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 |

Will a Second Term for Guterres Undermine Campaign for First Female UN Chief in 76 Years?

The United Nations has been one of the most vociferous advocates of gender empowerment and a persistent critic of gender discrimination worldwide.

Storming of Capitol Hill Reminiscent of a Banana Republic

The storming of Capitol Hill in Washington DC by an unruly mob is reminiscent of an insurrection in a “banana republic” --as hilariously portrayed in the 1971 Woody Allen comedy “Bananas” spoofing a revolt in a fictional Latin American country.

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine a Potential Biological Weapon in Reverse?

If the coronavirus is not deemed a biological weapon, is the heavily-publicized Covid-19 vaccine in danger of being weaponized when over 159,000 Palestinians who have tested positive in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are being denied treatment during a deadly pandemic?

The Night Arafat, Facing Death Threats, Slept in the UN Chief’s Office

The United Nations, which is commemorating its 75th anniversary, continues to remain bogged down in one of the world’s most politically and militarily volatile regions: the Middle East.

A Vaccine That Was Hijacked by the Rich

There is a longstanding belief that virtually everything in this world is stacked up against the poor and the downtrodden. The Covid-19 vaccine is no exception because some of world’s richest nations, including the US, Canada and UK, seem to have cornered most of the supplies -- whilst marginalizing the world’s poorer nations.

A UN Power Monopoly That Cries Out for a Break

Will four strong contenders for permanent seats in the UN Security Council (UNSC)-- Germany, India, Japan and Brazil—help break the monopoly now being held by the big five, namely the US, UK, France, China and Russia?

When Big Powers Clash, the UN’s Most Powerful Body Disappears

At the height of the Cold War back in the 1960s, a Peruvian diplomat, Dr. Victor Andres Belaunde, characterized the United Nations as a politically wobbly institution that survives only at the will-- and pleasure-- of the five big powers.

UN Warns of an Impending Famine With Millions in Danger of Starvation

The numbers are staggering— as reflected in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has triggered a new round of food shortages, famine and starvation.

A Potential Weapon Kills Over 1.5 Million Worldwide –Without a Single Shot Being Fired

The world’s major military powers exercise their dominance largely because of their massive weapons arsenals, including sophisticated fighter planes, drones, ballistic missiles, warships, battle tanks, heavy artillery—and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

Trump’s “America First” Foreign Policy Faces an Unceremonious Burial

The ouster of Donald Trump from the US presidency last week may well be the dawn of a new era for multilateralism – and perhaps for a besieged United Nations— after nearly four years of misguided political rhetoric emerging from the White House.

UN’s $5.1 Billion Shortfall Threatens Operations Worldwide

When the United Nations was struggling to cope with a cash crisis back in April 1996, one of the many drastic measures it undertook was to cut down on its staff.

Nuclear Arms Control in Crisis While US Exerts Pressure on Treaty Signatories

Responding to a question, Albert Einstein, the German-born physicist who won the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics, predicted rather ominously: “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

UN Survives a World Turned Upside Down

As the United Nations plans to commemorate its annual UN Day, come October 24, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is presiding over a world body which has remained locked down since last March because of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Global Poverty Soars– As Incomes of World’s Billionaires Hit New Highs

The phenomenal rise in extreme poverty -– for the first time in 20 years -- has been accompanied by an upsurge in the incomes of the world’s billionaires and the super-rich.

Nobel Peace Prize to World Food Programme Delivering Life-Saving Sustenance to Millions Worldwide

With the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize bestowed on the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations and its affiliated agencies continue to hold a monopoly of one of the world’s most prestigious annual awards.

A 10-Year-Old Commitment to Biodiversity Misses Virtually All of its Targets

The coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of over one million people worldwide and destabilized the global economy, also upended the UN’s ambitious socio-economic goals, including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

What UN Needs is a Cease-Fire Inside its own Security Council

With more than 20,000 civilians killed last year in conflicts in 10 countries — including Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen-- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his call for a “global cease-fire”: a proposal which failed to generate a positive response since he first announced it last March.

After 75 Years, UN Claims 50:50 Gender Parity, But Falls Short of its Ultimate Goals

When the United Nations was dominated by men, holding some of the highest positions in the staff hierarchy, women staffers were overwhelmingly administrative secretaries seen pounding on their Remington typewriters seated outside their bosses’ enclosed offices.

Will Trump Threaten to Pullout or De-fund the United Nations?

Back in 1998, Senator Jesse Helms, a rightwing Republican from the US state of North Carolina, carried out a virulent one-man hate-campaign against the UN-- and its very presence in New York.

World Risks Losing Entire Generation of Children, Nobel Laureates Warn

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of millions of people worldwide, accounted for over 869,000 deaths, destabilised the global economy and triggered a marked rise in poverty and hunger in the developing world. But the fallout from one of the most devastating consequences of the spreading virus is on the lives of a growing new generation: children.

Racism at the UN: Practice What You Preach

When two recent staff surveys, one in Geneva and the other in New York, revealed widespread racism at the United Nations, it triggered the obvious question: why shouldn’t the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) probe these charges?

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