Opinion

UN Report Details Taliban Abuses in Afghanistan

This week, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, released his first report. It is a catalog of abuses under Taliban rule since August 2021 and their devastating impact on Afghans.

Afghanistan: The Year of Illusions

Afghanistan is where history has taken it! The Trump-Taliban "Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan," signed on 29 February 2020, is deemed by many as the submission of a superpower to a group that had perpetrated acts of extreme ferocity and terror.

Pakistan’s Climate Catastrophe: Lessons for the World

Monsoon flooding has occurred often in Pakistan but never to the catastrophic extent presently happening. A distinguishing feature of this disaster is that no one blames the flooding’s unprecedented intensity and destructiveness on anything but climate heating. The clear link between the warming atmosphere and the frequency and duration of extreme weather events of this scale should not be lost on the rest of the world.

Eight International Development Priorities for the new UK Prime Minister

The UK’s new Prime Minister (and former Foreign Secretary), Liz Truss, enters Downing Street with a full and urgent in-tray, dominated by the highest inflation rate for 40 years and concerns across the country about the cost-of-living crisis.

1980s’ Redux? New context, Old Threats

As rich countries raise interest rates in double-edged efforts to address inflation, developing countries are struggling to cope with slowdowns, inflation, higher interest rates and other costs, plus growing debt distress.

The Right Policies Can Protect the Workers of Asia and the Pacific

Most of the 2.1 billion strong workforce in Asia and the Pacific are denied access to decent jobs, health care and social protection but there is an array polices and tools that governments can use to remedy these deficiencies and ensure that the rights and aspirations of these workers and their families are upheld and that they remain the engine of economic growth for the region.

The Dying Children Divide

The chances of a child dying before reaching age five years have dropped substantially worldwide during the recent past. However, a significant divide remains among countries as well as within regions in the chances of children dying.

A Plea for the Creation of a UN Youth Assembly

There are many ways the UN can have a sizeable role in promoting the engagement and participation of youth and helping them becoming a central pillar of a new way of doing policy-making.

Transforming Girls’ Education, Changing The World

As we approach this year’s Transforming Education Summit, global leaders can and must prioritize expertise and mobilize political will to support efforts to ensure inclusive and quality education for all, especially girls. This is at the heart of Sustainable Development Goal 4 in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the commitments made in the Charlevoix Declaration and the G7 Declaration on Girls’ Education.

Air Pollution Kills Millions Every Year: Action Needed

Tarik, age 42, lives in a village adjacent to a decades-old coal power plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the day we visited, Bosnian cities were some of the most polluted places on Earth. Describing the devastating health toll the air pollution took each year on the village’s older residents he voiced his fear for his aging parents, who had lived there for over 40 years: “The older people in this village are desperate. They put up with this air for months. They don’t get out, they don’t socialize, they can’t get groceries or medication. It’s a terrible existence.”

100 Million People with Long COVID is a Crisis We Must Address

More than two-years in, the COVID-19 pandemic rages on with rising cases and deaths every day.  A silent and more long-term pandemic occurring simultaneously is long COVID. The impact of long COVID has serious consequences for the future of humanity and should worry us all.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the Last Statesman

With the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last great statesman, and an entire epoch, disappears.

Monster Monsoon: “Pakistan and Its People Are Paying the Costs of What They Are Not Responsible For.”

Pakistan has been going through the worst time of its recent history due to unprecedented colossal monsoon rains and devastating floods. The current floods would have been expected less than once a century, but climate experts claim that what we are seeing today is just a trailer of what’s in store for us if we don’t pay heed to climate change. More than 112 districts are currently afffected and around 30 million people; their property and land are totally devastated. Across the country, where hundreds of thousands of cattle died due to the Lumpy Skin Disease, now more than 727,000 have perished due to floods and rains. The number is increasing rapidly.

Shaping Our Digital Future

Asia and the Pacific is the most digitally divided region of the world, and South-East Asia is the most divided subregion. The Covid-19 pandemic detonated a “digital big bang” that spurred people, governments and businesses to become “digital by default;” a sea change that generated vast digital dividends. These benefits that have not been distributed equally, however. New development gaps have emerged as digital transformation reinforces a vicious cycle of socioeconomic inequalities, within and across countries.

How France Underdevelops Africa

Most sub-Saharan African French colonies got formal independence in the 1960s. But their economies have progressed little, leaving most people in poverty, and generally worse off than in other post-colonial African economies. Decolonization? Pre-Second World War colonial monetary arrangements were consolidated into the Colonies Françaises d’Afrique (CFA) franc zone set up on 26 December 1945. Decolonization became inevitable after France’s defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and withdrawal from Algeria less than a decade later.

The Journey to Defend Human Rights Never Ends

As you know, after four years as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, my mandate ends next week, on 31 August. The world has changed fundamentally over the course of my mandate.

Environmental Racism and Social Injustice at Camp Lejeune and Other Military Bases

Built in 1942 and still operating today, Camp Lejeune is a military base covering over 153,000 acres in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Shortly after it was founded, it became heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals like perchloroethylene, benzene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, and later on PFAS. However, the military only realized the severity of the issue in 1982, when the Marine Corps discovered volatile organic compounds on base.

Keeping Hope Afloat in a Sea of Uncertainty

“I think I’m making a difference. I’m really helping,” Hanadi tells me, as she reflects on her work in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan.

Thinking Like a Tree – A Tribute to Life Sustainers

When I was a child, a friend asked me: “How would you describe a tree to someone who has never seen one?” I looked at the trees surrounding us and realised it was impossible, considering their versatility, beauty and utter strangeness. Since that time, I have often wondered about trees, as well as I have been worried by the indiscriminate destruction of trees and forests.

A Stress Test for Nuclear Deterrence

This month, the Tenth Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is taking place in New York (and scheduled to conclude August 26). The meeting of states parties, postponed four times because of the Covid-19 pandemic, had originally been scheduled for April 2020.

Celebrating 30 Years of Shared Water

We tend to associate rivers and lakes with the countries in which they are located. Yet a little-known fact is that more than half of the world’s freshwater bodies are shared.

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