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.

When Gender Parity Knocks at the UN Door, Does Merit Fly Out of the Window?

As gender empowerment gathers momentum, both inside and outside the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to announce shortly a set of new proposals to improve UN human resources policies-- specifically aimed at increasing gender and geographical diversity within the Secretariat.

Climate Change Undermining Global Efforts to Eradicate Hunger

The United Nations warned last month that the accelerating impacts of climate change—“already clearly visible today”-- have triggered an unpredictable wave of natural disasters-- including extreme heatwaves, wild fires, storms, and floods during the course of this year.

UN Expects More Upheavals as Trump’s Foreign Policy Runs Wild

The unpredictable Donald Trump, described by some as a human wrecking ball, will be walking down his own path of self-inflicted destruction when he visits the United Nations next week.

UN Begins Talks on World’s First Treaty to Regulate High Seas

After several years of preliminary discussions, the United Nations has begun its first round of inter-governmental negotiations to draft the world’s first legally binding treaty to protect and regulate the “high seas”—which, by definition, extend beyond 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) and are considered “international waters” shared globally.

UN Seeks Probe into Saudi Bombing of Civilian Targets

Saudi Arabia, which has been accused of relentlessly bombing civilian targets in strife-torn Yemen and threatening executions of human rights activists, is fast gaining notoriety as a political outcast at the United Nations.

Annan Denounced Iraqi Invasion as “Illegal” & Criticized Military Leaders Addressing UN

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, who is  a creature of member states, rarely challenges or defies his creators. But Kofi Annan, who died last week at the age of 80, did both. Surprisingly, he lived to tell the tale-- but paid an unfairly heavy price after being hounded by the United States.

Amidst Rising Heat Waves, UN says Cooling is a Human Right, not a Luxury

The rising heat waves in the world’s middle income and poorer nations are threatening the health and prosperity of about 1.1 billion people, including 470 million in rural areas without access to safe food and medicines, and 630 million in hotter, poor urban slums, with little or no cooling to protect them, according to the latest figures released by the United Nations.

Global Compact & the Art of Cherry-Picking Refugees

When Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was asked about the legality of the UN’s much-ballyhooed Global Compact for Migration, he was initially evasive in his response.“I’m not a lawyer”, he told reporters July 12, “and I presume that this question might be better asked from a lawyer”.

Palestine to Lead UN’s Largest Group of Developing Nations

The Group of 77 (G77) -- the largest single coalition of developing countries at the United Nations-- is to be chaired by Palestine, come January.

A UN Parliament Gains Support in an Age of Divisive Political Leaders

A long standing proposal for the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) is slowly gathering momentum.The 751-member European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg has called on the European Union (EU) to extend its support for the establishment of the proposed new body -- specifically with a resolution before the upcoming 73rd session of the 193-member UN General Assembly (UNGA), which begins in mid-September.

Global Campaign Against Mercury Moves to an End Zone

A global campaign to end a longstanding health and environmental hazard-- the use of mercury in dentistry—is steadily moving to a successful conclusion.Providing an update, Charlie Brown, head of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, one of the key campaigners, told IPS that “nation by nation, the world is on the threshold of ending amalgam for children in 2018.”

Is there Gender Parity & Reverse Sexual Harassment at UN?

Faced with growing allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in the UN system, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last year announced a “zero-tolerance” policy to fight harassment in the world body.But UN Women, which was created in July 2010 and dedicated to gender empowerment, has moved one step further-- and appointed an Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination, perhaps one of the few UN bodies to do so.

UN Exemptions Make Mockery of Sexual Abuse in World Body

When allegations of sexual harassment were made against a senior UN official—holding the rank of Under-Secretary-General at the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC)-- the United Nations admitted that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has no jurisdiction over a UN body created by the General Assembly and answerable only to member states. http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/sexual-abuse-un-chief-no-jurisdiction-act/

Pompeo in Talks with Blacklisted North Korean Official in New York

A rare closed-door meeting between the United States and North Korea was described as a major breakthrough—the first time in nearly two decades.

The Day the UN Elected a President in a Virtual Lottery

The battle between two candidates for the presidency of the 193-member General Assembly next week harks back to the day when the president of the highest policy making body at the United Nations was elected on the luck of a draw --following a dead heat.

Food Waste Enough to Feed World’s Hungry Four Times Over

The United Nations is continuing to fight a relentless battle to eradicate extreme hunger – particularly in the world’s poorest nations—by 2030.

Movie Mogul Arraigned on Charges of Sexual Abuse

When Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein arrived for his arraignment on charges of sexual abuse, there were hordes of photographers and reporters waiting for him outside the New York Supreme Court.  

Can Preventive Diplomacy Avert Military Conflicts?

In the paradoxical battle against military conflicts, is preventive diplomacy one of the political remedies that can help deter wars before they break out?Miroslav Lajcak, President of the UN General Assembly, points out that prevention takes many forms, and it must tackle conflict at its roots – before it can spread.

How Do You Attain “Sustainable Peace” Amidst Rising Military Conflicts?

The underlying message at the fifth annual Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development was summed up in its telling title “The politics of peace.”But the task ahead was overwhelmingly difficult: How do you advance peace and development against the backdrop of political unrest in parts of Asia and Africa and continued conflicts in the Middle East— all of them amidst rising global military spending triggering arms sales running into billions of dollars.

Despite Setbacks, Africa Viewed as Continent of Hope, Promise & Vast Potential

Africa has long been one of the world’s most beleaguered continents – singled out mostly for its conflicts, political and economic instability, rising poverty and hunger, inequalities and its environmental challenges.And in international circles, it is described as “Afro-pessimism.”

“Fake News” a Growing New Threat to Press Freedom

When a Malaysian politician of a bygone era was asked about the “leading newspapers” in his country, he shot back: “We don’t have any leading newspapers in our country because all our newspapers are misleading.”

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