off. But it is largely being done outside the UN system, a … Read more

It’s Down to Latin America v. Africa to Lead UN Women

Alcinda Abreu, environment minister of Mozambique

After several months of public speculation at the United Nations, two candidates are now in tight contention for the executive director post of UN Women, the main agency tasked with promoting the treatment and rights of women worldwide since it began operating in January 2011. Rebeca Grynspan, 57, is one contender. Since 2010, she has … Read more

A Less Peaceful World, Marginally

Afghan children visiting the US

Over the last year, the world has become a less peaceful place, and although the rate of decline was not tremendous, the deterioration has been steady since 2008, says a new report, the Global Peace Index. The factors behind the negative trend include a rise in the number of internal conflicts, a widening gap in … Read more

Today’s Youth, Facing Mostly Grim Futures

Vocational training center north of Amman, Jordan

No group in the global population has more at stake after the Millennium Development Goals‘ deadline of 2015 than children and young people. That would seem obvious, but predictions vary widely on what kind of a world these young people will inherit and how they are prepared for whatever happens. The Population Reference Bureau, with … Read more

Poverty Experts Want New Thinking on Development Goals

A colonial-era home in Bolama, an island off Guinea-Bissau

If 2015 comes and goes with a significant number of Millennium Development Goals failing to meet their targets, questions will abound over whom or what to blame. There will also be skepticism over reports that a few of the goals have already been met with 100 percent success. In general, specialists in development have already … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Eight Ways to End Poverty Now

Infant in Niger

NEW HAVEN — As the Millennium Development Goals reach their deadline of 2015, the United Nations, international policy partners and governments are already tasked with creating a set of new goals to continue to work toward ending poverty worldwide. They ought to learn four crucial lessons from the MDG experience: 1. The targets and monitoring … Read more

Signals of Greater Times Buoy Developing Nations

A displaced person in Mali.

For the developing world, the news in the 2013 United Nations Human Development Report is almost all good. (More on that “almost” later.) The title of the report, The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World, sets the tone. New players with global clout, increased South-South trade and investment, strengthening regional institutions … 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

Despite Hard Times, Partnerships in Development Progress

A mall in Manila

While the recent global financial crisis has affected numerous targets meant to measure progress on the Millennium Development Goals, the blow might logically be expected to fall heaviest on No. 8, which calls for global partnerships in aid, trade, debt relief and the sharing of new technologies. Surprisingly, given financial constraints, there have been some … Read more

Epidemics and Fake Drugs Hurt Global Health Improvements

Polio vaccination team crosses the Ganges in India

A viral illness in Cambodia that killed scores of children this summer is a potent reminder that improving global health is not only a matter of measuring success against known diseases but also a constant battle to contain new ones and ensure that medications are safe. As cheaper generic drugs or reduced prices on rich-world … 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

GOINGS-ON

Top New UN Assignments, and Syria Deputy Envoy Leaving

Adama Dieng, the registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, has been named the United Nations secretary-general’s special adviser on the prevention of genocide. Dieng, a Senegalese, replaces Francis Deng of Sudan, who has been in the post since 2007 as an under secretary-general and is a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings Institution in … Read more

How Bad Is It? The UN Development System Needs an Overhaul

Voters in Libya

The clamor for United Nations reform has not stopped since its first days in 1945. Although ideas for changing the UN rise and fall each year, the newest calls for an overhaul involve development, one of the largest sectors of the world body’s system. With a Kafkaesque bureaucracy consisting of at least 30 agencies and … Read more

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