El sol abrasador que mantenía la temperatura de Bagdad estacionada a 50 grados centígrados hizo que nuestra mañana comenzara temprano, como le gustaba tanto. Fui a la cocina a hacer chocolate caliente y una rodaja de papaya, pero los planes para un desayuno tranquilo se desvanecieron cuando me di cuenta de que un apagón al amanecer había cortado la leche. Tuvimos que conformarnos con Ovomaltine diluido con agua. No se quejó. Tomó mi mano en la suya y dijo para consolarme que pronto estaríamos de vuelta en Río de Janeiro. La promesa fue acompañada por su sonrisa franca y un beso apresurado.…  Seguir leyendo »

Laurent Gbagbo looks on next to his lawyer Emmanuel Altit before the start of his trial at the ICC on 28 January 2016. Photo by Getty Images.

The 1998 treaty which established the International Criminal Court (ICC) was adopted at a time when the world (or most of it) was willing to reach multilateral agreements on a variety of topics and was encouraging the development of international criminal justice. The two tribunals, set up by the UN Security Council, for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda had been relatively successful. The time was ripe for states to agree together to set up a permanent international court with wider scope than the two tribunals.

So the ICC was created, with jurisdiction over the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes; its jurisdiction for the crime of aggression developed later.…  Seguir leyendo »

One hundred years ago this month, after the horrors of the First World War, participants from all over the world concluded negotiations to establish the basis for a stable, prosperous peace. The resulting Treaty of Versailles not only imposed a punitive settlement on Germany but simultaneously created the first world organization designed to preside over the postwar order. Its name? The League of Nations.

If you learned about the league in your history classes, you were probably told how it failed miserably. How President Woodrow Wilson, the league’s controversial champion, went “all in” on this Promethean effort to “make the world safe for democracy” only to lose the support of his own Congress.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kofi Annan in 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

On 3 and 4 June, Chatham House will host a major conference in partnership with the UN Association (UK), supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates and Open Society Foundations, to reflect on the lessons learned from the remarkable life of Kofi Annan, who served as UN secretary-general from 1997 to 2006 and passed away almost a year ago, on 18 August 2018.

The conference will fall on the same days as Donald Trump’s state visit to the United Kingdom, which, though unplanned, brings into stark relief the ways in which current changes in international relations are affecting Kofi Annan’s legacy of UN-led multilateralism that Ban Ki-moon and now Antonio Guterres have carried forward.…  Seguir leyendo »

A soldier from MONUSCO patrols outside an Ebola Treatment Centre in Butembo, the epicentre of Democratic Republic of the Congo's latest Ebola outbreak, after it was attacked 9 March. Photo: Getty Images.

This month marks the third anniversary of the unanimous adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 2286, which condemns attacks on health care and demands that UN member states ensure the protection of health care delivery during conflicts.

The resolution addresses attacks against the wounded and sick; medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties; their means of transport and equipment; and hospitals and other medical facilities in armed conflicts. It calls on all parties to conflicts to fully comply with their obligations under international laws to ensure health care delivery is protected.

In August the same year, the UN secretary general submitted his recommendations on measures to operationalize the resolution.…  Seguir leyendo »

A mother washes her infant at a Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in a civilian protection site in Malakal, South Sudan, in March. (Alex Mcbride/AFP/Getty Images)

The military overthrow of Sudan’s longtime president last week raises new concerns for the fragile peace process in South Sudan, where a five-year civil war left 400,000 people dead and 4 million displaced. Will the new government in Khartoum continue to put pressure on South Sudanese parties to maintain peace — something that ousted Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir had made a priority?

The risk of renewed conflict puts a new spotlight on the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and whether it is able to protect civilians in a territory the size of France with only 17,000 troops, a task that some call mission impossible.…  Seguir leyendo »

Como es conocido, Israel, que sigue siendo la única democracia real existente en el Próximo y Medio Oriente, no parece que lo sea para el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas, que no ceja en su empeño de hostigar los valores democráticos que, desde su creación el 14 de mayo de 1948, ha enarbolado contra viento y marea este país. Sin embrago, es el país que más veces ha sido condenado en las resoluciones de este órgano de las Naciones Unidas, como si fuera un país paria de la sociedad internacional, y a pesar de que se encuentra muy bien situado en los estándares internacionales en materia democrática y de Derechos Humanos.…  Seguir leyendo »

España aboga por un multilateralismo que conjugue legitimidad y eficacia.

