Stories written by Thalif Deen
Thalif Deen, a Senior Consulting Editor at 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, 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.

Bangladesh Aims at Middle-Income Status by 2021

The environmental challenges facing Bangladesh, described by the United Nations as one of the world’s “least developed countries” (LDCs), are monumental, including recurrent cyclones, perennial floods, widespread riverbank erosion and a potential sea level rise predicted to put about 27 million people at risk over the next two decades.

Are Rising Seas, Coastal Erosion & Powerful Storms a Wave of the Future for Small Island Nations?

The 44-member Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) represents some of the world’s most vulnerable island nations fighting a virtually losing battle against rising sea levels triggered by global warming and climate change.

Post-Nuclear Nightmares Still Linger Over Pacific Islands

The Pacific islands have long remained victims of nuclear crimes – but the perpetrators, three of the world’s major powers with permanent seats in the UN Security Council, never paid for their deadly sins.

Fiji Civil Society Meeting to Focus on Pacific Islands Under Threat

The 57 small island developing states (SIDS), including 20 described as territories which are non-UN members, are some of the world’s most vulnerable – both economically and environmentally.

Should Environmental Refugees be Granted Asylum Status?

The 1951 UN convention on political refugees-- which never foresaw the phenomenon of climate change-- permits refugee status only if one “has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”

Will DNA Data Base Deter Sexual Abuse at UN?

The United Nations is fighting a losing battle against the widespread – and continued – sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by UN peacekeepers and civilian staff resulting in relatively few convictions amidst daunting problems in tracking abusers and nailing down paternity claims.

UN Agency Defers Action Cutting Ties to Tobacco Industry

Back in November 2008, the 193-member General Assembly decided, by consensus, to ban smoking and tobacco sales at the UN headquarters in New York: a ruling observed by all affiliated agencies worldwide, including the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) which has severed links with the tobacco industry.

Global Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry Targets Africa

A vibrant global campaign to ban the use of mercury in dentistry is shifting direction: moving from Europe to the developing world.

UN Member States, With Exceptions, Pay Lip Service to Women & Peacekeeping

A UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution adopted on 31 October 2000, underlying the role of women in peacekeeping, has long been described as both historic and unprecedented.

Russian & US Vetoes Protect Client States

The vote on the latest American-sponsored resolution in the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Syria was predictable: of the five big powers, China abstained and Russia vetoed, while the US, UK and France voted for it.

Global Campaign to Smoke Out Tobacco Firms from UN Body

The world’s tobacco companies – which have been widely ostracized in the UN system – may be ousted from one of their last fortified strongholds in the United Nations: the International Labour Organization (ILO).

US Call for Suspending Arms Sales to Myanmar Faces Road Block in Security Council

When US Ambassador Nikki Haley called for a virtual arms embargo against the repressive and much-maligned military regime in Myanmar, she took a passing shot at two of her fellow veto-wielding, permanent members of the Security Council – namely China and Russia – who are primary arms suppliers to the increasingly politically-isolated nation.

US Pressure Keeps Palestinians Blacklisted at UN

When Secretary-General Antonio Guterres proposed the appointment of former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as UN’s Special Representative in Libya back in February, the proposal was shot down by US Ambassador Nikki Haley, purely because he was a Palestinian.

US Lags Far Behind in Banning Dental Health Hazard

The United States is lagging far behind its Western allies – and perhaps most of the key developing countries – in refusing to act decisively to end a longstanding health and environmental hazard: the use of mercury in dentistry.

Sinking Island Seeks Seat in Security Council

The Maldives, one of the world’s low-lying, small island developing states (SIDS) -- threatened with extinction because of a sea-level rise-- is shoring up its coastal defences in anticipation of the impending calamity.

Did Arab Coalition Threaten to Pull Out of UN in Protest?

When Saudi Arabia – which has been spearheading a coalition of Arab states in a devastating war against Yemen since 2015 – was accused of bombing civilians, and particularly children caught up in the conflict, the government in Riyadh threatened to cut off humanitarian funding to the world body.

UN Work Stoppage in Geneva Halts Human Rights Meeting

As UN staffers in Geneva threaten a strike, protesting a proposed salary cut of over 7.5 percent, a token two-hour “work stoppage” last week forced the Human Rights Council to suspend its meeting.

Proposed UN Pay Cuts Threaten Work Stoppage in Geneva

Facing significant reductions in US financial contributions from a politically-unpredictable Donald Trump administration, the UN Secretariat is gearing itself for a rash of austerity measures and budgetary cuts, including downsizing peacekeeping operations and cuts in development aid, reproductive health and overseas travel.

Journalist Killings in Sri Lanka Predicated on a Deadly Irony

The widespread belief in the politically-motivated killings of journalists in Sri Lanka is predicated on a deadly irony: the hidden hand has always been visible, but the fingerprints have gone missing.

IPS Journalists Who Perished in the Line of Duty

In the politically-risky world of professional journalism, news reporters are fast becoming an endangered species.

Syrian Regime Survives on Russian Arms & UN Vetoes

As the devastating civil war in Syria entered its seventh year last week, President Bashar al-Assad has continued to survive--- despite faltering efforts by the United States and the UN Security Council (UNSC) to rein him in, or impose sanctions on his beleaguered regime.

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