Stories written by Thalif Deen
Thalif Deen, UN Bureau Chief and Regional Director IPS North America, has been covering the U.N. since the late 1970s. A former deputy news editor of the Sri Lanka Daily News, he was a senior editorial writer on the Hongkong daily, The Standard. He has been runner-up and 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 part of an IPS team which who won the prestigious gold award for reporting on the global environment-- and in 2013, he shared the gold medal with the Associated Press for his reporting on the humanitarian and development work of the United Nations. A former information officer at the U.N. Secretariat, and a one-time member of the Sri Lanka delegation to the U.N. General Assembly sessions, Deen is currently editor in chief of the IPS U.N. Terra Viva daily electronic newsletter, published since March 1993. Since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, he has covered virtually every single major U.N. conference: on population, human rights, the environment, social development, food security, water, energy and education. A former military editor Middle East/Africa at Jane’s Information Group in the U.S, a columnist for the Sri Lanka Sunday Times and a longtime U.N. correspondent for Asiaweek, Hongkong and Jane's Defence Weekly, London, he is a Fulbright scholar with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, New York.

Developing Nations Set to Hit Back at New York City Banks

The Group of 77, the largest single coalition of developing countries, is hitting back at New York City banks that arbitrarily cancelled the accounts of more than 70 overseas diplomatic missions, leaving ambassadors, senior and junior diplomats and non-diplomatic staff without banking facilities.

Ban on Nuke Tests OK, But Where’s the Ban on Nuke Weapons?

As the United Nations commemorated the International Day Against Nuclear Tests this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lamented the fact that in a world threatened by some 17,000 nuclear weapons, not a single one has been destroyed so far.

IPS at 50, Leads That Don’t Bleed

Tarzie Vittachi, a renowned Sri Lankan newspaper editor and one-time deputy executive director of the U.N. children's agency UNICEF, once recounted the oft-quoted story of an African diplomat who sought his help to get coverage in the U.S. media for his prime minister's address to the General Assembly.

U.N. Conference Set to Bypass Climate Change Refugees

An international conference on small island developing states (SIDS), scheduled to take place in Samoa next week, will bypass a politically sensitive issue: a proposal to create a new category of "environmental refugees" fleeing tiny island nations threatened by rising seas.

Israel, Hamas Set to Escape War Crimes Charges

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a rare moment of political candour, lashed out at Israel last week, questioning its "respect for the principles of distinction and proportionality" - particularly in the context of the civilian death toll that kept rising to over 2,000 Palestinians, with more than 75 percent civilians.

No Victors or Vanquished in Brutal Gaza Conflict

As the dust - and the gunpowder - settles after the month-long devastating conflict in Gaza, there were apparently no victors or vanquished.

Swamped by Rising Seas, Small Islands Seek a Lifeline

The world's 52 small island developing states (SIDS), some in danger of being wiped off the face of the earth because of sea-level rise triggered by climate change, will be the focus of an international conference in the South Pacific island nation of Samoa next month.

Israel Bites Hand that Feeds, U.S. Feeds Hand that Bites

There is an age-old axiom in politics, says a cynical Asian diplomat, that you don't bite the hand that feeds you.

U.N.’s “Responsibility to Protect” Another Casualty in Gaza

When world political leaders met at the United Nations back in 2005, they unanimously adopted a resolution affirming the principle of "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P), aimed primarily at safeguarding innocent civilians from war crimes, genocide, mass atrocities and ethnic cleansing.

Ticking Diplomatic Clock a Cover for Israeli Assaults on Gaza

As the death toll in Gaza keeps climbing - and charges of alleged war crimes against Israel keep mounting - the most powerful political body at the United Nations remains ineffective, impotent and in a state of near paralysis.

Israel’s U.S.-Made Military Might Overwhelms Palestinians

The overwhelming Israeli firepower unleashed on the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the ongoing battle in Gaza is perhaps reminiscent of the Algerian war of independence (1954-1962) when France, the colonial power, used its vastly superior military strength to strike back at the insurgents with brutal ferocity.

Why No Vetoed Resolutions on Civilian Killings in Gaza?

As the civil war in Syria continues into its fourth year, the Western nations sitting on the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) have unsuccessfully tried to condemn the killings of civilians, impose punitive sanctions and accuse the Syrian government of war crimes - in four vetoed and failed resolutions.

U.N.’s New Development Goals Must Also Be Measurable for Rich

The United Nations is on the verge of releasing a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - perhaps 17 or more - to replace the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which will run out by the end of 2015.

Proposed Arms Embargo on Syria a Political Mockery

When the 15-member Security Council, the most powerful body at the United Nations, fails to resolve a military conflict, it invariably exercises one of its tried, and mostly failed, options: punish the warring parties by imposing punitive sanctions.

Reproductive Rights to Take Centre Stage at U.N. Special Session

As the United Nations continues negotiations on a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for its post-2015 development agenda, population experts are hoping reproductive health will be given significant recognition in the final line-up of the goals later this year.

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