When the United Nations was struggling to cope with a cash crisis back in April 1996, one of the many drastic measures it undertook was to cut down on its staff.
Responding to a question, Albert Einstein, the German-born physicist who won the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics, predicted rather ominously: “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
As the United Nations plans to commemorate its annual UN Day, come October 24, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is presiding over a world body which has remained locked down since last March because of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.
The phenomenal rise in extreme poverty -– for the first time in 20 years -- has been accompanied by an upsurge in the incomes of the world’s billionaires and the super-rich.
With the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize bestowed on the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations and its affiliated agencies continue to hold a monopoly of one of the world’s most prestigious annual awards.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of over one million people worldwide and destabilized the global economy, also upended the UN’s ambitious socio-economic goals, including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.
With more than 20,000 civilians killed last year in conflicts in 10 countries — including Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen-- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his call for a “global cease-fire”: a proposal which failed to generate a positive response since he first announced it last March.
When the United Nations was dominated by men, holding some of the highest positions in the staff hierarchy, women staffers were overwhelmingly administrative secretaries seen pounding on their Remington typewriters seated outside their bosses’ enclosed offices.
Back in 1998, Senator Jesse Helms, a rightwing Republican from the US state of North Carolina, carried out a virulent one-man hate-campaign against the UN-- and its very presence in New York.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of millions of people worldwide, accounted for over 869,000 deaths, destabilised the global economy and triggered a marked rise in poverty and hunger in the developing world.
But the fallout from one of the most devastating consequences of the spreading virus is on the lives of a growing new generation: children.
When two recent staff surveys, one in Geneva and the other in New York, revealed widespread racism at the United Nations, it triggered the obvious question: why shouldn’t the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) probe these charges?
As it continues to vociferously preach the virtues of equality—advocating equal rights for all, irrespective of race, sex, language or religion-- the United Nations has been quick to condemn racism and racial discrimination worldwide.
There is no love lost between the United Nations and US President Donald Trump.
When he addressed the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly in September 2018, Trump falsely told delegates that "in less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country"
When the coronavirus pandemic delivered a mortal blow to the United States, grounding the country to a virtual standstill and throwing its economy into a deep recession, hundreds and thousands were forced to work “remotely” while offices remained shuttered, beginning late March.
The United Nations has been relentlessly pursuing a highly-ambitious blueprint for the sustainable future of humanity –harking back to the adoption of a new global economic agenda by the General Assembly back in 2015.
The coronavirus—which has claimed the lives of over 538,000 people and infected more than 11.6 million worldwide—has destabilized virtually every facet of human life ever since its outbreak in late December.
The ongoing battle between China and the United States is threatening to paralyze the most powerful body at the United Nations – the 15-member Security Council (UNSC)—which has virtually gone MIA (missing in action) on some of the key politically-sensitive issues of the day.
The coronavirus pandemic is beginning to transform the United Nations into an institution far beyond recognition.
The Secretariat building has been shut down since mid-March, and the UN campus will continue to remain a ghost town through end July-- and perhaps beyond-- with nearly 3,000 staffers, delegates and journalists working, mostly from home.
The world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons—estimated at over 13,400 at the beginning of 2020 – have a least one thing in common with humans: they are “retired” when they reach old age.
The massive protests in more than 120 US cities over racial injustice and police brutality went global last week-- amidst presidential threats of military force on demonstrators in Washington DC.
The deadly coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of over 372,000 people worldwide, has reinforced the concept of “social distancing” which bars any gathering of over 10 or 20 people – whether at a social event, a wedding, a political rally or even a funeral.