La frase anterior no es fruto de la ingenuidad o de un quijotismo idealista: figura en la Estrategia de Acción Exterior de España aprobada en 2015. En el mismo espíritu se pronuncia la Estrategia Global de la Unión Europea, según la cual “el orden multilateral fundado en el Derecho internacional, incluyendo los principios de la Carta de las Naciones Unidas y de la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos, es la única garantía de paz y seguridad en el exterior y dentro de nuestras fronteras”. Esa Declaración de los Derechos Humanos cumple hoy 70 años.…  Seguir leyendo »

Alors que la 73e session annuelle de l’Assemblée générale des Nations unies (AGNU) s’est ouverte le 18 septembre dernier, il peut être instructif de se pencher sur les plus de 310 résolutions qui ont été adoptées lors de la précédente session, ceci du point de vue du vote des pays postsoviétiques*. Que nous indiquent-ils de leur évolution dans le système international?

L’exception du Turkménistan

Depuis 1991, les pays de l’espace postsoviétique évoluent différemment dans le système international. Un premier groupe d’Etats est plutôt proche de la Russie et participe à un nombre élevé d’institutions formées autour de celle-ci. A titre d’exemple, l’Union économique eurasiatique (UEEA) compte parmi ses Etats membres l’Arménie, la Biélorussie, le Kazakhstan, et le Kirghizistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

The headquarters of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. Photo: Getty Images.

The recent revelations about the cyberattacks conducted by Russian military intelligence (GRU) in several countries did not come as a surprise. The UK and its allies have been calling for public attribution of cyberattacks coupled with, when appropriate, a series of diplomatic and economic responses, and even retaliation-in-kind. The thinking behind this is that attribution, coupled with sanctions initiated by a united front of like-minded states, could create a deterring effect.

However, these revelations also play into wrangling over cyber regulation at the UN level. Russia is planning to submit two UN resolutions later this month, one on a code of conduct to regulate states behaviour in cyberspace and one on a new UN cybercrime convention.…  Seguir leyendo »

As world leaders have been gathering in New York for the annual U.N. General Assembly, the memory of the late Kofi Annan looms large in our minds. Despite Annan’s achievement in breaking the glass ceiling for black Africans and becoming the first black African to become the secretary general of the United Nations, more than a billion of us in sub-Saharan Africa are still struggling to get our voices heard internationally.

The United Nations was designed for a different world, born as it was in the aftermath of World War II when colonial empires still dominated much of the globe. Sadly, although the world has moved on, the United Nations’ governance has not.…  Seguir leyendo »

El nuevo contrato social para hacer frente a los tremendos desajustes que ha traído la globalización, que tenga a todas las personas en el centro de su acción sin dejar a nadie atrás y que, además, nos ponga en la senda de salvar al planeta, ya está diseñado. Existe y tiene nombre. Sus objetivos y metas están pactados y son muchos los Gobiernos, líderes económicos y destacados activistas de la sociedad civil que están decididos a que se cumpla. Nadie discute la urgencia ¿Qué requerimos para que se hagan realidad? Voluntad, energía y determinación. Trabajo sin pausa hasta 2030. El plan está tan pautado, vigilado y trabado, que no tiene escapatoria de cumplimento una vez asumido.…  Seguir leyendo »

Era el otoño de 2001, en algún momento entre los atentados terroristas del 11 de septiembre en Estados Unidos y la invasión de Afganistán por parte del presidente norteamericano George W. Bush. Yo estaba caminando por Venecia con Richard C. Holbrooke, que había sido embajador de Estados Unidos ante las Naciones Unidas en la presidencia de Bill Clinton. El celular de Holbrooke sonó. Del otro lado de la línea estaba el entonces secretario general de las Naciones Unidas Kofi Annan.

Holbrooke esperaba la llamada. Él y Annan hablaron con la confianza cálida nacida de su cooperación durante el segundo mandato de Clinton.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the summer of 2004, I traveled to Sudan with Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the United Nations. Mr. Annan, who died Saturday at age 80, was hoping to put an end to the genocidal violence that the Sudanese president, Omar Bashir, had launched against the people of Darfur. I watched Mr. Annan sit quietly in a blazing hot shed while a local government official blamed the violence on the Darfuris themselves, handing the secretary general a list of alleged rebel atrocities and complaining bitterly about the role of the United Nations in taking their side. Only when he had finished did Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Srebrenica es recordado como un enclave en Bosnia-Herzegovina donde, a partir del 11 de julio de 1995, se cometió el mayor genocidio acontecido en Europa después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, cuando en un par de días fuerzas serbias masacraron a cerca de 8.000 musulmanes bosnios.

