2 September 2016: A year after the General Assembly adopted “Agenda 2030” as the global plan of action for the next 15 years the project is appearing increasingly Utopian. Read More
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.
The United States and Britain have a long history of political animosity dating back to the 18th Century War of Independence but the strong cultural ties between the two countries have obscured that record. Modern transatlantic differences first came into focus in August 1941, when Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965) and President Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945) met on a battleship anchored in Newfoundland’s Placentia Bay to declare a set of common war aims. Read More
19 December 2016: In a resolution on the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund the General Assembly expresses concern that it suffered $3.4 billion in losses due to foreign exchange factors during the 2014-2015 biennium. It urges the Secretary-General to "employ suitable procedures and tools to mitigate foreign exchange losses as well as develop an internal mechanism to monitor, evaluate and manage" such losses or gains. Read More
21 October 2016: The United Nations is now in the same situation as the League of Nations was in the 1930s when power struggles among major nations began to push the world towards the Second World War. Its Charter is badly out of date, its decisions and commands have no real traction and its member States do not engage in cooperative action on anywhwere near the scale necessary to deal with the challenges they face. Read More
8 October 2016: A new 36-page Report of the Secretary-General on how the UN Development System should be reoriented to implement Agenda 2030 is filled with such a dizzying collection of clichés that it loses all touch with reality. Read More
13 September 2016: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein opened the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council by complaining about"an emerging pattern: the growing refusal on the part of an increasing number of Member States to grant OHCHR, or the human rights mechanisms, access" when it "is requested explicitly, or in other instances to engage with us." Read more
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
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
20 January 2017: A memo to staff from the Executive Office of the Secretary-General sets out the principles that will guide its work and explains the roles of members of the core team Antonio Guterres has assembled on the 38th floor.
The memo clarifies especially the role of the Policy Adviser held at the level of Under-Secretary-General by Kyung-wha Kang of South Korea who led the transition team from the previous Secretary-General.
15 December 2016: Secretary-General designate Antonio Guterres announced today that Amina Mohammed of Nigeria would be his Deputy and Brazil's top diplomat Ribeiro Viotti would be his Chef de Cabinet. Kyung-wha Kang of South Korea, the leader of his transition team will hold the post of Policy Adviser; she had been widely expected to get the Chief of Staff position. Read more
27 November 2016: According to a story published by the Russian website Sputnik, the Secretary-General designate Antonio Guterres could take as long as six months to appoint his own cabinet-level team. The story cited Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin and coincided with Guterres' meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Both Russia and China are said to have asked for prominent posts at UN Headquarters in New York in the Peace/Security area. At present a Chinese national heads the Department for Economic and Social Affairs; Beijing is rumored to want the post of Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Affairs that has been a "French post" since Kofi Annan's first term 20 years ago. No Russian holds a cabinet-level post in New York.
14 October 2016: The day after the General Assembly appointed Antonio Guterres of Portugal to be the 9th Secretary-General of the United Nations, he announced a five-member transition team to help prepare for his 1 January 2017 assumption of office. Three of its members have worked with Guterres at UNHCR, where he was High Commissioner until December 2015. The team leader is a longtime aide to Ban Ki Moon. The members of the team are:
Kyung-wha Kang (Republic of Korea), currently Assistant-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, will be the team leader. She has served as Director General of International Relations at the ROK Foreign Ministry and as Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Melissa Fleming (USA), currently Head of Communications at UNHCR, will be Senior Adviser to Guterres and spokesperson for the transition team. She has previously worked for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The general expectation is that Fleming will replace Ban’s chief spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.
Michelle Gyles-McDonnough (Jamaica), currently UNDP Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director Designate for Asia and the Pacific, will be Senior Adviser. She is a lawyer who has previously been adviser to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS).
João Madureira (Portugal), currently Minister Counsellor in the Permanent Mission of Portugal to the UN, will be a Senior Adviser.
Radhouane Nouicer (Tunisia), currently Regional Adviser for the Yemen Humanitarian Crisis, will be Senior Adviser. He served at UNHCR for over 18 years in the field and as Director of the Middle East and North Africa Bureau.
The 71st session of the General Assembly that convened on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 with Ambassador Peter Thomson of Fiji as President, suspended work on 23 December. The highlight of the session was undoubtedly the appointment of the 9th Secretary-General of the Organization, Antonio Guterres of Portugal, former High Commissioner for Refugees and Prime Minister of his country. See also column on right and here
Dates of Assembly Debates Until 2026
The first Information document of the 71st session of the General Assembly lists the dates of annual 9-day opening debates until 2026. A/INf/71/1 of 12 January 2017 provides the following information:
72nd session opens 12 September 2017; General Debate begins 19 September
73rd session opens 18 September 2018; General Debate begins 25 September
73rd session opens 17 September 2019; General Debate begins 30 September
74th session opens 15 September 2020; General Debate begins 22 September
76th session opens 14 September 2021; General Debate begins 21 September
77th session opens 13 September 2022; General Debate begins 20 September
78th session opens 12 September 2023; General Debate begins 25 September
79th session begins 17 September 2024; General Debate begins 24 September
80th session opens 16 September 2025; General Debate begins 23 September
81st session opens 15 September 2026; General Debate begins 22 September
A footnote seeks to clarify the situation created by a surfeit of high-level forums:
If you read our coverage of the high-level UN proceedings in 2016, it will be clear that they do not add much value to the consideration of various issues.
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THREE WHO INSPIRE ME
19 February 2017: At the annual gathering in Munich of the world's top security officials Secretary-General Antonio Guterres repeatedly referred to "fragile States," the multiplication of conflicts, their inter-relationship and "root causes" without once mentioning drug trafficking, money laundering and their role in shaping the disastrous terrorist conflicts ravaging the world. Read More