Stories written by Thalif Deen
Thalif Deen, Director & Senior Editor, UN Bureau, Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency Thalif Deen 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, social and economic development, food security, humanitarian aid, nuclear disarmament, water, energy and education. 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. A former military editor Middle East/Africa at Jane’s Information Group, a columnist for the Sri Lanka Sunday Times and a longtime U.N. correspondent for Asiaweek, Hong Kong and Jane's Defence Weekly, London, he is a Fulbright scholar with a Master’s Degree in journalism from Columbia University, New York.

How Devastating is Climate Change for World Peace & Security?

When the Security Council, the most powerful body at the United Nations, met last month to discuss the growing new threats to world peace and security, the discussion veered away from international terrorism, nuclear Armageddon and the rash of ongoing military conflicts in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Is UN Planning to Replace Humans with Machines & Robots?

The United Nations-- once facetiously described as an institution whose bloated bureaucracy moves at the leisured pace of a paralytic snail -- is steadily zooming into the field of fast-paced, cutting-edge digital technology where humans may one day be replaced with machines and robots.

Right-Wing Nationalism Threatens Democratic Norms, Human Rights & Press Freedom

The steady decline in multilateralism—accompanied by a rise in unilateralism-- is beginning to threaten democratic norms, including press freedom, global governance, civic participation and human rights across Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East.

Is the UN Being Undermined by a Demagogic Trump Administration?

The United Nations, which embodies the core principles of multilateralism since its creation more than 74 years ago, is being steadily and systematically undermined by a reactionary and demagogic Trump administration recklessly flaunting American imperialism at its worst.

Electronic Devices Outnumber Humans & Trigger a Surge in E-Waste

The widespread innovations in modern digital technology have a devastating downside to it: the accumulation of over 50 million tonnes of electronics waste (e-waste) globally every year.

Survey on UN Sexual Abuse Shifts Focus on Virtual Fugitives from Justice

A survey of sexual harassment at the United Nations has uncomfortably shifted the focus to some of the senior UN officials who have either escaped censure – or punishment-- despite a rash of charges against them, including abuse and misconduct.

UN Lambasted on High-Level Appointments

The world’s developing countries, comprising over two-thirds of the 193 UN member states, are complaining they are not being adequately represented in the higher echelons of the world body –- despite competent candidates with strong professional and academic qualifications vying for these jobs.

Mercury Contamination Threat Gravitates into Outer Space

The dangers of mercury contamination have escalated from the dental chair to the realm of outer space.First, it was the hazardous use of mercury in dentistry, then in cosmetics, particularly skin-lightening creams, and now it is threatening to make its way into satellite propulsion systems.

Is it Time to End Cheque Book Diplomacy at the UN?

The UN’s major donors – led by the United States – have long been accused of influence-peddling and misusing their financial clout not only to grab some of the high ranking jobs in the world body but also threaten funding cuts to push their own domestic agendas.

Senior UN Official Resigns Undermining Sexual Abuse Charges

The UN’s heavily-hyped “zero tolerance” policy on sexual abuse is being ridiculed once again --– this time with the abrupt resignation of the head of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) who faced charges of sexual harassment and was the subject of an inquiry by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).

US Blasts Migrant’s Compact – Even as 150+ Countries Embrace it

As UN delegates met in Morocco to adopt a global compact to protect the rights and safety of refugees and migrants (GCM), the Trump administration launched a blistering attack condemning it as a violation of national sovereignty.

A UN Conference Undermined by 11th Hour Withdrawals

When the long-awaited UN conference focusing on the rights and safety of migrants and refugees takes off in Morocco, it will be a rare, if not an unprecedented meeting, for one reason: the withdrawal of at least seven member states almost at the 59th minute of the eleventh hour.

Will Member States Help Offset US Funding Cuts to UN?

The speculation that the Trump administration plans to reduce its mandatory assessed financial contributions to the UN’s regular budget was implicitly confirmed when the US president told delegates last September that Washington “is working to shift more of our funding, from assessed contributions to voluntary contributions, so that we can target American resources to the programs with the best record of success.”

African Nations Show Rare Transparency in Military Spending

When the United Nations began publishing annual reports on arms expenditures, starting in 1981, not all 193 member states voluntarily participated in the exercise in transparency-- primarily because most governments are secretive about their defense spending and their weapons purchases.

E-Commerce Giants Under Fire for Retailing Hazardous Mercury-Based Cosmetics

A coalition of over 50 civil society organizations (CSOs), from more than 20 countries, have urged two of the world’s largest multi-billion dollar E-commerce retailers – Amazon and eBay – to stop marketing “dangerous and illegal mercury-based skin lightening creams.”

Trump’s Anti-Media Rhetoric Resonates Worldwide

A former French president once remarked: Never pick a fight with a little kid or the press. The kid will throw the last stone at you and the press will have the last word.But that obviously does not apply to a teflon-coated Donald Trump because nothing apparently sticks on him – even as he survives a barrage of criticisms from the mainstream media while he continues to utter falsehoods and mouth blatant lies.

Marco Napoli, 86, Ensured the Survival of IPS at UN

Marco Napoli, who passed away on November 6, began his early professional career as a New York-based correspondent for several international news organizations, including the Italian Il Progresso News, back in the 1960s, long before he was Regional Director, IPS North America.

Gay & Lesbian Rights Prove Divisive at Parliamentarians’ Conference

When the International Parliamentarians’ Conference (ICPI) on population and development concluded its two-day forum in the Canadian capital last week, more than 150 legislators from around the world approved a seven page Declaration reaffirming their opposition to some of the culturally sensitive issues, including female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriages.

Canada Takes a Lead Role Funding Reproductive Health, Women’s Rights & Sustainable Development

Canada, which has been described as one of the world’s most progressive countries, has legitimized gay rights, vociferously advocated gender empowerment, offered strong support for abortion rights – and recently became the world’s first major economy to legalize recreational marijuana.

Despite Progress, Over 200 Million Women Still Waiting for Modern Contraception

The international community will be commemorating two milestones in the history of population and development next year: the 50th anniversary of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the 25th anniversary of a Programme of Action (PoA) adopted at the1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.

UN Vote on Palestine a Humiliating Defeat for US & its Envoy

Nikky Haley, the vociferously anti-Palestine US Ambassador to the United Nations, warned member states last year she will “take down names” of those who vote against American interests in the world body—perhaps with the implicit threat of cutting US aid to countries that refuse to play ball with the diplomatically-reckless Trump administration.

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