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.
A UNITED NATIONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
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
13 September 2016: The 70th session of the General Assembly ended today without consensus on the text under consideration on the appointment of the Secretary-General. Speaking of that at his final press conference at the United Nations, Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said consultat-ions were continuing, and the matter of co-facilitators was under consideration.
PS: Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica is withdrawing her candidacy for the post of Secretary-General. The third to do so.
9 September 2016: The fourth straw poll on the 10 candidates still vying to be the next Secretary-General of the UN saw some shifting of the field but Antonio Guterres of Portugal continued to lead, with Miroslav Lajcak of Slovakia in second place and Vuk Jeremic of Serbia in third. Only they got the minimum 9 positive votes necessary for formal approval. Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, the leading woman, got only 7 "encourage" votes. The tally wa as follows:
• Antonio Guterres, Portugal: 12-2-1
• Miroslav Lajcak, Slovakia: 10 - 4 - 1
• Vuk Jeremic, Serbia: 9 - 4 - 2
• Srgjan Kerim, Macedonia: 8 - 7 - 0
• Irina Bokova, Bulgaria: 7 - 5 - 3
• Danilo Turk, Slovenia: 7 - 6 - 2
• Susana Malcorra, Argentina 7 - 7 - 1
• Helen Clark, New Zealand: 6 - 7 - 2
• Christiana Figueres, Costa Rica:
5 - 10 - 0
• Natalia Gherman, Moldova:3-11-1
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.
THREE WHO INSPIRE ME
INDEPENDENT NEWS AND COMMENT ON THE UNITED NATIONS
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.
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.
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
13 September 2016: The 118th meeting of the 70th session of the General Assembly segued this morning into the first meeting of the 71st session with a historic event: the first ever oath of office by the Assembly president, Peter Thomson of Fiji. He made the event additionally memorable by having his two grandchildren, Grace (7) and Mirabelle (5) join him on the podium. Read More
$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