COVID-19

The UN Security Council Is MIA as the Coronavirus Ravages the World

Although much of the world is closing temporarily due to the rapid spread of Covid-19, the United Nations Security Council must stay open — meeting physically if possible and virtually if not — in order to fulfill its Charter responsibilities not only to address the threats posed by the pandemic but also to respond to … Read more

COVID-19

In a Crisis, Does the UN Have a Leadership Succession Plan?

António Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, continues to go into the UN headquarters building in New York City to work — even as Covid-19 races throughout the region. “Right now, Guterres is probably the safest man on the planet,” said a former UN official familiar with the security protocol. “He’s working at an empty UN, … Read more

Reading the US Presidential Tea Leaves: Do the Candidates Even Care About the UN?

President Trump was at the United Nations last fall telling world leaders that “the future does not belong to globalists” when Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the United States House of Representatives would launch an inquiry into his possible impeachment. It was the same General Assembly whose derisive laughter at Trump’s boast a year before of … Read more

Trump vs. Iran: What’s the UN for, Anyway?

President Trump, Vice President Pence and advisors

Donald Trump may have dodged the big one in the Middle East for now. But recent events make clear that the president and his tragic idea of leadership may yet drag the United States into a major war with Iran — and there’s good reason to believe it wouldn’t be pretty. He may still dazzle … Read more

The Topic Was the UN Charter, but the Backdrop Was a Just-Averted US-Iran War

Six days after the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran by the United States and high-wire threats sent between President Trump and top officials of Iran, the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council and other nations finally had a chance to speak about the fight in an open forum. As fears … Read more

SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY

Vietnam’s Pivotal Month as Leader of the Security Council and of Asean for 2020

With tensions becoming more and more serious in the Middle East and with two crucial leadership roles to play internationally, diplomats in Hanoi are probably working hard to make sure Vietnam’s big diplomatic month of January is a success. Vietnam’s diplomacy has arrived at a critical moment, as it presides over the United Nations Security … Read more

BOOKS

Why This American Still Cherishes the UN

Americans should know more about the life of William vanden Heuvel, a former United States envoy to the United Nations office in Geneva in the late 1970s. His career of social and political activism has touched on the people of his country on issues ranging from prison reform to school desegregation — but especially on … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Justice for Darfur Is Critical for a Peaceful Future in Sudan 

Women from North Darfur performing a traditional dance

The people of Sudan finally ousted President Omar al-Bashir from power, on April 11, 2019. The people of Sudan must now transfer al-Bashir to The Hague to stand trial in the International Criminal Court, which, more than 10 years ago, indicted him for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur — including the … Read more

SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY

Kuwait’s Priority for the UN Security Council Presidency: Iraq and the Mideast

Still, this small oil-rich Arab country has an agenda of its own that it wants to fulfill as it ends its last presidency on the Council — in probably decades — on a strong note. For June, Kuwait plans to work on the topic of missing persons in armed conflict, an issue that touches its own … Read more

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

The UN’s Combat Troops in the Congo: ‘They Were Not Supposed to Die’

United Nations peacekeepers working for the mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were killed by a militia in a jungle in North Kivu Province on Nov. 15, leaving seven soldiers dead: six Malawians and one Tanzanian. Ten were injured. Twelve members of the Congolese armed forces were also killed, as national forces and … Read more

NIKKI HALEY WATCH

Speaking Loudly Even While Wielding the Big Stick

Whatever else came out of the latest American-led strikes on Syrian chemical weapon sites, it put on display rare signs of diplomatic skill on the part of the Trump administration, even if those signs first surfaced at the Pentagon rather than at the White House, the United Nations or Washington’s rudderless Department of State. After … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

With UN Security Council Reform, Bigger Is Not Better

Much ado — during 25 years of fruitless negotiations — has been made about the need for the United Nations General Assembly to achieve more equitable geographical representation in the UN Security Council. Article 23(1) of the UN Charter, however, also requires the Assembly, in electing the nonpermanent members of the Council, to pay due … Read more

Thank You, UN, for Validating Indigenous People

Indigenous people, several millions of them, live in more than 80 countries and have long suffered, and continue to suffer, from injustices. Until 1981, they had no global forum in which to appear to plead for justice and for respect of their inalienable rights. That year, the director of the United Nations Division of Human … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Unprepared and Unprotected: UN Peacekeepers’ Lives Must Be Saved

The 15 deaths and 43 injuries to United Nations troop personnel in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in December would not, sadly, have surprised those of us who have served in peace enforcement missions with the UN. These are difficult and dangerous places, where rebels have many advantages of … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Leave the UN’s Human-Rights Treaty System Alone

The United Nations Charter requires each and every member state to discharge its obligations by faithfully carrying out norms of legally binding international human-rights law. These may be norms of international customary law, those contained in treaties or those flowing from general principles of international law. The human-rights provisions in the Charter were amplified by … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

After 50 Years of UN Sanctions, Is the System Broken?

With only few of the current United Nations sanctions cases accomplishing their political objectives, it is not unreasonable to wonder why the system seems broken. As the 50th anniversary of the first use of this important political tool is duly noted, the short answer is that nothing is wrong with sanctions. The problem is with the … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Was America’s Attack on Syria Legal? An Asian Expert’s View

The images of civilians, particularly children, being asphyxiated by chemical substances and dying in Idlib Province of Syria on April 4 were a game changer. Judging that the chemical attack was carried out by the Syrian government, the United States, two days later, attacked Syria’s Shayrat airbase with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. The US action … Read more

NIKKI HALEY WATCH

On a Light Note: 10 Tips for Nikki Haley, New US Ambassador to UN

A recent email sent out by a member of the United States Mission to the United Nations, then tweeted and possibly subtweeted, contained the following statement: This is to let you know that Ambassador Haley will be spending her first few months learning about the UN and Security Council and its members. She will not … Read more

In the US Congress, a Campaign Opens to ‘Punish’ the UN

It was inevitable that a triumphant Republican government in Washington, D.C., would sooner or later launch an assault on the United Nations. A near-unanimous UN Security Council resolution on Dec. 23 condemning Israeli settlements on Palestinians’ land provided the trigger. That the administration of President Barack Obama stood aside with an abstention, allowing a 14-0 … Read more

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