In early February, UNA-USA members and UN supporters from around the world joined together at the General Assembly Hall for UNA-USA's Members’ Day. They discussed some of the major challenges currently facing the United Nations.
Last December, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the area devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. In his official press release, the secretary-general declared, “We must not allow this to be another forgotten crisis.” Even though Typhoon Haiyan occurred three months ago, the reconstruction needed to move the country from a disaster zone to a disaster-resilient community will take years. Acknowledging this, the UN continues to urgently call for international support to keep the focus on the Philippines’ needs, as international attention shifts to other crises around the world.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is widely regarded as the keystone international framework for protecting the human rights of an estimated one billion persons with disabilities around the world. While many have called for the U.S. Senate to ratify the convention based on its straightforward human rights stipulations, a powerful complementary narrative has materialized that links the treaty with boosting technological innovation, enhancing global market competition and expanding space for job growth.
The road to Geneva began in New York. The historic deal struck in late November between Iran and the P5+1—the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany—appears to owe as much to the series of resolutions passed by the Security Council since 2006 as it does to the skills of the negotiators in Geneva. Moreover, the international legal basis provided by the UN resolutions and the unity of the Security Council facilitated the tough sanctions largely credited with bringing Iran to the negotiating table.
The United Nations first devised its list of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in 1971. More than 40 years later, only three countries have graduated, which means that their Gross National Income per capita has exceeded $1,190 as of 2012, and they have attained other development and economic indicators.
On the second floor of a concrete building washed with faded pink paint, several Syrian boys arrange a set of nine cubes, the faces of which are covered with different stickers. Occasional squabbles arise over who is holding which block and which way it should go, but those disputes are mild and tend to end quickly. Each time they complete one arrangement, they proudly present it to the adults watching over them, and then feverishly tear it apart to reassemble the blocks into something new.
According to Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of The World Food Prize Foundation, “The greatest challenge that humans face is whether we can sustainably feed the nine billion people who will be on planet by 2050.” With food security a central focus of both the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda, it is no wonder that the winner of this year’s Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application was Dr. Charity Mutegi.
In early November, two French journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, were kidnapped and killed near the city of Kidal in northern Mali by armed gunmen. Dupont and Verlon were on assignment for Radio France International (RFI), for which they had been working for 25 and 30 years, respectively. Their murders prompted condemnation from Irina Bokova, the director-general for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The brutal legacy of mass murder in the 20th century gave birth to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle in the hope that an ounce of prevention could end the need for a pound of cure. Countries around the world vowed they shared obligation to protect the defenseless. Despite misperceptions over its nature, R2P is about preventing harm to people, not using force. Since its adoption at the United Nations World Summit in 2005, the doctrine has gained wide international acceptance.