IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse

Reform of the United Nations Organization

The US detains essential keys to the political and economic stability of the planet. The last four years have been challenging for Americans, their allies, and the rest of the world.

COVID-19 – Some 23.8 Million More Children Will Drop out of School

Countries with low human development are facing the brunt of school lockdowns, with more than 85 percent of their students effectively out of school by the second quarter of 2020, according to a United Nations policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on education.

The UN General Assembly: A 75-Year Journey Towards the Future We Want

The United Nations came into existence at a time of great despair, when the penholders of its founding document dared to imagine a better world, one that would be defined by peace and equality. Visionary world leaders chose hope over cynicism, empathy over indifference and partnership over distrust when they came together in San Francisco on 26 June 1945 to sign the Charter of the United Nations. They embarked upon a new, rules-based world order, with an Organization of unrivalled legitimacy at its core.

The Charter of the United Nations: Ideals for Shaping Our Reality

“Reconciling the requirements of the ideal with the possibilities of the real": this is how Georges Bidault, Minister for Foreign Affairs and head of the French delegation to the San Francisco Conference, summed up the objective pursued by the drafters of the Charter of the United Nations. On the still living ashes of the Second World War, the fathers of an Organization charged with developing friendly relations between nations, promoting human rights and economic and social progress were less utopian than visionary. They understood that the community of States should have a common constitution. It has been tested by conflict, crisis and upheaval, but its resilience and strength have shaped the very structure of contemporary international relations.

Modern Tools, Age-old Wisdom: on India-Sri Lanka Relations

The unique India-Sri Lanka relationship, de jure, is between equals as sovereign nations. But it’s asymmetric in terms of geographic size, population, military and economic power, on the one hand, and social indicators and geographical location, on the other. It is steeped in myth and legend, and influenced by religious, cultural and social affinities.

Southeast Asia Has a Chance to Build Back Better Post-Pandemic

Southeast Asia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been efficient, but some areas such as data privacy, measures to go back to normalcy after lockdown is lifted, and resources for migrant or transient populations will need addressing. 

Statue Smashing – Heroes, Values and Racism

On Friday the 24th of June, President Trump announced he was skipping a weekend at his New Jersey golf resort to ”ensure law and order in Washington”, tweeting:
    I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues – and combatting recent Criminal Violence. Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!

Coronavirus – Urban Areas Face the Brunt of the Pandemic

The effect of the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent global lockdown might have a graver effect on cities and urban areas than on rural areas, possibly making women more susceptible to violence.

Reflections on the Charter of the United Nations on its 75th Anniversary

This year we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations, written and signed during a period of great global change. Today, the world is again shifting beneath our feet. Yet, the Charter remains a firm foundation for our joint efforts.

Ride-Hailing App Delivers Contraceptives to Users’ Doorsteps

When Betty Nagadya walks through the trading centre on her way home, she sings a song in the local Luganda language: “SafeBoda, SafeBoda, who needs a helmet?” she sings. “For those who feel cold, I have a coat for you.” But her song is not about clothing – it’s about condoms.

Myanmar’s Protection Bill falls Short of Addressing Violence against Women

A legislation that aims to protect women against violence in Myanmar, while long overdue, is raising concern among human rights advocates about its inadequate definition of rape, vague definition for “consent”, and anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rhetoric.

The Charter of the United Nations After 75 Years: Personal Reflections

The Charter of the United Nations is not only the constituent instrument of the United Nations as an organization. It is a multilateral legal manifesto encompassing a set of basic principles and norms aimed at ensuring peace, freedom, development, equality and human rights throughout the world. These principles and norms reflect the shared values proclaimed in the preamble on behalf of the “Peoples of the United Nations”. As such, it is the most innovative and trailblazing multilateral treaty ever concluded among States. Today, it is a universal instrument by which all States have solemnly accepted to be bound in their international relations.

If UN is Working “Full Throttle” While Locked Down, Shouldn’t Most Staffers Work from Home –Permanently?

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.

Trump the Wannabe Dictator

I, like many of my fellow Americans, am extremely concerned about Trump’s dictatorial tendencies. Given his behavior – what he said and did over the past four years – he may well act on some of these tendencies, especially if he loses the election by a narrow margin.

Marking 75 Years of the Charter of the United Nations

The Charter of the United Nations has been a constant presence in my life. My awareness of it started with the usual brief introduction to the basics of the United Nations as an organization that many young people receive in school. Later, as my political awareness took shape against the backdrop of military rule in Portugal and my country’s status as a colonial power, the Charter’s calls for self-determination and other freedoms registered with urgency. During the time I spent as a volunteer in the poor neighbourhoods of Lisbon, the Charter’s vision of social justice was equally resonant. In subsequent service as a parliamentarian and then as Prime Minister, I was privileged to have an opportunity to advance not only national progress but one of the Charter’s other main objectives: international cooperation. Across a decade as High Commissioner for Refugees and now in my current role, the Charter’s power inspires me onward every day in serving “we the peoples”, including the most vulnerable members of the human family, who have a special claim on that landmark document’s provisions and protections.

COVID-19 Impact Means Women and Girls Will Still Eat Last, Be Educated Last

Catherine Bertini, former executive director of the World Food Programme, began the IPS United Nations Bureau webinar “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women and Girls” by reminiscing on a talk she gave in 1995 entitled “Women eat last”. She remarked that after 25 years, the phrase is still something that is relevant to the present day.

Tobacco Industry Factoid on Illicit Trade Leading Governments Astray

A factoid is unreliable information repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact. One such factoid repeatedly echoed across the globe by the tobacco industry is that tobacco tax increases worsen cigarette smuggling.

The United Nations At 75 Remains The World’s Moral Compass

“The vision and promise of the United Nations is that food, healthcare, water and sanitation, education, decent work and social security are not commodities for sale to those who can afford them, but basic human rights to which we are all entitled.” Those were the poignant words of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in a hard hitting speech on 18 July 2020 to mark Mandela Day.

Relevance of US Peace Corps in Post-COVID World

I have had 5-decade long and happy association with the Peace Corps since I was a 7th grade student in the hills of Nepal. My wonderful Peace Corps teachers were instrumental in helping transform my life. And the 4000+ Peace Corps Volunteers who have served in Nepal have contributed immensely to my country’s development.

World Poverty: We Have Come So Far… But So Much Further To Go

The United Nations’ first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is “No poverty,” the most important because almost half the world, 46%, lives on less than $5.50 a day according to the World Bank. But world attention has turned away from poverty. Why?

US, UK, Interpol Give Ghana Phone Hacking Tools, Raising Journalist Concerns on Safety & Confidentiality

In May 2019, senior members of Ghana’s law enforcement posed for photos with the U.S. ambassador to their country at a ceremony in the capital, Accra. Between them they held boxes and bags, gifts from the U.S. government to Ghana which, according to one of the recipients, contained Israeli phone hacking technology.

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