When the General Assembly elected its President for 2023-2024 last week, it continued a longstanding tradition of male dominance in the UN’s highest policy making body.
The new President for the 78th session, Ambassador Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago, a longstanding career diplomat and a former Permanent Representative, was elected June 1 “by acclamation”.
The UN is hustling to play a role – perhaps even a leading role – in the revolution of Artificial Intelligence. To some degree this is perfectly natural.
Recently when I was asked to offer my thoughts on the phenomenal advances of artificial intelligence (AI) and
whether the United Nations play a role in its global governance, I was reminded of the Three Laws of Robotics
which are a set of rules devised by science fiction
author Isaac Asimov
and introduced in his1942 short story.
The frighteningly rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have triggered the question: is there a UN role for monitoring and regulating it?
Citing a report from the Center for AI Safety, the New York Times reported last week that a group of over 350 AI industry leaders warned that artificial intelligence poses a growing new danger to humanity –and should be considered a “societal risk on a par with pandemics and nuclear wars”.
Menstrual hygiene management is elusive for millions of poor women and girls in Latin America, who suffer because their living conditions make it difficult or impossible for them to access resources and services that could make menstruation a simple normal part of life.
When the UN displayed a female robot back in February 2019, it was a peek into the future: a fast-paced, cutting-edge digital technology where humans may one day be replaced with machines and robots.
However, a joke circulating in the UN delegate’s lounge at that time was the possibility, perhaps in a distant future, of a robot-- a female robot-- as the UN Secretary-General in a world body which has been dominated by nine secretaries-general, all male, over the last 78 years.
Next month’s United Nations Security Council elections show why competition is important.
UN votes for seats on important bodies like the Security Council and Human Rights Council often make a mockery of the word “election.” They typically have little or no competition, ensuring victory for even the least-qualified candidates.
Mexico’s development banks have violated their own socio-environmental standards while granting loans for the construction of the Mayan Train (TM), the flagship project of the presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
When the Taliban captured power back in 1996, one of its first political acts was to hang the ousted Afghan President Mohammed Najibullah in Ariana Square Kabul.
Fast forward to 15 August 2021, when the Taliban, in its second coming, assumed power ousting the US-supported government of Ashraf Ghani, a former official of the World Bank, armed with a doctorate in anthropology from one of the most prestigious Ivy League educational institutions: Columbia University.
The world’s news media -- both under authoritarian regimes and democratic governments-- continue to come under relentless attacks and political harassment.
The latest synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes for grim reading: Every fraction of a degree of warming comes with escalated threats, from deadly heatwaves to severe hurricanes and droughts, affecting all economies and communities.
The world is in permanent crisis mode. In addition to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, the war in Ukraine and other violent conflicts, a worldwide cost of living crisis and an intensified debt crisis in more and more countries of the global South are affecting large parts of humanity.
“This is a very difficult place to live, because of the lack of water,” said Salvadoran farmer Marlene Carballo, as she cooked corn tortillas for lunch for her family, on a scorching day.
Freedom of the press is the cornerstone of democratic society. Without a debate of ideas, without verified facts, without diversity of perspectives, democracy is a shadow of itself; and World Press Freedom Day was established to remind us of this.
The United Nations has consistently been a vociferous advocate of freedom of the press – and, most importantly, the right of journalists to report without fear of reprisals.
But regrettably, the UN is also one of most opaque institutions where transparency is never the norm.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury, a stellar success story to date, has been favorably compared to the prototype success story for a treaty on toxins: the Montreal Protocol. Both had a single focused mission; both gained universal support across the globe; both matched technological innovation with environmental science to discard old polluting methods.
The first five biomethane-fuelled buses in the Cuban municipality of Martí will not only be a milestone in the country but will also represent a solution to the serious problem of transportation, while reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and bolstering local development.
On the morning of 9th of April 2021, the La Soufrière Volcano on the main island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines erupted -filling the sky with ash and transforming the lives, livelihoods and landscape of this small Southern Caribbean nation.
The massive leak of a treasure trove of highly-classified US intelligence reports—described as “one of the most remarkable disclosures of American secrets in the last decade”-– has also revealed a more surprising angle to the story.
The US not only gathered intelligence from two of its adversaries, Russia and China, but also from close allies, including Ukraine, South Korea, Egypt, Turkey and Israel.
Water is life. No other definition captures quite so aptly what this essential element means for our lives, livelihoods and the natural environment.
As Ramadan continues through next week, the world’s 2 billion Muslims will focus on the core values of the holy month: helping the poor and committing oneself to the service of others.