Democracy

Argentina Plunges into the Unknown

For many of Argentina’s voters the choice on 19 November was between the lesser of two evils: Sergio Massa, the minister overseeing an economy with the world’s third-highest inflation rate, or Javier Milei, an erratic far-right libertarian outsider promising to shut down the Central Bank, adopt the US dollar as the currency, cut taxes and privatise public services.

Autocracy on the Rise, Warn Civil Society Groups, Seeking UN Expert on Democracy

The rise in authoritarianism worldwide has prompted a coalition of over 85 civil society organizations (CSOs) to call on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to appoint a Special Rapporteur—an independent UN expert-- to protect democracy and reverse its decline. The joint appeal comes ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which will be commemorated on 10 December 2023.

What Will Tomorrow’s World Order Look Like?

Ukraine, the Caucasus and the Middle East. The latest eruptions of violence mark the end of Pax Americana. The rise of new powers is shifting the global balance of power. Whether tomorrow’s world will be bipolar or multipolar still remains to be seen.

The World’s Right-Wing & Left-Wing Torturers

Jeanne Kirkpatrick, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, once made the distinction between "friendly" right-wing authoritarian regimes (which were mostly U.S. and Western allies) and "unfriendly" left-wing totalitarian dictatorships (which the U.S. abhorred). Among the “dictators” the U.S. shunned in the 1970s and 80s were Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, Myanmar's General Than Shwe, Iraq's Saddam Hussein, Cuba's Fidel Castro, Libya’s Mummar al-Qaddafi, Syria’s Hafez al-Assad and North Korea’s Kim IL-Sung.

Will the UN Ever be Able to Eradicate Systemic Racism Within?

In the midst of the Israel-Hamas conflagration, a significant anniversary at the United Nations --October 24th was the 78th year since its founding--went unremarked by the larger world. But the work of--and significant problems with--the UN continues. Among the problems is embedded institutional racism. It's time that it be deeply addressed--not just by lip service.

A Bigger and More Relevant Role for Youth Within the UN System – Part II

The UN Secretary General’s Policy Brief on Meaningful Youth Engagement in Policy and Decision-making Processes offers several ideas on how to ensure youths have a bigger and more relevant role within the UN System.

A New Youth Envoy: Symbolic Change or Real Hope?– Part I

The recent appointment of Dr. Felipe Paullier of Uruguay as the first Assistant Secretary-General for Youth Affairs is a good news for the United Nations. Yet we need to ask ourselves the following question: Can such development also become a real hope, rather than just a symbolic change, for millions of youths from around the world?

Why Demography is Key to Unlocking a Sustainable Future for Asia & the Pacific

Asia and the Pacific is an economic powerhouse, fuelled by its vibrant and diverse population. Comprising 60 per cent of the world’s population, this region is bursting with both a wealth of experience and untapped potential.

Zimbabwe’s Election Widens Gender Gap in Politics

Zimbabwe’s recent election has exposed weak gender policies both at the political party and governmental levels as women were sidelined despite the fact that they make up more than half of the 6.5 million electorate.

Iran, a Murdered Teenager and a Fading Protest

On October 28, Armita Geravand, a 16-year-old Iranian teenager, passed away a month after she had been beaten by the police in the Tehran subway for not wearing the Islamic veil correctly.

António Guterres in Nepal: Transitional Justice to the Fore

Many observers found it intriguing that UN Secretary-General António Guterres would want to spend three full days in Nepal even as Israel was carpet-bombing Gaza.

Violent Conflict in Sudan Has Impacted on Nearly Every Aspect of Women’s Lives

I had the privilege to speak at the UN Security Council open debate last week on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS), an important opportunity to reflect on the urgency of this work and why women’s rights must be central to addressing any conflict or crisis.

The UN’s 78th Birthday: Revisiting the Operational Credibility of the United Nations

I thank the United Nations Asia Network for Diversity and Inclusion (UN-ANDI) for inviting me to present the keynote speech on this special occasion for the observance of the United Nations Day.

A Tug of War and Peace in Yemen

For the first time since the beginning of a war that claimed the lives of over 220,000 people, a senior Houthi delegation travelled from Yemen to Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh in mid-September.

Gender Parity: Rise of Denmark and Downfall of Afghanistan

The UN agency, which advocates women’s rights and gender empowerment, has predicted that gender equality is “300 years away.” Addressing the UN Commission on the Status of Women last March, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres not only quoted the estimates provided by UN Women but also warned that progress toward gender equality is “vanishing before our eyes.”

The Road to Hell is Paved with Not-So-Good Intentions: Quo Vadis Israel-Palestine?

“God Is Truth” – Mahatma Gandhi. The bloodletting in Israel-Palestine is nothing new, perhaps the ferocity and intensity has become much worse and more frenetic. Ever since the Zionist project to establish a Jewish nation took hold in 1948, and flourished thereafter, the local inhabitants, mostly Arab Muslims and Christians, were displaced in the power equation and became dispossessed in every sense of the word.

UN Chief Urged to Create Civil Society Envoy

When the United Nations commemorated the 75th anniversary of the UN Charter back in 2020, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres paid a supreme compliment to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

The Taliban’s War on Women: The Ongoing Struggle in Afghanistan

Afghanistan can be likened to an open prison, where nearly 20 million women struggle daily for their freedom. What these women demand is a simple right – the right to lead dignified lives, equal to their male counterparts. Unfortunately, this aspiration seems distant and despairingly unattainable.

“Israel’s 9/11” is a Slogan to Rationalize Open-Ended Killing of Palestinian Civilians

When Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations spoke outside the Security Council on Sunday, he said: “This is Israel’s 9/11. This is Israel’s 9/11.” Meanwhile, in a PBS NewsHour interview, Israel’s ambassador to the United States said: “This is, as someone said, our 9/11.”

Ecuadorians Vote to Preserve Yasuní National Park, but Implementation Is the Problem

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.

UN’s High-Level Appointments Should Give Priority to Gender in Geographical Rotation

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.

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