In the days since the U.S. federal government shutdown, we’ve begun to learn just how far the ramifications have stretched beyond Washington D.C. Among its global impacts, the shutdown breached the gates of the Palais Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland. There, the U.S. was expecting to undergo its quadrennial review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a UN human rights treaty that the U.S. ratified in 1992. However, on October 10, the U.S. State Department, citing the shutdown, formally requested a postponement of the review.
On UN Day, the international community looks inward, celebrating the anniversary of when the United Nations Charter first took effect in 1945. Indeed it is a chance to reflect upon what the charter represents in terms of promoting social and economic progress, fundamental human rights and tolerance, and peace and security throughout the world. Yet more and more, the UN appears to be focusing outward as it tackles the world’s most pressing development issues.
The #2030NOW Twitter hashtag of this year’s Social Good Summit, held in New York during the UN General Assembly week, was meant to be a rallying cry for the international community. It succinctly raised the critical question of how current technology can create lasting societal impact. And it reflected the UN’s priorities of generating momentum for achieving the remaining Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) while simultaneously emphasizing the post-2015 development agenda.
As the global spotlight is sharply focused on the United Nations for the 68th General Assembly, many questions emerge. What can the UN—in partnering with governments, businesses, and civil society organizations—do to generate momentum for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)?
Recent revelations of surveillance by various state intelligence agencies, have provoked a strong response from international human rights authorities. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay noted that these government practices "raise a number of important international human rights issues which need to be addressed."
Ceremonial drummers beat rhythms from the banks of the Hudson River last Friday, the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, as two lines of canoes and kayaks appeared across the water. They were a couple of hours late, but they had made it, against the tide and the wind, paddling to shore beneath the rain-shrouded skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan to the cheers and chants of supporters. More than 200 paddlers in all—many of them Native Americans from the Haudenosaunee nations of upstate New York—were completing the final leg of an epic journey that had begun two weeks earlier, hundreds of miles to the north.
The fifth UNWorld Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF) opened in mid-May with political theater at its finest. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), took the stagewearing a blue UN peacekeeping helmet. “It is my pleasure to announce today that we are not taking over the Internet,” he declared. “The UN peacekeepers and their blue helmets are not coming to take over the world IXPs [Internet exchange points]. The UN peacekeepers are not coming to take over the Internet critical resources...”
President Barack Obama’s foreign policy team experienced a shuffle this week. On Wednesday, he appointed U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice to become his new National Security Adviser, tapping National Security Council official Samantha Power to take over as Rice’s successor at the United Nations.
What brings together individuals and organizations such as Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student shot by the Taliban for her outspoken support of girls’ education, front-line polio workers, the global action campaign 10x10, and GE Africa? The answer: courage and a determination to work for a better world. The four will also come together in New York City to be honored at the 2013 Global Leadership Awards Dinner in New York City this November.
At a recent event hosted by the U.S. State Department titled “The Next Level of Diplomacy: Youth and Global Engagement,” the discussion revolved around the promise and peril of the world’s burgeoning youth population. In particular, the panel of Farah Pandith, the department’s special representative to Muslim communities, Zeenat Rahman, special adviser on global youth issues, and Kathy Calvin, president and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, focused on the urgent need to engage young people in global affairs.