Financing the UN: Payers, Pipers and Tunes

GENEVA — Change is in the air again on First Avenue. Among numerous reform options being bandied about, none will be more consequential than those on financing the United Nations system. There are the sledgehammer arguments: drastic slashes in funding by Washington and other donors could precipitate dramatic change. As we have argued in these … Read more

NIKKI HALEY WATCH

US Pressures UN Chief to Take the Executive Reins

António Guterres just laid out his first major reform plan for the United Nations through a report presenting concrete suggestions embedded in wonky language and hyperbole. One recommendation that stands out is the emphasis by Guterres, the secretary-general, to reassert his role as the chief executive of the UN. It is that emphasis on centralizing … Read more

Another First for Candidates for UN Secretary-General? Tweeting

This is not your grandfather’s election cycle. Will this be the year a woman is elected to one of the highest political positions in the world? What’s up with the surprise candidate gaining unexpected momentum? Can any candidate truly blend the need for the best-qualified administration with gender parity? It is unequivocal that this year’s … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

UN Governance and the War on Drugs: Time for Change

“A drug-free world — we can do it!” was the tragically misguided slogan of the last major United Nations summit on drug control in 1998. UN member states will soon come together in the General Assembly, from April 19 to 21, for another try at getting drug control right. There is good cause to wonder … Read more

Eastern Europe Presses Its Claim to the Secretary-General’s Office  

In 70 years of United Nations history, Eastern Europe has been the only regional group in the organization that has never filled the position of secretary-general. Western Europe has had three secretaries-general; Asia and Africa, two each; and Latin America and the Caribbean, one. The 23 nations of the Eastern European region, determined to win … Read more

For Elephants in Zimbabwe, a Deeply Troubling Present and Future

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Elephants across the African continent face poaching, loss of habitable land and food supplies and culling. When World Wildlife Day was marked this month, the United Nations General Assembly discussed wildlife crime across the globe, including the threat to elephants, which are declining in number throughout Africa. Here in Zimbabwe, they face … Read more

Will Statisticians Get the Last Word on the UN’s New Development Goals?

There are three things you need to know about the negotiations over the United Nations’ next set of global development goals, which will be adopted by world leaders at the General Assembly this September and remain in effect for the next 15 years: Almost everybody agrees that the proposed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and … Read more

Now Is the Time for a Female Secretary-General, Says a New Campaign [Video]

Convinced that after 70 years it is time to choose a woman for the United Nations’ top job of secretary-general, a new movement led by an academic spcialist on the organization has been assembled to formally support the election of a woman for the job. The current secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, a Korean, finishes his second … Read more

Human Development That Sidetracks a Woman’s Power of Choice

The 2014 United Nations Human Development Report appeared at the end of July wrapped around the title “Sustaining Human Progress,” a goal that moves beyond meeting the targets that can measure achievement at any given time but cannot promise continuity or permanent improvement. The report’s subtitle, “Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience,” suggests how to plan … Read more

GOINGS-ON

Major New Staff Appointments at the UN and Departures

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, has appointed at least a dozen new people to high-level positions — including five women — primarily in Africa in the last few months, while the organization also loses some executives. Three new force commanders have been named for various peacekeeping missions as well. At Unicef, Anthony Lake, an … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The UN Development Program: A New Crisis or a New Opportunity?

GENEVA — For those with longer memories, the latest dip in resources for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the staff cutbacks and restructuring announced by its administrator, Helen Clark, in May are merely the onset of another cycle, just in time for the agency’s 50th anniversary but part of its history since its … Read more

Is a Better UN System Possible? Global Experts Respond to an Independent Survey

An unusual survey of 3,400 people worldwide who know the United Nations has found strong support for some basic rethinking over the next decade on the organization’s work in development. Among the recommendations, over two-thirds of respondents suggested adding more nongovernmental representatives to governing bodies and better consolidating both organizational representation and programs in countries … Read more

The UN Has Lost the Aid-Effectiveness Race: What Is to Be Done?

A UN-supported market in Lebanon.

Recent events have confirmed that the United Nations has a deep reservoir of good will worldwide. But its reputation is undermined by the ineffectiveness of its development assistance. UN agencies could improve their performance by implementing effective evaluations. However, the UN cannot be judged solely on the basis of its development assistance because the organization … Read more

Unraveling Sexual Violence in Costa Rica and Throughout Latin America

Memorial femicide protest in Chile

For the past three decades, Costa Rica has carried out progressive steps to reduce violence against women, a major inhibitor of human and economic development in the country and throughout Latin America. While the issue has garnered more attention among the general public in recent years, it remains intertwined in the fabric of Latin American … 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

The UN Development Program Should Revive What It Does Best

Helen Clark of UNDP

Constant reform has characterized the United Nations Development Program throughout its existence, say the authors of two recent books on the agency. Change bespeaks an organization ready to adapt but also fundamentally uncertain about its proper role. It teeters between two sets of tensions. The first tension is between being both coordinator and competitor in … 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

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

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

The Glory of Self-Learning, Discovered by Children in India

An Indian student in front of a Hole in the Wall education kiosk.

Imagine a new world of innovative, inexpensive and successful learning, where dusty streets in rural towns in developing countries are lined with self-powered computer kiosks and children from poor neighborhoods have the same ability to work with new technology as children in richer areas do. That dynamic is the goal of new education policies put … Read more

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