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

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.

After Vilifying the UN, US Returns to the World Body

Ed Koch, a sharp-tongued Mayor of New York city (1978-89), once stopped short of using a four-letter word to denounce the United Nations. Instead, he opted for a five-letter word dismissing the UN as a “sewer” relegating it to the lower depths of degradation.

Is it Time to Create a UN Political Body for Climate Change?

As a wisecracking cynic once remarked: “The sun would never set on the British empire because God wouldn’t trust an Englishman in the dark“. Perhaps it was an uncharitable remark because most of the British colonies have long gone.

US Holds UNICEF Monopoly for 74 Years – in a World Body Where Money Talks

With Henrietta Fore's decision last week to step down as UNICEF Executive Director, her successor is most likely to be another American since that post has been held-- uninterruptedly -- by US nationals for almost 74 years, an unprecedented all-time record for a high-ranking job in the UN system.

“No Comment — & Don’t Quote me on That”

When a Southeast Asian ambassador hosted a lunch for journalists, including reporters from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, he told us there was an ulterior motive for the sumptuous lunch at his residence.

UN Ready for Breakaway Nations but the Pace Remains Slow

When the United Nations renovated its building at a cost of over $2.1 billion, as part of a seven-year refurbishing project back in 2014, the seating in the cavernous General Assembly hall was increased from 193 to 204—primarily in anticipation of at least 11 new member states joining the world body sooner or later.

UN’s Double Standard on Human Rights Abusers Protects Big Powers

When the UN’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict was released last week, it was expected to “name and shame” some of the world’s worst human rights violators – particularly the abusers of children.

World’s Nuclear Arms on High Operational Alert — & Ready to Strike

The world’s nine nuclear armed states have downsized their military arsenals, but made up for their loss by increasing the number of weapons on high operational alert, according to a new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Is the UN Fighting a Losing Battle Against World’s Corrupt Leaders?

A hilarious anecdote, recounted in the New York Times years ago, related to the widespread corruption embedded in the political culture of a Southeast Asian country where crooked politicians were willing to provide receipts every time they received a bribe—big time bribes.

UN’s Battle Against Climate Hazards Undermined by a Devastating Pandemic

The United Nations has been in the forefront of an ongoing battle against the growing hazards of climate change, including the destruction of different species of plants and animals, the danger of rising sea-levels threatening the very existence of small island developing states (SIDS), and the risks of oceans reaching record temperatures endangering aquatic resources.

The Devastating Gun Battle in Gaza is Being Fought in an Uneven Killing Field

In most civil wars and military conflicts across the politically-volatile Middle East, including in Syria, Yemen and Palestine, the ongoing battles are being fought not on a level playing field but on an uneven killing field.

US Casts 45 Vetoes – and Counting—While Protecting a Client State

The UN Security Council (UNSC), the most powerful political body at the United Nations, has largely remained silent or ineffective in resolving one of the longstanding military conflicts in the Middle East involving Israelis and Palestinians.

Is the Campaign for a Female UN Chief a Good Try in a Lost Cause?

As negotiations for the upcoming election—or re-election-- of a UN Secretary-General gather momentum, one undeniable fact looms heavily over the final decision: the choice of a UN chief is the intellectual birthright of the five big permanent members (P5) of the Security Council, namely, the US, UK, France, China and Russia.

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