A Hindu-Muslim Friendship That Helped Shape How the World Measured Poverty

They were two young men studying at Cambridge University when they met in the wake of the bloody Partition of British India. One was a Kashmiri-born Muslim and the other a Hindu-born Bengali. But the two, Mahbub ul Haq of Pakistan and Amartya Sen from India, soon formed an intellectual bond and deep friendship. “It … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Advice to António Guterres: A Leaner UN Could Be a Better UN

GENEVA — Whether or not he is a fan of Chinese characters, António Guterres will have to discover the double meaning of a crisis as opportunity. United Nations corridors on First Avenue in New York are buzzing with anxiety about the possibility of impending cuts in funding from the United States, with hints from a … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Ironing Out the Kinks in the UN’s New Human-Rights Initiative

BERLIN — In December 2013, Jan Eliasson, the United Nations deputy secretary-general, went on a selling spree. In a series of briefings, he presented a new initiative to UN member states and to the rest of the world. In his address to the General Assembly, Eliasson said, not mincing words: “In improving the way we … Read more

Ameerah Haq: ‘I’ve Had a Great Run — 40 Years’

Ameerah Haq, who will serve as vice chair of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s newly appointed high-level panel reviewing United Nations peace operations, has strong views on putting torn countries back together. Haq, a UN official about to retire after nearly four decades in the organization, began her career in the farming fields and villages of Asia … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The Business and Politics of Good Samaritans

Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan

“Humanitarian” and “business” are juxtaposed in the title of my new book, “Humanitarian Business,” for two reasons: provocation and accuracy. It jars those who idealize the humanitarian enterprise because the adjective has uncontested positive connotations while the noun is associated with wheeling and dealing and thus at odds with the self-image of true believers. The … Read more

Two Faces of Burma Coming to New York

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader, leaves Westminster Hall.

It may have been a coincidence or maybe not. When the 67th United Nations General Assembly session opens in New York in mid-September, the president of Burma, Thein Sein, is expected to speak in what is still called, quaintly, the “general debate.” At almost the same time, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize … 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

A Top Economist Faults UNDP for Outmoded Policies

UNDP literacy program

In a broadside against the United Nations Development Program, Jagdish Bhagwati, professor of economics at Columbia University and an adviser to the government of India and numerous international bodies, argues that the UN’s premier agency has declined in staff quality as it clings to outdated policies that actually harm poor countries. At the heart of … Read more

Easing Afghan Women’s Burdens With a Hotline

UNDP women's hotline

Sanjar Qiam can readily recite examples of domestic abuse in his country, Afghanistan. “Just last week we received a call from neighbors,” Qiam, the director of a Kabul-based communications business, Gandeeray, recalled in a phone interview from his home in London, where he moved a few months ago. “‘There is a family,’ they said. “The … Read more

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