United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar shakes hands with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street, London, July 14, 1982 (Press Association photo via AP Images)

When Javier Pérez de Cuéllar turned 100 in January, his current successor as Secretary-General, António Guterres, sent a congratulatory message stating that “I have often reflected on your example and experience for inspiration and guidance.” This sounds like a standard diplomatic pleasantry, but there may have been a more to it than that.

As UN chief from 1982 to 1991, Pérez de Cuéllar, a former Peruvian diplomat, was intimately involved in ending Cold War conflicts from Afghanistan to Central America. Guterres, since his appointment in 2017, has warned that the U.S., China and Russia risk starting a “new Cold War” if they do not rein in their current tensions.…  Seguir leyendo »

The UN's first all-female peacekeeping force of more than 100 Indian women stand in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: Getty Images.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security – the first to recognize the important role of women in peacebuilding. How did the resolution come into being and how significant was its adoption in 2000?

Well it has quite an amazing history that goes back to other UN resolutions, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, which were passed in the 1960s and came into force in the 1970s. These were some of the biggest covenants on human and civil rights at the time but it was only later that people realised, that those who passed them, did not assume that they applied to women.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las recientes actuaciones de la Organización de Naciones Unidas -ONU- en América Latina, no han tenido efecto alguno. Si analizamos la situación en Cuba, la democracia sigue sin asomar en la isla. Sus habitantes continúan sometidos por un régimen autoritario en que el Estado es el dueño de los bienes de producción, del sistema financiero y de los medios de comunicación. Ni la ONU en forma directa, ni sus filiales regionales como Cepal -Comisión Económica para América Latina- o la CIDH -Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos-, han tomado acciones concretas que permitan influir en la jerarquía comunista de Cuba, para lograr que dicho país pueda alcanzar mayores niveles de libertad y desarrollo económico.…  Seguir leyendo »

General view is seen during the United Nations Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York, United States on December 20, 2019. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency

Splits among the five permanent members of the Security Council or P5 (China, France, UK, Russia and the U.S.) on issues from Syria to Venezuela are now a regular and frustrating feature of UN diplomacy. Nevertheless, meeting at a Holocaust commemoration in Israel last month, French President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin reportedly discussed convening a leader-level meeting of the five at this September’s UN General Assembly session. Does this initiative suggest that relations among the P5 are about to take a turn for the better?

Perhaps marginally, but the outlook for Council relations remains fairly bleak. Looking at the Council’s agenda for the next several months, there are reasons to believe that the P5 face a factious 2020, risking more divisions over crisis situations from Mali to North Korea, and above all the tangle of conflicts in the Middle East.…  Seguir leyendo »

Anthony Kalulu is a farmer in eastern Uganda, and founder of non-profit Uganda Community Farm (UCF) Photograph: Handout

Where I live, people are organised in clans. I belong to a clan where even 100 people, gathered together, can’t raise $100 (£75) to organise a funeral.

I come from a family that couldn’t afford to pay tuition of $10 a term when I was a student two decades ago. Many of my young relatives are out of school now, because their parents can’t afford a full academic term of $15.

Others are even worse off. There are families I have spoken with who say they are unable to earn $2 a month as a family.

There is no question that the UN global goals have stalled.…  Seguir leyendo »

Muy pocas madres se pueden permitir que sus ‘bebés de paz’ vayan a colegios como este de Kolminy. Michelle D. Milliman/Shutterstock.com

Marie* tenía 14 años y acudía a una escuela cristiana cuando conoció a Miguel, un soldado brasileño destinado en Haití como Casco Azul de la ONU. Pronto inició una relación con él. Cuando le dijo que estaba embarazada de su hijo, Miguel le aseguró que le ayudaría con el niño, pero volvió a Brasil. Marie trató de comunicarse con él vía Facebook, pero Miguel nunca respondió.

