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

Russian Invasion Blamed for 44 Million People Marching Towards Hunger & Starvation

The Russian invasion of Ukraine last February has triggered multiple crises in several fronts: the deaths of thousands of civilians, the destruction of heavily populated cities, the rise in military spending in Europe, a projected decline in development assistance to the world’s poorer nations; the demolition of schools and health-care facilities — and now the threat of hunger and starvation.

UN Continues Financial Ties with a Vilified Russia Isolated by the International Community

The Russian Federation, which invaded Ukraine last February killing scores of civilians and destroying entire cities, has been condemned, vilified and ostracized by the international community. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was emphatic last month when he remarked: “The use of force by one country against another is the repudiation of the principles that every country has committed to uphold. This applies to the present military offensive. It is wrong. It is against the Charter. It is unacceptable”.

A Move to Undermine the Anachronistic Veto Powers in the Security Council Gains Traction

The five permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council (UNSC) – UK, US, France, China and Russia – have exercised their veto powers primarily to protect their own national interests or the interests of their close political and military allies.

War in Ukraine & Rise in Arms Spending Undermine Development Aid to the World’s Poor

The unprecedented flow of arms to Ukraine, and the rising miliary spending by European nations to strengthen their defenses, are threatening to undermine development aid to the world’s poorer nations.

New York City, Shaken by the Pandemic, is Hit by a Crime Wave

New York City, which was on a virtual lockdown for nearly two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic, has now been hit a crime wave.

Ukrainian President’s Plea: Expel Russia or be Ready to Close Down the UN

A legendary quote attributed to Joseph Stalin most likely applies to the United Nations too. “How many divisions does the Pope have?” asked the Soviet leader, interrupting a speech by Winston Churchill in a bygone era.

A Battle Between a UN Chief & US Envoy Ends in a Decisive Blow with an American Veto

When Madeleine Albright was nominated to be the first female US Secretary of State back in 1997, some apparently questioned whether “a woman could go toe-to-toe with world leaders”. “Madeleine quickly quashed those misguided doubts,” says Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a tribute to Albright, who passed away last week at the age of 84. “There was simply no doubt that, in any room, she was as tough as anyone and often tougher. That said, it wasn’t always easy.”

As Yemen Continues to be Devastated in an eight-year-old Conflict, a UN Pledging Conference Attracts only one Arab Donor

When North and South Yemen merged into a single country ushering in the Republic of Yemen back in May 1990, a British newspaper remarked with a tinge of sarcasm: “Two poor countries have now become one poor country.” Described as the poorest in an oil-blessed Middle East, Yemen continues to be categorized by the United Nations as one of the 46 least developed countries (LDCs), “poorest of the world’s poor” depending heavily on humanitarian aid while battling for economic survival.

Don’t Risk our Multi-Billion Dollar Pension Fund in Wall Street, Warn UN Staffers

The United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF), which is expected to provide retirement, death, disability and related benefits for staff, upon cessation of their services-- has a staggering portfolio amounting to over $81.5 billion ranking far, far ahead of the UN’s annual budget of $3.1 billion and its average peacekeeping budget of over $6.4 billion.

UN Re-Surfaces After Long Pandemic Lay-off

After several on-again and off-again pandemic lockdowns, the United Nations is planning to return to normal beginning this week. A circular from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on March 11 says “based on the new guidelines, we are now able to institute associated changes in our workplace, returning to full operational capability while still prioritizing the health and safety of personnel, and balancing the operational needs of the Organization”.

Ukraine Challenges Legitimacy of Russia’s UN Membership

The overwhelming condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine—which triggered a veto from Russia and an abstention from China last week – has raised a challenging question about the legitimacy of UN memberships of both countries which are permanent members of the Security Council.

UN’s Political Hypocrisy– as Multi-Million Dollar Purchases Continue from a Blacklisted Russia

The world’s financial institutions, primarily in the US and Europe, have cut off links and economically ostracized Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and violation of the UN charter.

Will Russia Follow USSR Expelled from League of Nations for Invading Finland in a Bygone Era?

The Russian Federation, condemned worldwide for invading a founding member of the United Nations-- and violating the UN charter-- came under heavy fire during a rare Emergency Special Session of the 193-member General Assembly, the highest policy-making body in the Organization.

World’s Custodian of Peace Remains Glaringly Irrelevant

As a new political twist to an old saying goes: the dogs bark but the military caravan moves on. Despite ominous warnings from an overwhelming majority of member states both in the General Assembly and the Security Council— against a military attack on Ukraine —Russian President Vladimir Putin stood defiant when he ordered a full-scale invasion of a sovereign territory.

If Security Council Fails, Violation of UN Charter Should Go Before International Court of Justice

The widening political crisis in Ukraine, which has taken a turn for the worse with the declaration of two new independent states—the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic -- is likely to prove once again the ineffectiveness of the 15-member UN Security Council (UNSC).

Is Big Power Rivalry Threatening to Sink the Indian Ocean Zone of Peace?

A former Indian ambassador once told an American audience that one of the biggest misconceptions about the Indian Ocean is that it belongs to India. “Not so, but we wish we did”, he said, amidst laughter.

UN’s Investigative Arm Launches Survey to Probe Racism & Discrimination in World Body

The Joint Inspection Unit (JIU)-- the UN’s only independent external oversight body mandated to conduct evaluations, inspections and investigations-- is conducting a survey probing the widespread racism and discrimination in the world body.

Is it Time to Bar Coup Leaders from the UN?

A rash of military coups in Africa has resurrected a long dormant question: should leaders who take power through armed insurrections be barred from addressing the United Nations—an institution which swears by, and promotes, multi-party democracy?

A Special Adviser to Probe Racism and Discrimination at UN

“Racism and discrimination have no place in our world -- least of all at the United Nations”, warns UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who will soon appoint a Special Adviser to investigate the growing discrimination based on racial, national or ethnic origins in the world body.

Battle for Palestine: & the Day When David Felled Goliath with a Stone

When Israeli Ambassador Gilat Erdan made an unusual presentation before the Security Council last week displaying a large rock, which he claimed, was hurled at Israeli vehicles in the Occupied Territories, a reporter at a UN press conference asked whether Palestinians will be given the right of reply--- by displaying in the Security Council chamber an Uzi sub- machine gun or a bulldozer deployed by Israeli armed forces against civilian demonstrations.

You Cannot Run New York City from Home, Says Mayor

When hundreds of banks, commercial enterprises, financial institutions and Wall Street investment banks shuttered their offices because of spreading coronavirus infections, Mayor Eric Adams said “You cannot run New York City” – one of the world’s most vibrant cities – “from home”.

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