"Restoring Humanity"

The Economic and Social Council convened an “event” on the morning of 27 June that considered the theme “Restoring humanity and leaving no one behind: working together to reduce people’s humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability.” ECOSOC has decided that the theme itself will be known hereafter as “rethinking the humanitarian-development nexus.” For video of the discussions on the topic go here.

The UN Gets Set to Map the Way to the Future: A  First Century  map telling of the sea route from Mediterranean Europe to India is one of the earliest examples of the use of geospatial information. It puts in perspective the dramatic new uses of such information in a digitally connected world (article below).

Geospatial Information Management Moves Center Stage


August 2016:​  On 27 July, in a little noted decision on "Cartography," the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) made a change that will have more impact on the future of Sustainable Development than all the meetings of its High Level Political Forum

Acting on  the report of its Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management  (GGIM) established just five years earlier, the Council decided to eliminate all its Regional Cartographic Conferences. In their stead, a much strengthened Expert Committee will streamline all UN work related to geospatial information management, especially in relation to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the 2015-2030 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Small Islands Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway. 

A prime area of focus will be the development of a global geodetic frame of reference necessary for the efficient use of all aspects of GGIM. The expert committee will oversee all UN System efforts to "strengthen coordination and coherence of global geospatial information management, in capacity-building, norm-setting, data collection, data dissemination and data sharing, among others." It will also help strengthen the integration of statistical and geospatial information management, especially in developing countries, in particular the least developed, landlocked and small island developing States. 

With these changes ECOSOC has set in place the integration and harmonization of fundamental geospatial data themes from the national to global levels, building on existing fundamental datasets and identifying 

                                                                                                                                                                                             Read More


WMO Says 2016 is Hottest Year: Kuwait @ 54.C 

21 July 2016: The World Meteorological Organization is reporting that 2016 is on track to be the hottest year ever. Kuwait has just hit a record 54.centigrade.

According to the WMO, Arctic sea ice melted early and fast this year and carbon dioxide levels driving global warming have reached new highs. Citing reports from the U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies it says there are dramatic and sweeping changes in the state of the climate. 

June 2016 marked the 14th consecutive month of record heat for land and oceans. It marked the 378th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average. The last month with temperatures below the 20th century average was December 1984. “Decades-long trends of climate change are reaching new climaxes, fueled by the strong 2015/2016 El Niño,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Although the global temperature-raising impact of the El Niño event has now disappeared, the longer term phenomenon caused by greenhouse gases continues, bringing more heatwaves and extreme weather such as torrential downpours and fierce storms.

Carbon dioxide concentrations have passed the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere so far this year.  CO2 levels vary according to the season, but the underlying trend is upwards. They showed a surprising increase for the first half of 2016, rising in June 2016 to nearly 407 ppm, 4 ppm greater than June 2015.



Read Part I of this article

July 2016 
Why Connectivity is a Game-Changer         The connectivity revolution reverses trends that have concentrated power in elite groups for the last five centuries and made them, even within democratic frameworks, increasingly authoritarian. In particular, connectivity can decentralize the capacity to create and control wealth, making it realistic to expect changes long considered “Utopian:” that human development will equalize around the world; that all war can be ended; that democracy will become the human standard. 

Beyond that lies a longer term prospect seemingly fantastic but entirely within the realm of scientific possibility: that the worldwide web of human consciousness will become the neural network of a global brain and give humanity a new level of universal awareness. Achieving those goals will require a level of international cooperation without precedent. To mobilize and build it into UN reform we must understand the nature and emergence of modern Europe, the region most responsible for the current state of the world.

The Shaping of Modern Europe       Two quite different but mutually reinforcing processes       Read More


Peace & Security

Rich Debate on UN Peace Ops Misses key Issue    
A richly detailed and lively two-day discussion of United Nations peace operations and architecture (10-11 May), left untouched the basic reason for the Organization’s 70-year failure to achieve its primary Charter aim. Although the debate was shot through with facts and themes pointing to a malign and actively hostile international environment, no one tried to define it or say how the UN should respond.                                                                                                                                    Read More

16 August Developments

2nd Straw Poll to Pick S-G: All Favorites Drop

5 August 2016: Going by early leaked results, all the favorites dropped in the Security Council’s 2nd straw poll on those bidding to become the UN’s ninth Secretary-General. Both women front-runners dropped steeply. 

Field leader Antonio Guterres of Portugal got 11  in favor, 2 against and 2 no opinion votes instead of the first round 12-0-3. Either one or both of the negative votes must have been vetoes, otherwise he would be the next S-G. 
Vuk Jeremic of Serbia rose to second place but without the minimum 9 votes needed for selection; he polled 8-4-3 (compared to the earlier 9-5-1).
Susana Malcorra of Colombia became the highest ranking woman with 8-6-1, getting more pro and con votes, from the previous 7-4-4.
Danilo Turk of Slovenia dropped precipitously to 7-5-3 (from 11-2-2). Irina Bokova of Bulgaria also sank, to 7-7-1 (from 9-4-2). Srgjan Kerim of Macedonia sank even more, getting 6-7-2 (instead of 9-5-1). So did Helen Clark, who got 6-8-1 (down from 8-5-2).  Others were Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica: 5-8-2; Natalia Gherman of Moldova 3-10-2; Igor Luksic of Montenegro 2-6-7; Miroslav Lajcak of Slovakia 2-9-4.​

First straw poll results

"tax body": A Mascot The un doesn't want to see

Civil society groups have been bringing their "Tax Body" mascot to the UN to remind delegates of the need for global rules to prevent illicit transfers of wealth from poor countries. It hasn't done much good so far; in April the mascot was ejected from a UN Press Conference in New York. See also the article on the Development page about the very peculiar UNCTAD 14 Conference that did not deal with the matter.  

Erratic service from UNTV!

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948), Nelson Mandela (1918 - 1913) and Mother Teresa (1910 - 1997) are legendary figures but each has enduring lessons to teach. Click the links above for more. 



NEW: August Straw Poll  (scroll down)

71st General Assembly Guide

  • The 71st session of the General Assembly will convene on Tuesday, 13 September 2016.
  • It will be presided over by Ambassador  Peter Thomson of Fiji.
  • Bolivia has been picked to lead off the seating order in the General Assembly hall, sitting at the first desk at the right of the President. Other member States will follow in the English alphabetical order. The same order will be observed in the Main Committees.
  • The provisional agenda of the session is in document A/71/150
  • The annotated preliminary list of items in the provisional agenda is in document A/71/100
  • The week by week program of the work for the plenary is in document A/70/987
  • The general debate will open on Tuesday, 20 September and close on the 26th. The provisional list of speakers is available at Room S-3082 in the General Assembly Affairs Branch.
  • Basic information for delegations attending the session is in document A/INF/71/4

$5.4 Billion UN Budget
The UN biennial budget for 2016-2017 is $5.4 billion, $170 million less than the amount requested by the Secretary-General. The approved total is $400 million less than the 2014-2015 budget. Most of the cut came from Public Information funding. Acting by consensus in December 2015, the Assembly also decided how much each Member State will pay. The United States and Japan remain the top two contributors to the budget, with 22 and 9.68 per cent); for the first time is China will be third, with 7.92 per cent. 

UN Specialized Agencies, Funds and Programmes

NEW: 71st General Assembly: scroll down