UN

By Rodney Dixon

In recent weeks the United Nations has made public eyewitness accounts of foreign aid workers trapped in South Sudan in July as fighting resumed. They reveal how swiftly the country’s unity government pulled apart and returned to war, and how a ten thousand-strong United Nations peacekeeping force failed to prevent this happening. Their testimony indicates both local and intergovernmental shortcomings contributed to the crisis.

Yet today the global community, led by the US and UK, propose a way forward that is primarily international. They call for UN peacekeepers to be increased by one third, and for the establishment of an internationalised criminal tribunal, the “Hybrid Court for South Sudan”. Read more

After months of speculation, the race to become the next UN Secretary-General has reached the point at which support for the official contenders is being tested where it really counts. Two rounds of straw balloting, in which countries are invited to “encourage” or “discourage” the candidacy of each nominee, have already been held by the Security Council. Another is scheduled for next week. Perhaps surprisingly, at a time when the UN is under pressure to appoint its first woman head and recognise the principle of regional rotation by giving priority to candidates from eastern Europe, the apparent frontrunner is neither a woman nor from eastern Europe. He is Antonio Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal who completed his second term as UN High Commissioner for Refugees last year. Read more

By Mark Malloch Brown, former United Nations Deputy Secretary General.

The conventional wisdom behind the renegotiation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – eight targets for reducing poverty and its attendant woes that followed a resolution by United Nations members in 2000 – is that there were not enough of them and that they were too simple. So a UN industry has developed to write a lot more of them.

As one of the original drafters, my view is the contrary. It is not the goals that need changing (although they can certainly be improved at the margins) but rather the vision of development that lies behind them that needs reworking. And indeed adding goals risks detracting from the successful single-issue global campaigns – such as child mortality,which has halved globally since 1990 – that developed around them. Read more

By José Antonio Meade Kuribreña

It is mind-blowing that in the 21st century, sexual violence is still used as a tactic of war. Every year, thousands of people become victims of this heinous practice. Ninety-eight per cent of them are women and girls who are sexually abused in a spree of revenge or terror against civilian populations embedded in an armed conflict. Added to the profound pain and trauma caused to the victims, the worst part of this reality is that most cases go unpunished. This is unacceptable and we cannot continue to bear new atrocities. Read more

South Korea’s pride got a boost last year when it was chosen to host the UN’s Green Climate Fund, aimed at channeling billions of dollars to help developing countries mitigate the effects of climate change. But the challenges facing the fund loomed large on Wednesday at its star-studded launch in the new business zone of Songdo, near Seoul.

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A trader gestures in front of the electronic display at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) in Manila on June 18, 2012.It is hardly surprising to see mixed economic views of a country or region. But these days, Asia has become a forecasters’ chop-suey of tasty and unpalatable tidbits.

While it boasts growing internal markets, strong capital inflows and still-impressive annual growth among some economies, the region remains vulnerable to global slowdowns, the whims of western central banks, natural disasters and inadequate regional co-operation. Among the growing stream of mixed messages on the region’s trajectory came the United Nations Economic and Social commission for Asia and the Pacific, launched on Friday in Bangkok. Read more

A surge of remittances during the global financial crisis has helped to support the economies of some of the world’s least developed countries.

But a report published on Monday has underlined the high price such LDCs – including many poor countries in Africa – are paying for these transfers from migrants working abroad – a crippling “brain drain”. Read more

So farewell, then, Ban Ki Moon, the first UN Secretary General to visit Kosovo since its declaration of independence in 2008.

The Korean’s breezy visit leaves Kosovo still struggling with its two biggest problems: its current state of limbo regarding sovereignty, and, rather more pressingly for many Kosovans, the chronic lack of jobs. Read more

Ban Ki Moon’s visit to Kosovo on Tuesday is the first by a UN Secretary General since the statelet declared its disputed independence in 2007. The visit has been controversial and seems highly unlikely to bring any rapid resolution of the issue of Kosovo’s sovereignty. But it does at least remind the world that the country and its serious problems exist. Read more

When the UN climate talks resume next week in Durban, South Africa, all eyes will be on China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter and second-largest economy.

But as negotiators try to hammer out an agreement, they may be banging heads together for little reward – because China has already decided exactly what it is going to do. Read more