Al enterarse de que estaba embarazada, el padre de Marie la echó de casa y se fue a vivir con su hermana. Actualmente, su hijo tiene cuatro años y Marie continúa a la espera de recibir algún tipo de ayuda por parte del ejército brasileño, alguna ONG, las Naciones Unidas o el estado haitiano.…  Seguir leyendo »

A soldier on the African Union Mission in Somalia standing guard on a street during a security operation in Mogadishu, Somalia. EPA/Tobin Jones

In an ever more urbanising world, peacekeepers will increasingly operate in cities. In a recent article, we analysed how attacks against the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) affected the peacekeepers’ ability to operate in Mogadishu.

Cities host key logistical and political assets and institutions. They are frequently the object of fierce contestation among warring parties. Cities may also remain divided and insecure long after formal peace agreements are signed, posing significant challenges to peaceful transitions.

Securing strategically important cities and protecting key institutions are thus crucial tasks for peace operations. However, operating in densely populated urban areas brings significant challenges.…  Seguir leyendo »

New U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft casts a vote during her first U.N. Security Council meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., 12 September 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Security Council diplomats have a chance to engage in some self-criticism this week. On Thursday and Friday, representatives of the Council’s current members will attend a workshop with their counterparts from the five elected members joining it in 2020 (Estonia, Niger, Tunisia, Vietnam, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines). This event, convened by Finland, is one of two annual opportunities for Council insiders to discuss their collective efforts – the other, a retreat with the Secretary-General, took place in May – and their talks can be quite frank.

According to a detailed summary of last year’s workshop, “a participant lamented that there was a prevailing image of the Security Council as an organ that was becoming less effective and less influential over time”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando se trata de Venezuela, la Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos no se contiene. Hace solo unos meses, publicó un informe que detalla una vasta campaña de abusos contra los derechos humanos, incluyendo tortura, el encarcelamiento de cientos de disidentes políticos y más de 5,000 ejecuciones extrajudiciales solo el año pasado. Y no se detuvo allí. La libertad de expresión y el acceso a alimentos, medicinas, justicia: el alto comisionado detalló los abusos más graves cometidos por el gobierno de Nicolás Maduro de casi todos los derechos fundamentales.

Luego, en la mañana del jueves 16 de octubre, la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas eligió a Venezuela para formar parte del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas (CDHNU) por un período de tres años.…  Seguir leyendo »

When it comes to Venezuela, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights minces no words. Just a few months ago, it published an incandescent report detailing a vast campaign of human rights abuses including torture, the jailing of hundreds of political dissidents, and more than 5,000 extrajudicial killings last year alone. And it didn’t stop there: freedom of speech and access to food, medicine, justice — the high commissioner detailed major abuses carried out by the government of Nicolás Maduro of just about every fundamental right.

Then, Thursday morning, the U.N. General Assembly elected Venezuela to serve on the U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »

How is Kelly Knight Craft doing as U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations?

It is almost exactly one month since Craft presented her credentials to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sept. 12. It has been an eventful period, including the annual General Assembly jamboree and Security Council crisis talks on North Korea and Syria. To top it off, Guterres warned this week that the U.N. is about to run out of operating funds because over 60 members have not paid their annual dues. The U.S. has accumulated over $1 billion in arrears, equivalent to a third of the U.N.’s regular budget, putting Craft in a tricky spot.…  Seguir leyendo »

Greta Thunberg asiste a la cumbre de acción climática de las Naciones Unidas en Nueva York el pasado 23 de octubre. Spencer Platt (Getty Images / AFP)

La adopción de la Agenda 2030 y sus 17 Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS) fue una victoria para los pueblos y habitantes de los 193 estados firmantes pero, sobre todo, fue una oportunidad para la vida en el planeta. Ahora tenemos otra para reflexionar sobre los primeros cuatro años de este logro. En este periodo nunca estuvieron tan presentes en la sociedad ni la crisis climática ni las desigualdades, y jamás vimos manifestaciones de la juventud o el feminismo tan importantes. Son el primer puntal para detener cuatro años de retrocesos en igualdad y sostenibilidad.

Diversos informes constatan importantes pasos atrás en áreas clave del camino hacia el desarrollo sostenible: se ha reducido nuestro espacio cívico y democrático, al tiempo que ha emergido un fuerte discurso del odio y se ha activado una cruzada contra el multilateralismo.…  Seguir leyendo »

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 »