Stories written by Thalif Deen
Thalif Deen, Senior Editor & Director, 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 IPS, 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. As military analyst, 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. A Fulbright scholar with a Master’s Degree (MSc) in Journalism from Columbia University, New York, he is co-author of the 1981 book on “How to Survive a Nuclear Disaster” and author of the 2021 book on the United Nations titled “No Comment – and Don’t Quote me on That”— and subtitled ‘from the Sublime to the Hilarious’, both of which are available on Amazon. email: thalifdeen@gmail.com tmd30@caa.columbia.edu

A Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone in the Middle East— & the Elephant in the Room

Israel’s nuclear presence in the Middle East is best characterized as “the elephant in the room” -– an obvious fact intentionally ignored with deafening silence.

Global Arms Industry Thrives Amid Worldwide Pandemic Devastation

The 21-month long pandemic, which began with the outbreak of the deadly corona virus back in March 2020, ravaged hundreds and thousands of businesses and industries resulting either in widespread losses, closures or bankruptcies.

African Network Fosters Unity, Fights Gender Discrimination & Advances Sustainable Development

The widespread 21-month-old lockdown, triggered by the corona virus pandemic, had a destructive impact on the global economy, claimed over 5.2 million lives, destabilized governments and radically changed lifestyles worldwide.

Ethiopia’s Civil War Fueled by Weapons from UN’s Big Powers

In Hollywood movies, the legendary Wild West was routinely portrayed with gunslingers, lawmen and villains—resulting in the ultimate showdown between the “good guys and the bad guys”. Linda Thomson-Greenfield, US ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council early this month that the warring parties in the devastating 12-month-long civil war in Ethiopia involve the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, the Eritrean Defense Forces, the Amhara Special Forces, and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front.

Asian Staffers at UN Launch Network to Protect Rights & Fight Racism

The United Nations, which consists of 193 member states, has long been accused of discrimination against staffers who number over 315,000 and spread across 56 UN agencies and entities worldwide. But most of these are deeply rooted system-wide. A wide-ranging staff survey, both in New York and Geneva last year, revealed that discrimination was based either on race, religion, gender or nationality.

UN’s “Indispensable Partners” Barred from Entering Secretariat Building

The United Nations has come under heavy fire for continuing a 20-month-long ban on non-governmental organizations (NGOs)– even though the Secretariat is expected to return to near-normal by November 15 after a pandemic lockdown going back to March 2020.

After a 20-Month Lockdown, UN Plans to Return to Near-Normal by Mid-November

The United Nations, which suffered a pandemic lockdown over the last 20 months-- with most staffers tele-working from their homes-- is expected to return to near-normal, come November 15.

COP26: the Heat is On, But Climate Leadership is Off, Warns UN Report

When over 100 political leaders meet in Scotland next week for the UN Climate Change Conference, the very future of our planet seems to hinge on the outcome of the summit which is scheduled to take place October 31-November 12.

Big Brother is Watching You– as Electronic Surveillance Dominates Lives

The British novelist George Orwell’s “1984” characterized a dystopian society where people were restricted from independent thought and were victims of constant surveillance. Published in 1949, it was a prophecy of the future with the underlying theme: “Big Brother is Watching You”

UN Chief, in an Unprecedented War of Words, Battles it out with a Member State

A growing diplomatic battle is being played out at the United Nations between Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and one of the world body’s member states: the politically-troubled Ethiopia which is desperately in need of international humanitarian assistance.

Will Taliban Honour UN Treaties Signed by Afghanistan Over the Last 20 Years?

When the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan receives the political blessings of the 193-member General Assembly-- and eventually inherits its seat at the United Nations-- it will have to ultimately prove its credentials as a member of good standing by adhering to the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – as all member states do.

When Taliban Ministers Avoided Eye Contact With Senior Female UN Officials

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan during 1996-2001, the United Nations was engaged in a losing battle for women’s rights. And that battle was occasionally led by two senior female UN officials, one of them working for a UN agency providing humanitarian assistance inside unfriendly Taliban territory.

UN Staffers Under Pandemic Restrictions, but Diplomats to Wine & Dine Unrestrained

When hundreds of delegates and diplomats arrive in New York city next week for the new 76th session of the UN General Assembly, they will be pinned down with pandemic restrictions in a city where Delta variant infections have been skyrocketing.

The Islamic Emirate, led by an Insurgent Group, Aims at Capturing a Coveted Seat at the UN

When the high-level segment of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly opens September 21, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is unlikely to occupy a much-coveted seat in the world body.

New York City Mandates Proof of Vaccination as Delta Virus Spreads

The rigid new restrictions imposed by New York city-- currently facing a surge in the deadly Delta corona virus variant-- have prompted scores of US companies to impose mandatory vaccinations on all employees, mostly returning to work after temporary lockdowns.

Taliban’s Quest for Legitimacy – and a Seat at the United Nations

When the Taliban captured power back in 1996, one of its first political acts was to hang the ousted Afghan President Mohammed Najibullah in Ariana Square in Kabul. The newly-installed government played a triple role: judge, jury and hangman, all three rolled into one.

Were US War Profiteers the Ultimate Winners in Battle-Scarred Afghanistan?

As the 20-year-old occupation of Afghanistan came to an inglorious end last week, there were heavy losses suffered by many-- including the United States, the Afghan military forces and the country’s civilian population.

UN’s Ultimatum to Staff & Diplomats: Get Vaccinated or Go Hungry

As New York city struggles to cope with the widespread outbreak of the deadly new coronavirus Delta variant -– which has claimed more than 100,000 cases per day in the US— the United Nations is laying down strict guidelines at its headquarters (UNHQ) for staffers, diplomats and visiting delegates.

Will World Leaders Risk a UN Visit Amid a Surge in the Deadly Virus?

The annual high-level debate during the upcoming 76th General Assembly sessions beginning September 21 —which traditionally attracted over 150 world leaders in a pre-pandemic era-- is now clouded in uncertainty.

A Code Red Warning on the Hazards of Climate Change & an Impending Global Disaster

A landmark report on the hazards of climate change predicts a devastating future for the world at large. Authored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and released August 9, the study is being described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “code red for humanity”— a rallying cry before an impending global disaster.

UN Preaches Transparency to the Outside World but Fails to Practice it in its Own Backyard

The United Nations has long preached the wisdom of transparency and accountability to the outside world, but has failed to practice the same principles in its own backyard – or even on the 39th floor of the Secretary-General’s office in the UN Secretariat.

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