Stories written by Thalif Deen
Thalif Deen, Director & Senior Editor, UN Bureau, Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency has been covering the United Nations since the late 1970s. Beginning with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, he has covered virtually every major U.N. conference: on population, human rights, the environment, sustainable development, food security, humanitarian aid, arms control and nuclear disarmament.   As the former UN Bureau Chief for Inter Press Service, he was cited twice for excellence in U.N. reporting at the annual awards presentation of the U.N. Correspondents' Association (UNCA). In November 2012, he was on the IPS team which won the prestigious gold medal for reporting on the global environment-- and in 2013, he shared the gold, this time with the UN Bureau Chief of Reuters news agency, for his reporting on the humanitarian and development work of the United Nations.   A former information officer at the U.N. Secretariat, he served twice as a member of the Sri Lanka delegation to the UN General Assembly sessions. His track record includes a stint as deputy news editor of the Sri Lanka Daily News and senior editorial writer on the Hong Kong Standard. He was also Director, Foreign Military Markets at Defense Marketing Services; Senior Defense Analyst at Forecast International; and military editor Middle East/Africa at Jane’s Information Group. He was a longstanding columnist for the Sri Lanka Sunday Times, U.N. correspondent for Asiaweek, Hong Kong and Jane's Defence Weekly, London. He is a Fulbright scholar with a Master’s Degree (MSc) in Journalism from Columbia University, New York. email: thalifdeen@gmail.com tmd30@columbia.edu | Twitter |

UN Survives a World Turned Upside Down

As the United Nations plans to commemorate its annual UN Day, come October 24, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is presiding over a world body which has remained locked down since last March because of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Global Poverty Soars– As Incomes of World’s Billionaires Hit New Highs

The phenomenal rise in extreme poverty -– for the first time in 20 years -- has been accompanied by an upsurge in the incomes of the world’s billionaires and the super-rich.

Nobel Peace Prize to World Food Programme Delivering Life-Saving Sustenance to Millions Worldwide

With the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize bestowed on the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations and its affiliated agencies continue to hold a monopoly of one of the world’s most prestigious annual awards.

A 10-Year-Old Commitment to Biodiversity Misses Virtually All of its Targets

The coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of over one million people worldwide and destabilized the global economy, also upended the UN’s ambitious socio-economic goals, including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

What UN Needs is a Cease-Fire Inside its own Security Council

With more than 20,000 civilians killed last year in conflicts in 10 countries — including Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen-- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his call for a “global cease-fire”: a proposal which failed to generate a positive response since he first announced it last March.

After 75 Years, UN Claims 50:50 Gender Parity, But Falls Short of its Ultimate Goals

When the United Nations was dominated by men, holding some of the highest positions in the staff hierarchy, women staffers were overwhelmingly administrative secretaries seen pounding on their Remington typewriters seated outside their bosses’ enclosed offices.

Will Trump Threaten to Pullout or De-fund the United Nations?

Back in 1998, Senator Jesse Helms, a rightwing Republican from the US state of North Carolina, carried out a virulent one-man hate-campaign against the UN-- and its very presence in New York.

World Risks Losing Entire Generation of Children, Nobel Laureates Warn

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of millions of people worldwide, accounted for over 869,000 deaths, destabilised the global economy and triggered a marked rise in poverty and hunger in the developing world. But the fallout from one of the most devastating consequences of the spreading virus is on the lives of a growing new generation: children.

Racism at the UN: Practice What You Preach

When two recent staff surveys, one in Geneva and the other in New York, revealed widespread racism at the United Nations, it triggered the obvious question: why shouldn’t the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) probe these charges?

Staff Surveys Reveal Widespread Racism at the United Nations

As it continues to vociferously preach the virtues of equality—advocating equal rights for all, irrespective of race, sex, language or religion-- the United Nations has been quick to condemn racism and racial discrimination worldwide.

If Trump Delivers His Last Hurrah to an Empty United Nations, Will it Still Make a Sound?

There is no love lost between the United Nations and US President Donald Trump. When he addressed the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly in September 2018, Trump falsely told delegates that "in less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country"

If UN is Working “Full Throttle” While Locked Down, Shouldn’t Most Staffers Work from Home –Permanently?

When the coronavirus pandemic delivered a mortal blow to the United States, grounding the country to a virtual standstill and throwing its economy into a deep recession, hundreds and thousands were forced to work “remotely” while offices remained shuttered, beginning late March.

With Poverty & Hunger Skyrocketing, is a Global Economic Rescue Package the Answer?

The United Nations has been relentlessly pursuing a highly-ambitious blueprint for the sustainable future of humanity –harking back to the adoption of a new global economic agenda by the General Assembly back in 2015.

UN Chief Warns of Deadly Germs as Potential Bioterrorist Weapons

The coronavirus—which has claimed the lives of over 538,000 people and infected more than 11.6 million worldwide—has destabilized virtually every facet of human life ever since its outbreak in late December.

Cover-up at the UN: You Scratch My Back & I’ll Scratch Yours

The ongoing battle between China and the United States is threatening to paralyze the most powerful body at the United Nations – the 15-member Security Council (UNSC)—which has virtually gone MIA (missing in action) on some of the key politically-sensitive issues of the day.

Message to Ostracized World Leaders: You Don’t Need a US Visa to Address the UN

The coronavirus pandemic is beginning to transform the United Nations into an institution far beyond recognition. The Secretariat building has been shut down since mid-March, and the UN campus will continue to remain a ghost town through end July-- and perhaps beyond-- with nearly 3,000 staffers, delegates and journalists working, mostly from home.

When Old Age Catches Up, Even Nuclear Weapons Go into Retirement

The world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons—estimated at over 13,400 at the beginning of 2020 – have a least one thing in common with humans: they are “retired” when they reach old age.

UN Chiefs Silenced by Big Powers with Vetoes

The massive protests in more than 120 US cities over racial injustice and police brutality went global last week-- amidst presidential threats of military force on demonstrators in Washington DC.

Is the Fight for Human Rights & Racial Justice Overriding the Coronavirus Risk?

The deadly coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of over 372,000 people worldwide, has reinforced the concept of “social distancing” which bars any gathering of over 10 or 20 people – whether at a social event, a wedding, a political rally or even a funeral.

Will UN Chief & Senior Management Volunteer Pay Cuts in Crisis-Stricken World Body?

As a spiraling financial crisis threatens to undermine the UN’s day-to-day operations worldwide, a proposal being kicked around, outside the empty corridors of the UN, has triggered the question: will senior officials, including the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General (DSG), Under-Secretaries-Generals (USGs), including 60 heads of UN agencies, Funds and Programs, and Assistant Secretaries-Generals (ASGs), volunteer to take salary cuts— even as a symbolic gesture?

Stay Home? Wash Hands? But 1.8 Billion Remain Homeless & 3.0 Billion Have No Access to Water

The relentless battle against the devastating coronavirus pandemic has been underlined by several widespread advisories from health experts – STAY HOME. WASH YOUR HANDS. WEAR MASK. KEEP SOCIAL DISTANCE.

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