Getting to Know the UN Secretary-General Candidates Better: A Wrap-Up of Two New York Forums

When it comes to the United Nations, the word “debate” takes on a civilized bearing, with no relation to heated contests among many sides. Over two nights this week at different settings in New York, UN secretary-general candidates campaigning to fill the shoes of Ban Ki-moon in January 2017 debated publicly. One event, held at … Read more

As Women’s Rights Gain Broadly in Africa, the Global Picture Looks More Mixed

Hailing from various corners of the world, five activists gathered in New York recently to assess the progress of women’s rights globally — presenting a mixed picture of gains in Africa but threats to women’s rights through new programs countering violent extremism — just as the world celebrated International Women’s Day. The five women, representing … Read more

Can the UN’s SDGs Live Up to the Hype?

When the United Nations’ member states gave final approval at a special General Assembly session on Sept. 25 to the new global development policy, they were making a commitment to the most wide-ranging and ambitious plan ever attempted by the organization. Now the hard part begins as experts struggle to decide how to measure the … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

How Do Early-Modern Christian Conflicts Differ From Muslim Ones Now?

Is the conflict in the contemporary Muslim world so unusual, given that Christians were doing similar things 400 to 500 years ago? Is it really a phenomenon that involves “Muslims,” or is it more a matter of conflicts peculiar to a particular region? To what extent are the stakes in the conflict “religious,” as opposed … Read more

 

WORLDVIEWS

UN Climate Talks in Warsaw: What Is There to Negotiate?

Oxfam protesters, climate change conference, Warsaw

GENEVA — The persistence of climate change negotiators huddled together in Warsaw from over 190 countries is laudable. Even when countries are failing to reign in their greenhouse emissions that is causing a rise in global temperatures, the negotiations keep going. This is their 19th attempt under the Conference of Parties (COP) of the United … Read more

Rebuilding War-Torn States: Is the UN System Up to the Challenges?

Trellis planting in Afghanistan

Despite the peculiarities of each particular case, when civil wars or other chaos end, countries need to address the root causes of the conflict to make the fragile peace sustainable. In this context, countries need to establish public security; to create participatory political systems with good governance and respect for the rule of law and … Read more

The Failure of Mainstream Media to Cover the UN: Who’s to Blame?

Security Council Meeting-draft resolution on Syria chemical weapons

As media coverage of the United Nations dwindles and becomes more hyperfocused on geopolitics, the public learns less and less about the UN itself and how it operates. Who is to blame for the decreasing, narrow coverage — the press, a disinterested public or the UN itself? Barbara Crossette spoke on the subject at the … 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

 

Unido: What Does Its Future Hold?

Li Yong, director-general of Unido

At the end of 2012, Britain withdrew its membership from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, or Unido, the most recent of several major donor countries (including the United States and Canada) to do so. Although it has had strong support from many developing countries, Unido has for many years been regarded with skepticism by … Read more

The G20 vs. the UN Development System: Two Rivals Heat Up

G20 meeting at the Kremlin

The Group of 20 nations is more capable of replicating development success models than the United Nations manages to do within its own development ranks, representing a major challenge to the UN system and its second-most important agenda item after the maintenance of peace and security. The G20 also represents other challenges to the UN … Read more

Increased Private Financing to the UN Poses Benefits and Risks

Armenia National Disaster Observatory

As the United Nations relies more heavily on private sources of financing from foundations and corporations, it is important to look at how these changes affect the world body’s development aid channel. A new report examining how private donations to activities of the UN Development Program reveals both advantages — better management, for example — … Read more

Can the UN Regional Commissions Survive?

Solar panels in Croatia

Are the numerous United Nations regional commissions worthwhile? The first such commission sprang up in Europe, amid the aftermath of World War II, when a Polish-inspired resolution, passed by the General Assembly in 1947 to organize the recovery of the continent, led to the creation of the Economic Commission for Europe in Geneva. Soon, other … 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

GOINGS-ON

R2P Monitor, a New Digest, Details Populations in Danger

The Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect has released its first issue of a bimonthly digest, the R2P Monitor, reporting on populations in countries that could be at risk to mass-atrocity crimes. The mission of the center, part of the CUNY’s Ralphe Bunche Institute for International Studies, is to enable the responsibility to protect … Read more

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