The decision reached by Ecuadorians to put an end to oil production in Yasuní National Park, in a popular referendum in August, was a triumph for civil society and a global milestone in environmental democracy. But when it comes to implementation, the result is less promising.
The UN’s high-level appointments have mostly been on the basis of “equitable geographical rotation”—with Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean taking turns.
As it did last year, the 2023 United Nations General Assembly has been debating what role the United Nations and its members should play in the crisis in Ukraine.
Maryam al-Khawaja’s journey home ended before it had begun: British Airways staff stopped her boarding her flight at the request of Bahraini immigration authorities. Maryam was no regular passenger: her father is veteran human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, in jail in Bahrain for 12 years and counting.
When the heads of state of all United Nations members spoke in front of the UN General Assembly last week, a number of African leaders were not able to attend, having been removed from office in military-led coups.
On September 16 Iranians everywhere commemorated the first anniversary of Mahsa Jina Amini’s murder by the country’s notorious ‘guidance patrol’. Arrested for being badly covered, the 22-year-old was beaten so violently, she died from brain injuries. This violence and the regime’s obfuscation of its crime unleashed a 40-year-long pent-up fury among Iran’s women and girls. Protests ensued in cities and towns across the country’s length and breadth. Young and old men, who in past generations had shown limited empathy for the daily humiliations and systemic discrimination facing women, joined. Amini’s Kurdish origins prompted the mobilization of Iran’s Kurds, Baluch, and other minorities. As protesters’ images flooded social media, the #WomenLifeFreedom movement was born. With the regime cracking down, killing over 500 people, raping, injuring, and threatening countless others, young Iranians’ message to the world was ‘be our voice’. The world responded.
In 2015, the UN’s 193 member states adopted 17 goals for the health of the world that together comprise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be reached worldwide by 2030.
It’s a year since a photo of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini – bruised and in a coma she would never recover from after being arrested by the morality police for her supposedly improperly worn hijab – went viral, sending people onto the streets.
Politically, the United Nations has largely been described as a monumental failure ---with little or no progress in resolving some of the world’s past and ongoing military conflicts and civil wars, including Palestine, Western Sahara, Kashmir, and more recently, Ukraine, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan and Myanmar, among others.
In 2002, the Human Development Report
(UNDP) focused on ‘Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World
’. It was an important discourse then [and still is] that evoked lot of insightful cross-regional exchanges of ideas. It reiterates that politics matter for human development because people everywhere want to be free to determine their destinies, express their views and participate in the decisions that shape their lives.
The recent epidemic of coups in Africa -- including military take-overs in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Gabon-- have triggered the inevitable question: Is multi-party democracy on the retreat?
The Open Society Barometer, an annual global survey from Open Society Foundations, launched September 12, reflects the positive and negative aspects of the state democracy worldwide.
On 26 August, Gabon went through the motions of an election. Official results were announced four days later, in the middle of the night, with the country under curfew. Predictably, incumbent President Ali Bongo, in power since the death of his father and predecessor in 2009, was handed a third term. Fraud allegations were rife, as in previous elections. But this time something unprecedented happened: less than an hour later the military had taken over, and the Bongo family’s 56-year reign had ended.
SDGs and global governance
Sustainable development is the challenge of how to build a society in which humanity can live with dignity in this global environment. The SDGs set 17 goals and 169 targets to achieve sustainable development. Goals 16 and 17 are aimed precisely at building global governance through the formation of global rules. Goal 16 lists 10 specific targets, while Goal 17 lists 19 targets.
Everyone in this world is entitled to 15 minutes of fame-- is a legendary quote mis-attributed to the American pop icon Andy Warhol.
Over the years, the United Nations has laid down its own 15-minute rule for world leaders addressing the UN General Assembly.
When 150+ world leaders, including Presidents and Prime Ministers, arrive in New York to address the high-level segment of the General Assembly beginning September 19, the UN neighborhood will be turned into a veritable war zone.
The streets will be littered with scores of police officers, US secret service personnel, UN security officers, bomb-sniffing dogs, road closures-- and a stand-by ambulance in the UN campus ready to cope with any medical emergencies.
In what has become an all too familiar phenomenon, U.S.-trained security personnel have been implicated in the July 26th coup that deposed Niger’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum.
The United Nations says increased investment in the Sahel region will assist in preventing military coups. This after military officers in Gabon announced a seizure of power from long-time President Ali Bongo Ondimba following the results of a disputed election in Gabon on Wednesday.
When I first travelled to the Middle Belt of Nigeria, I listened to harrowing tales of murdered family members, physical injury, sexual violence, displacement, and hopelessness. In the years that have passed, these stories have only continued to stack up.
On 20 August, Guatemala witnessed a rare event: despite numerous attempts to stop it, the will of the majority prevailed. Democracy was at a dramatic crossroads
, but voters got their say, and said it clearly: the country needs dramatic change and needs it now.
In July of this year, the Taliban issued a decree that resulted in the closure of hair salons and beauty parlors across Afghanistan. This directive aligns with the extreme Islamist policies now governing Afghanistan, which aim to confine women strictly within their homes.
14 June has become a black day for the UN High Forum on The Culture of Peace (HLF-CoP) convened by the successive Presidents of the UN General Assembly since 2012.