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.

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.

Gender Disparity at UN: Three Out of 71, Zero out of Nine

The United Nations has frequently been accused of vociferously preaching gender empowerment and women’s rights to the outside world -- but failing miserably to practice what it preaches in its own political backyard.

Palestinian Rejection Underscores Limits of UN Chief’s Powers

Pointing out an example of the hierarchy of political power at the United Nations, a former Nigerian ambassador once told a group of reporters of an encounter at an international gathering in Africa when he ran into one of his friends who had returned from a visit to New York.

US Threatens to Penalize Allies on UN Voting

The United States and most Western donors have traditionally exercised their financial clout to threaten developing nations who refuse to fall in line on critical UN voting either in the Security Council, the General Assembly or the Human Rights Council.

Ecuador Revives Campaign for UN Tax Body

The Republic of Ecuador, currently chair of the largest single coalition of developing countries at the United Nations, is reviving a longstanding campaign for the creation of an inter-governmental UN tax body and the elimination of tax havens and illicit financial flows.

Right to Information Dead on Arrival at UN

The 193-member UN General Assembly has been dragging its feet on a proposal that has been kicked around the corridors of the United Nations for over 10 years: a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) providing journalists the “right to information” in a sprawling bureaucracy protective of its turf.

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