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 |

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?

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.

World’s Young Activists at War: First, Occupy Wall Street, Next Un-Occupy Palestine

The world’s young activists, numbering over 3.8 billion, are on the war path. The rising new socialist movements—which included “Black Lives Matter,” “Occupy Wall Street” “Un-Occupy Palestine” and "the #Me Too Movement" triggering women's marches— were aimed at battling racism, institutionalized inequalities, political repression and sexual harassment.

UN Staffers Rattled by Deadly Coronavirus Pandemic

With over 37,500 staffers in its global Secretariat payroll, the United Nations has gone high alert as the deadly coronavirus continues to take a heavy toll worldwide.

New York City, with 8.3 million People, on High Alert to Stall Spread of Deadly Coronavirus

Faced with a potential pandemic of the deadly coronavirus, New York city officials took a series of preventive measures to stall the spread of the disease as it was spinning out of control in China.

US Mideast Peace Plan: Israelis Offered the Cheese & Palestinians the Holes

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has described the much-ballyhooed US Middle East peace plan as “more like Swiss cheese-- with the cheese being offered to the Israelis and the holes to the Palestinians”.

China Ranked World’s Second Largest Arms Producer Trailing Behind US

Donald Trump, the vociferously unpredictable US president, has long chastised China for seeking “unfair” advantage over trade and tariffs, violating intellectual property rights and “manipulating” the country’s currency to its advantage.

When UN’s Cash Crisis Undermines Human Rights, Are the World’s Torturers the Key Beneficiaries?

The UN’s ongoing cash crisis, which has virtually destabilized the Organization’s day-to-day operations, has also undermined the human rights mandate of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC).

UN Chief & Staff Union Predict Another Cash Crisis in 2020—if Member States Don’t Pay Up

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared last week that the United Nations just “managed to survive its deepest financial crisis in a decade.”

Geneva Staff Battles UN Chief over Unequal Pay & Illegal Salary Cuts

As the United Nations commemorates its 75th anniversary this year, the financially-crippled Organization is also saddled with a rash of administrative problems, plus an ongoing cash crisis, perhaps one of the worst in history.

Global Women’s March Hits the Streets of New York

The streets of New York city were the center of the fourth annual Global Women’s March when tens of thousands of women, along with men, joined hands to defend and advance the cause of women’s rights worldwide.

Women Activists Escalate Demand for “Bodily Autonomy” as 19 Nations Dissent

The United States and 18 other UN member states have come under fire for denying a woman’s legitimate right to “bodily autonomy”—the right to self-governance over one’s own body without coercion or external pressure.

Is Iraq Now a Virtual “US-Occupied Territory”?

Pat Buchanan, a senior advisor to three US Presidents and twice candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, once infamously described the United States Congress as “Israeli-occupied territory” -– apparently because of its unrelentingly blind support for the Jewish state.

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