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.

A UN Conference Undermined by 11th Hour Withdrawals

When the long-awaited UN conference focusing on the rights and safety of migrants and refugees takes off in Morocco, it will be a rare, if not an unprecedented meeting, for one reason: the withdrawal of at least seven member states almost at the 59th minute of the eleventh hour.

Will Member States Help Offset US Funding Cuts to UN?

The speculation that the Trump administration plans to reduce its mandatory assessed financial contributions to the UN’s regular budget was implicitly confirmed when the US president told delegates last September that Washington “is working to shift more of our funding, from assessed contributions to voluntary contributions, so that we can target American resources to the programs with the best record of success.”

African Nations Show Rare Transparency in Military Spending

When the United Nations began publishing annual reports on arms expenditures, starting in 1981, not all 193 member states voluntarily participated in the exercise in transparency-- primarily because most governments are secretive about their defense spending and their weapons purchases.

E-Commerce Giants Under Fire for Retailing Hazardous Mercury-Based Cosmetics

A coalition of over 50 civil society organizations (CSOs), from more than 20 countries, have urged two of the world’s largest multi-billion dollar E-commerce retailers – Amazon and eBay – to stop marketing “dangerous and illegal mercury-based skin lightening creams.”

Trump’s Anti-Media Rhetoric Resonates Worldwide

A former French president once remarked: Never pick a fight with a little kid or the press. The kid will throw the last stone at you and the press will have the last word.But that obviously does not apply to a teflon-coated Donald Trump because nothing apparently sticks on him – even as he survives a barrage of criticisms from the mainstream media while he continues to utter falsehoods and mouth blatant lies.

Marco Napoli, 86, Ensured the Survival of IPS at UN

Marco Napoli, who passed away on November 6, began his early professional career as a New York-based correspondent for several international news organizations, including the Italian Il Progresso News, back in the 1960s, long before he was Regional Director, IPS North America.

Gay & Lesbian Rights Prove Divisive at Parliamentarians’ Conference

When the International Parliamentarians’ Conference (ICPI) on population and development concluded its two-day forum in the Canadian capital last week, more than 150 legislators from around the world approved a seven page Declaration reaffirming their opposition to some of the culturally sensitive issues, including female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriages.

Canada Takes a Lead Role Funding Reproductive Health, Women’s Rights & Sustainable Development

Canada, which has been described as one of the world’s most progressive countries, has legitimized gay rights, vociferously advocated gender empowerment, offered strong support for abortion rights – and recently became the world’s first major economy to legalize recreational marijuana.

Despite Progress, Over 200 Million Women Still Waiting for Modern Contraception

The international community will be commemorating two milestones in the history of population and development next year: the 50th anniversary of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the 25th anniversary of a Programme of Action (PoA) adopted at the1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.

UN Vote on Palestine a Humiliating Defeat for US & its Envoy

Nikky Haley, the vociferously anti-Palestine US Ambassador to the United Nations, warned member states last year she will “take down names” of those who vote against American interests in the world body—perhaps with the implicit threat of cutting US aid to countries that refuse to play ball with the diplomatically-reckless Trump administration.

Parliamentarians to Assess Population & Development Funding 24 Years After Historic Conference

When international parliamentarians-– both from the developed and developing world— meet in Canada next week, the primary focus would be to assess the implementation of a landmark Programme of Action (PoA) on population and development adopted at a ground breaking UN conference, led by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), held in Cairo back in 1994.

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.

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