Stories written by Thalif Deen
Thalif Deen, Director & Senior Editor, 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 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. 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. He is a Fulbright scholar with a Master’s Degree (MSc) in Journalism from Columbia University, New York. email: thalifdeen@gmail.com tmd30@columbia.edu | Twitter |

When Old Age Catches Up, Even Nuclear Weapons Go into Retirement

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.

UN Chiefs Silenced by Big Powers with Vetoes

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.

Is the Fight for Human Rights & Racial Justice Overriding the Coronavirus Risk?

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.

Will UN Chief & Senior Management Volunteer Pay Cuts in Crisis-Stricken World Body?

As a spiraling financial crisis threatens to undermine the UN’s day-to-day operations worldwide, a proposal being kicked around, outside the empty corridors of the UN, has triggered the question: will senior officials, including the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General (DSG), Under-Secretaries-Generals (USGs), including 60 heads of UN agencies, Funds and Programs, and Assistant Secretaries-Generals (ASGs), volunteer to take salary cuts— even as a symbolic gesture?

Stay Home? Wash Hands? But 1.8 Billion Remain Homeless & 3.0 Billion Have No Access to Water

The relentless battle against the devastating coronavirus pandemic has been underlined by several widespread advisories from health experts – STAY HOME. WASH YOUR HANDS. WEAR MASK. KEEP SOCIAL DISTANCE.

World’s Poor Hit by Double Jeopardy: a Deadly Virus & a Devastating Debt Burden

The world’s poorer nations, reeling under an unrelenting attack on their fragile economies by the COVID-19 pandemic, have suffered an equally deadly body blow: being buried under heavy debt burdens.

China & India Ranked World’s Biggest Military Spenders Trailing US

China and India, which went to war back in 1962 largely over a disputed Himalayan border-- and continue a longstanding battle for military supremacy in Asia-- have set a new record in arms spending.

UN’s Development Goals Threatened by a World Economy Facing Recession

The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), described as an integral part of its highly-ambitious development agenda, may be in deep trouble.

As US Unemployment Hits a Staggering 22 Million, Will UN Layoffs Be Far Behind?

The deadly coronavirus COVID-19, which has shut down the UN secretariat in New York, along with 32 of its agencies globally, has forced over 37,500 UN staffers worldwide to work from their homes.

In His Fight Against WHO, Trump Plays Politics with Human Lives

President Donald Trump’s threat to abruptly cut all US funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) has been described as ‘reckless and deadly”—particularly at a time when the Geneva-based UN agency was engaged in an uphill battle against the spreading coronavirus.

Modern Day Slavery Reaches a Far Corner of the World

The deadly, fast-spreading coronavirus which upended three key UN conferences—on the empowerment of women, on nuclear disarmament and on indigenous rights—claimed another casualty last week when a commemorative meeting on the transatlantic slave trade was postponed.

White Supremacists, Yellow Peril & “Chinese Virus” Add to a Volatile Political Mix

When US President Donald Trump repeatedly characterized the fast-spreading COVID-19 as a “Chinese virus” last week, it prompted some white supremacists to resurrect an age old ethnic slur against Chinese and East Asians: the “Yellow Peril” which, in a bygone era, was touted as a xenophobic threat to the Western world.

Could the Coronavirus Be a Biological Weapon in the Not-Too-Distant Future?

The devastating spread of the deadly coronavirus across every continent-- with the exception of Antarctica-- has triggered a conspiracy theory on social media: what if the virus was really a biological weapon?

As Virus Spreads, New York City Goes into a Locked Down Mode

As the deadly coronavirus spread across the five boroughs, New York city (NYC) was a on a locked down mode with the closure of public schools, the shutting down of sporting events, restrictions on Broadway shows and limiting the capacity at bars and restaurants.

UN Reaches 90:90 Gender Parity in Senior Leadership Transforming Organizational Culture

The United Nations claims it has reached one of its primary goals relating to women’s rights in the world body: gender parity at senior levels of management and in the highest echelons of the Organization.

Coronavirus Threatens to Wreck Nuclear Review Conference

First, it was the ill-fated annual sessions of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), scheduled for March 9-20, which was undermined by the spreading coronavirus COVID-19.

Coronavirus Claims its First UN Casualty

The deadly coronavirus COVID-19, which is spreading across China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Italy-- along with new cases in Asia, Western Europe and the Middle East-- has claimed one of its first casualties at the United Nations.

UN Accused of “Hypocrisy” Launching Equal Pay Day While Condoning Wage Discrimination

The United Nations, which has long preached the irrefutable concept of income equality to the outside world, is now accused of condoning wage discrimination in its own backyard.

A Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework Aims at Reinforcing Efforts to Save World’s Ecosystem

The UN’s highly-touted socio-economic agenda, which lays out an ambitious global plan for “people, planet and prosperity”, has been dominated by “goals, targets and deadlines.”

As Planet Burns, One Million Species in World’s Eco-System in Danger of Extinction

When UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed the 193-member General Assembly last December, he focused on the smoldering climate crisis-- pointing out that the last five years have been the hottest ever recorded.

A Multi-Billion Dollar US Mideast Arms Market May be in Jeopardy

When President Saddam Hussein ran one of the world’s most authoritarian regimes in the militarily-volatile Middle East during 1979-2003, US newspapers routinely described him as “the strongman of Iraq” — as most journalists rightly view dictators worldwide.

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