Ban confronts a sordid chapter in U.N.’s history

Colum Lynch U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently sat down with some of his senior advisors to watch The Whistleblower, a controversial new film that depicts U.N. peacekeepers as participants in the illicit sex trade in Bosnia. Ban said he was "saddened" by the role of U.N. blue helmets in abuses linked to sex trafficking, … Continue reading

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

Libya’s tenure on the U.N. Human Rights Council is just the latest example of how the international system has been hijacked by the world’s most repressive regimes. BY DANIEL AYALON The recent unrest in parts of the Arab world has not only exposed the appalling lack of development in these countries, but also a number … Continue reading

The UN gets tough with Qaddafi

… fires his daughter from post as UN Goodwill Ambassador   By Colum Lynch  With Col. Moammar Qaddafi allegedly unleashing a campaign of mass killing against his people, the United Nations has decided it might be best to put a little distance between itself and the Libyan leader. At today’s noon briefing, U.N. Secretary General … Continue reading

Richard Falk: I’m not a 911 conspiracy theorist

By Colum Lynch Richard Falk, the U.N. rights researcher who provoked fury from the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki moon for saying the U.S. government and media had apparently covered up evidence challenging the official U.S. claim that the terrorist group Al Qaeda carried out the 911 terror attacks, says he was misunderstood. "I wish … Continue reading

Is your phone 4G? Ask the UN.

By David Bosco The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the oldest member of the United Nations family, tracing its origins back to 1865. You don’t last that long as an international organization without a healthy streak of pragmatism. That characteristic has been on display recently in a squabble over how to define wireless broadband technologies. … Continue reading

The Missing Assassin

A U.N. panel promises to shed new light on the unsolved murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. But one major suspect won’t be available to comment — he’s been killed, too. BY BARBARA SLAVIN As Lebanon braces for a U.N. tribunal to announce indictments in the 2005 assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, one key … Continue reading

Is a UN Internet takeover looming? Not quite

By Nate Anderson Perhaps you saw or heard the headlines last Friday or over the weekend: the United Nations could take over the Internet! (Or, as the Drudge Report put it, "UN PLANS INTERNET REGULATION.") This, you may not be surprised to learn, isn’t quite accurate. A UN working group is currently talking about what, … Continue reading

An Iraqi Nuclear Weapon

Paul R. Pillar  At the urging of the United States, the United Nations Security Council passed on Wednesday a resolution permitting Iraq to have a civilian nuclear program. The resolution, which also lifted prohibitions on exports to Iraq of certain materials that could be used to develop nuclear and other unconventional weapons, was one of … Continue reading

An Imposed Israeli-Palestinian Solution

Paul R. Pillar … “The United Nations created a Jewish state six decades ago, and it can create a Palestinian state now.” Despite all the hostility that Israelis have perceived through the years at the United Nations and especially the General Assembly, they are aware that the U.N. partition plan of 1947 is the only … Continue reading

India joins the Security Council, with aspirations for more

By Colum Lynch India intends to challenge American policy makers on a range of issues during its two-year term on the Security Council, making it clear that it believes Washington and its European partners have no business using the council to interfere in Burma political troubles or to have the final say on who won … Continue reading

UN Security Council Enlargement and U.S. Interests

Authors: Kara C. McDonald Stewart M. Patrick, Senior Fellow and Director, Program on International Institutions and Global Governance The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) remains an important source of legitimacy for international action. Yet despite dramatic changes in the international system over the past forty-five years, the composition of the UNSC has remained unaltered since … Continue reading

U.N. rights chief slams China, defends Assange

By Colum Lynch Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, pressed China to release this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, expressing hope that China will "come to recognize" the positive contribution the pro-democracy activist can make on Chinese society. … … "Taken as a whole [such measures] could be interpreted as … Continue reading

Peacekeepers and the plague

By David Bosco The BBC has a story up on the cholera outbreak in Haiti, and the link with U.N. peacekeepers. U.N. peacekeepers were the most likely source of the cholera epidemic sweeping Haiti, according to a leaked report by a French disease expert. Epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux conducted research in Haiti on behalf of the … Continue reading

U.N. Human Rights chief declines invite to Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

By Colum Lynch  Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, has turned down an invitation to attend the Dec. 10 event at which Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Chinese pro-democracy advocate, will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Pillay declined the invitation because she is already hosting a human rights day event in Geneva, … Continue reading

The U.N.’s war against leaks

Colum Lynch Stephen Mathias, one of the U.N.’s top lawyers, recently warned a reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Neil Macdonald, that he planned to alert Canadian authorities that the reporter may have obtained leaked U.N. documents in violation of international agreements, prompting a sharp response from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Joel Simon, executive … Continue reading

Sipping Margaritas While the Climate Burns

Why the upcoming U.N. climate summit at Cancún could be just as disappointing as Copenhagen. BILL MCKIBBEN Copenhagen, at least in winter, has a grim air — I remember the Ferris wheel at Tivoli Garden kept spinning throughout last December’s U.N. climate summit, but the windchill factor seemed discouraging. In a season for hunkering down, … Continue reading

Every day’s a holiday at the U.N. (including today!)

Colum Lynch The U.N. calendar has grown cluttered with so many worthy days of observance, commemorations, and holidays that most of them pass unnoticed. There are U.N. days for postal workers, torture victims, slaves, journalists, aid workers, women, children, statisticians and philosophers. The U.N. sets aside time to mark tributes to oceans, forests, deserts and … Continue reading

Did U.N. Peacekeepers Bring Cholera to Haiti?

