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.

UN’s 75th Anniversary Shadowed by Right-Wing Nationalism, Widespread Authoritarianism & Budgetary Cuts

When the six much-ballyhooed high-level UN meetings concluded late September, there were mixed feelings about the final outcomes. And civil society organizations (CSOs), who were mostly disappointed with the results, are now gearing themselves for two upcoming key climate summit meetings: COP25 in Santiago, Chile in December and COP26 in Glasgow, UK in late 2020, along with the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Women’s Conference scheduled to take place in September 2020 in New York.

UN’s Cash Crisis Can Have Serious Consequences, Staff Unions Warn

The UN’s smoldering cash crisis, which has threatened staff salaries and payments to vendors, has triggered strong reactions and rattled the over 6,400 staffers who work in the 39-storeyed Secretariat building in New York.

UN Women Ambassadors Rise to New Heights But Fall Short of Gender Parity

New York’s diplomatic community has continued to be enriched by a record number of women Permanent Representatives (PRUNs)—50 in all, as of October 2 – compared with about 15 to 20 back in the 1980s and early 1990s.

UN a War Zone When World Leaders Gather

When the UN General Assembly begins in mid- September every year, chances are more than 150 world leaders gather under one roof triggering security nightmares and turning the neighborhood into a veritable war zone, including road closures, deployment of metal detectors, concrete barriers to prevent unauthorized traffic and baggage and pat-down screenings.

Right-Wing Politicians Fear “Invasion” of Europe & US by Migrants and Refugees

The United Nations commemorated its annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) on September 29 ---- this time amidst rising anti-immigrant rhetoric and widespread xenophobia.

A Rising Youth Movement Picks Up Where Governments Have Failed

When the Youth Climate Summit concluded last week, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres predicted that if governments still lack the political will to make peace with nature, “there is huge hope in what the youth is doing all over the world".

At the U.N., it Was the Day of Populist Strongmen

The United Nations is an institution which promotes multilateralism and preaches some of the basic tenets of multiparty democracy and liberalism, including the rule of law, universal human rights, free speech, civil liberties, the rights of refugees and freedom of the press.

Advice to US: When You’re Going to a Gunfight, Bring all Your Friends with Guns

Jim Mattis a former United States Defense Secretary in the Trump administration quotes a Marine Corps dictum in a recently released book titled “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead”.

World’s Hard Fought Battle Against Climate Change

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres describes the ongoing crisis as a “climate emergency”-- as the world continues its hard fought battle against devastating droughts, floods, hurricanes and rising sea levels that threaten the very existence of small island developing states located in low-lying areas.

As Climate Crisis Worsens & Poverty Rises, UN Appears Off-Track on Development Agenda

The two key goals in the UN’s development agenda are the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by 2030. But most of the world’s developing nations, currently fighting a losing battle against rising poverty and hunger –and suffering from the devastating impact of climate change-- are likely to miss the deadline for most of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the latest report by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

UN Chief Calls for Action, Not “Beautiful Speeches”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has offered an unsolicited piece of advice to the 190-plus speakers, including heads of state and heads of government, who will address an unprecedented six high level plenary meetings during the General Assembly sessions September 23-27.

Are 9-to-5 Jobs Fast Becoming History – Even at the UN?

With the rapid leap in digital technology – including increased access to conference calls, e-translations, skype, text messaging and emails—more and more offices in the United States are providing employees with an option to “work from home”.

UN’s Upcoming Summits May Foreshadow a Revival of Multilateralism or an Obituary for World Order

The United Nations will be hosting six high level plenary meetings –- unprecedented even by its own standards—during the beginning of the 74th session of the General Assembly in late September.

Is the UN’s High Seas Treaty Heading Towards Troubled Waters?

The world’s high seas, which extend beyond 200 nautical miles, are deemed “international waters” to be shared globally-- but they remain largely ungoverned.

UNICEF’s Goodwill Envoy a Messenger of ill-Will, Complain Critics

When two-time Wimbledon tennis champion Boris Becker, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, refused to make a commitment not to play in South Africa, a country blacklisted for its apartheid policies, the UN children’s agency stripped him of the prestigious title, back in October 1987.

G7 Leaders Urged to Promote Gender Empowerment

As leaders of the seven major industrialised nations (G7) meet in the coastal seatown of Biarritz in the south west of France, one of the world’s leading women’s organisations is calling for the protection and advancement of women worldwide.

A Key Role for 1.8 Billion Youth in UN’s 2030 Development Agenda

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is convinced that the world’s 1.8 billion adolescents and youth-- a quarter of the global population—have a key role to play in helping implement the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda.

Will Sanctions Undermine 1947 US Treaty with UN?

When Yassir Arafat was denied a US visa to visit New York to address the United Nations back in 1988, the General Assembly defied the United States by temporarily moving the UN’s highest policy making body to Geneva-- perhaps for the first time in UN history-- providing a less-hostile political environment for the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Will Palestinian Refugees Pay a Heavy Price for UNRWA Bungling?

A crisis that has threatened to undermine the future of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is expected to have a devastating impact—not only on the credibility of the United Nations-- but also on the lives of over five million Palestinian refugees whose very survival depends on the humanitarian services provided by the beleaguered UN agency based in Amman and Gaza.

UNRWA Faces Donor Backlash Amidst Charges of Sexual Misconduct & Nepotism

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which has been undermined by a sharp cut in US contributions, has been embroiled in a scandal that threatens to jeopardize its very future.

How Widespread is Human Trafficking in the US?

The United States is no exception to the practice of modern day slavery—a crime for which it is rarely held accountable at the United Nations.

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