A pesar de haber transcurrido 23 años de estos hechos, solo se habla de los principales criminales responsables, Slobodan Milosevic, el general Ratko Mladic y Radovan Karadzic, pero poco o nada de la enorme responsabilidad de la comunidad internacional en este abominable crimen cometido en la Europa de Maastricht .

Indiferencia , prejuicios anti musulmanes y hasta complicidades de algunos de los principales países, y hasta del entonces secretario general de las Naciones Unidas Boutros Ghali, se sumaron para no detener semejante tragedia.…  Seguir leyendo »

July 2016 – Malakal, South Sudan – A U.N. peacekeeper stands guard as civilians enter the Protection of Civilians (POC) site outside the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Malakal, South Sudan on Wednesday, July 13, 2016.(Jane Hahn for Washington Post)

Syria’s seven years of conflict have had devastating consequences, with hundreds of thousands of people dead and over 4 million refugees. Would the story be different if the United Nations Security Council had managed to come to an agreement and deployed a peacekeeping operation (PKO) early in the conflict?

Would a PKO have been able to resolve this conflict? Despite popular conceptions to the contrary (see also here and here), a large body of research has shown that PKOs are surprisingly effective at keeping the peace.

How PKOs contribute to peace

Here are four ways PKOs contribute to peace. This intervention reduces the amount of violence during conflict, reduces the duration of conflict, increases the duration of peace following conflict — and limits the risk that conflict in one country spreads to neighboring countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.N. peacekeepers from Rwanda serve at a U.N. base in Malakal, South Sudan, in 2016. (Jane Hahn for The Washington Post)

Over the past 20 years, U.N. peacekeeping deployments have increased by more than 600 percent. Currently, the United Nations manages 14 peacekeeping operations worldwide, staffed by more than 95,000 military personnel, police, civilians and volunteers.

For almost all of these, a common mandate is to protect civilians — which is important not just in immediately saving lives, but also in sustaining peace over the long run. Recent academic research has focused on how well peacekeepers do at reducing conflicts’ virulence and spread.

But do armed peacekeepers actually protect civilians from harm? That’s been debated lately. A recent report, delivered to U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »

Decía Churchill que era siempre mejor «hablar y hablar que disparar y disparar». Se refería con ello a los relativos méritos que concedía a las entonces recién creadas Naciones Unidas y a otras instituciones internacionales de la familia. Mi buen y admirado amigo y colega, el embajador Inocencio Arias, piensa por el contrario que la ONU es un «cachondeo», castiza expresión a la que da amplio recorrido en un artículo recientemente publicado en estas páginas y en el que procede a una cuasi total y radical desautorización del organismo internacional. Para ello fundamentalmente se basa en un dato suficientemente conocido: el derecho de veto de los cinco miembros permanentes del Consejo de Seguridad –Estados Unidos, Rusia, China, Francia y Reino Unido– les autoriza a campar ampliamente por sus respetos en temas que estiman afectan directamente a sus intereses nacionales.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Son las Naciones Unidas la organización más antidemocratica del planeta? Sí, sí, yes, yes, oui, oui, da, da. Sin ninguna duda, como prueba fehacientemente el drama sirio en estas fechas. Una nación –repito, una sola; en este caso el villano es Rusia– puede paralizar cualquier intento de la comunidad internacional de tratar de pacificar ese país y detener la pavorosa sangría de muertos (¿400.000?) y desplazados o exilados (5.000.000). Aunque la mayoría del planeta, a veces la inmensa mayoría, quiera actuar y poner coto.

La Carta de la ONU, su constitución, es una auténtica monstruosidad jurídica si nos ceñimos a criterios mínimamente democráticos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Since late November—when the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced that she would seek permission to open an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan that includes allegations against U.S. personnel—the United States and the ICC have been on a slow motion collision course.  But it’s still not clear whether that collision will happen.  Both parties have good reason to maneuver past each other and some means to do it.  The stakes are high for the court, and how these maneuvers unfold could have a profound impact on its future work.

Why Washington should not want a collision with the ICC

As I described in November, and John Bellinger more recently detailed, the George W.…  Seguir leyendo »