Not necessarily. BY JOSHUA E. KEATING Efforts to combat Haiti’s rapidly spreading cholera outbreak, which has so far killed more than 1,000 people in the country, were hampered this week by widespread anti-U.N. rioting in the country’s north. The rioting has forced the United Nations and nongovernmental agencies to suspend the delivery of badly needed … Continue reading

Want to Defuse the Iran Crisis?

Here’s how President Barack Obama can begin to reverse 30 years of enmity. BY TRITA PARSI, REZA MARASHI Sometime in the next few weeks, if the parties can agree on a place and date convenient to all sides, Iran and the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the "P5+1," will … Continue reading

Iran blocked, but Saudi Arabia accepted for U.N. Women board

Joshua Keating This morning the U.N.’s new umbrella agency for women’s rights issues elected its board members. The election had attracted controversy because two of the candidate countries were among the world’s most notorious abusers of women’s rights, Iran and Saudi Arabia.  This morning, with strong lobbying from the United States, Iran’s election to the … Continue reading

Ban Ki who?

Colum Lynch For President George W. Bush, the United Nations, like it or not, was never far from the center of his presidency. The organization’s leadership repeatedly and publicly clashed with Bush over aspects of his foreign policy, from the war on terrorism, to the toppling of Saddam Hussein, and the broader Middle East "freedom … Continue reading

U.S. gets earful from Human Rights Council, courtesy of Iran, North Korea and Cuba

By Colum Lynch In an unprecedented meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday morning, the human rights record of the United States faced attack from political rivals, including Cuba, Iran, and North Korea. Some delegations instructed staff to wait outside the building overnight in chilly weather so they could be the first in … Continue reading

New U.N. Report Reveals a Smarter, Healthier — Yet More Unequal — World

On the 20th anniversary of the world’s most in-depth country ranking, the U.N. Human Development Index finds that global progress is largely on track. But those left behind are more numerous than ever. BY ELIZABETH DICKINSON If one were to look merely at bank slips, the world’s countries and people are far less equal today … Continue reading

Top U.N. official honors Tiananmen Square general

By Colum Lynch As Ban Ki-moon finalized his preparations for his visit this week to Beijing, one of his top advisors, Sha Zukang, traveled to China to present an award to a retired Chinese general who had authority over troops that fired on unarmed civilians during the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Sha, the U.N. Undersecretary … Continue reading

Blame Canada!

By Colum Lynch It wasn’t supposed to end like this. Canada, our right-minded, unabashedly internationalist northern neighbor, had won every race for a seat on the U.N. Security Council since the international body’s founding in 1945 — and for good reason. Canadian diplomats practically invented U.N. peacekeeping (the Canadian currency features a picture of U.N. … Continue reading

Deadly Cattle Disease Eradicated

by Dennis Normile Credit: Image courtesy of Texas A&M University/College of Veterinary Sciences History. Rinderpest, a disease that has wiped out cattle, such as these cattle herds in South Africa in 1897, appears to be eradicated. Rinderpest, an infectious disease that has wiped out cattle and devastated their keepers for millennia, is gone. The United … Continue reading

Insecurity Council

Is the U.N.’s seat of power a curse? BY JOSHUA E. KEATING For small states, election to one of the U.N. Security Council’s 10 nonpermanent seats is a unique opportunity to have a major say in the world’s largest political debates. It’s the diplomatic equivalent of moving up from the minor leagues to the Yankees. … Continue reading

They shoot migrants, don’t they?

By Colum Lynch Egypt, a state that over the past four years has allegedly shot and killed more than 80 African migrants trying to cross into Israel over the Sinai Desert border, became chair on Friday of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees executive committee, sparking criticism by human rights groups of Egypt’s refugee policies. … Continue reading

How Lebanon Was Lost

A former U.S. ally under Bush’s Freedom Agenda, the country is now being neglected in the name of "engagement" with Syria — and the results could be disastrous. BY JAMES TRAUB Last month, Saad Hariri, the prime minister of Lebanon and the son of Rafik Hariri, the beloved former prime minister who was murdered five … Continue reading

22 nations face protracted food crises

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO The Associated Press ROME — U.N. food agencies said Wednesday that 166 million people in 22 countries suffer chronic hunger or difficulty finding enough to eat as a result of what they called protracted food crises. Wars, natural disasters and poor government institutions have contributed to a continuous state of undernourishment in … Continue reading

The Turtle Bay Runway

The lights may have gone out at this year’s U.N. General Assembly, but it’s the glittering fashions — even more than the orations — that keep on shining. BY COLUM LYNCH When Hamid Karzai made his first appearance at the United Nations as Afghanistan’s president in 2002, he seemed to impress New York’s fashionistas as … Continue reading

Gettleman’s despair on UN peacekeeping

By David Bosco New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman has penned another in what has become a series of searing accounts on African turmoil. He focuses on recent sexual violence in eastern Congo and all but accuses the UN of impotence: But many critics contend that nowhere else in the world has the United Nations … Continue reading

U.S. underrepresented at several U.N. agencies

By Josh Rogin Obama administration officials have spoken a great deal about their drive to reinvigorate U.S. participation in international organizations, including the United Nations. But last year, the American presence and influence in several parts of the United Nations actually declined, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found. "In 2009, the United States was … Continue reading