Growing Crises in Myanmar and Tigray; Getting to Know the US Envoy; Will the UN’s Top Humanitarian Job Go to the UK Again?

by Ivana Ramirez. Read more on PassBlue.

UNHQ NYC art exhibit of empty school desks to signify the over 1 million children whose education has been disrupted this year
UNHQ NYC art exhibit of empty school desks to signify the over 1 million children whose education has been disrupted this year

Continuing crises in Myanmar and Ethiopia; the US envoy to the UN’s first week; why Britain has held the top humanitarian job for so long; and women’s gains in the African Union.

You are reading This Week @UN, a summary of the most pressing issues facing the organization. The information is gathered from the UN spokesperson’s press briefings, PassBlue reporting and other sources.

You are just a click away to our latest podcast episode, taking listeners to the heart of United States Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s childhood in Louisiana and to hearing why one…


The US assumes the Security Council Presidency in March.

by Stéphanie Fillion. Read more on PassBlue.

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When she arrived in Turtle Bay the morning of Feb. 25, a day after being sworn in as United States ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield didn’t hide the tight timeline she had inherited in her new post, which includes president of the Security Council in March: “I’m not only hitting the ground running, I’m hitting the ground sprinting,” she said to the media at the UN that afternoon.

She kept up a fast pace in her first weekend in New York City, where she is now working, across the street from…


Will a Briton Get the Post Again?

by Ian Martin. Read more on PassBlue.

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Mark Lowcock, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, visiting a camp in South Kordofan, Sudan. Lowcock, who recently resigned to return home to England, is the fourth Briton in a row to hold the post. The question, the writer asks, is: Will Britain get the coveted post again? SARI OMER/OCHA

LONDON — Should the world’s top humanitarian official be chosen through a meritocratic selection process open to candidates from any country, or should the choice be restricted to a single nationality and nomination by that government?

The answer is obvious — but may be the opposite of what is about to happen again during the imminent appointment of a new head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha). British-government nominees have filled the post since 2007, in one example of the stranglehold that the five permanent members of…


Former United Nations Secretary-General Ki-moon, in a memoir due out in June, is done concealing his anger over Donald Trump’s bad behavior.

by Irwin Arieff. Read more on PassBlue.

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Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a memoir due out in June, is done concealing his anger over Donald Trump’s bad behavior on the international stage.

The UN has always tried hard to maintain strong ties with the United States, its biggest dues-payer and the world’s leading superpower. And Ban, it seems, was careful to keep his true feelings about Trumpian diplomacy to himself even though he had left the UN by the time Trump became president.

Now, however, with Trump out of the White House, Ban is putting his anger on…


Women will dominate the African Union Commission. Yet the body is being scrutinized for charges of corruption and abuse.

by Barbara Crossette. Read more on PassBlue.

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Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, a Rwandan and the first woman to be elected deputy chair of the African Union Commission, participating in the 34th session of the African Union Assembly, held in Kigali, Rwanda, Feb. 6, 2021. For the first time, women will dominate the commission, which runs the daily operations of the African Union. Yet the body is being scrutinized for charges of corruption and abuse, including sexual harassment.

The African Union, living up to its longtime promise to improve the gender balance in its leadership, has elected the first woman as deputy chair of the organization’s operating commission. She is Monique Nsanzabaganwa, an economist who was deputy governor of the National Bank of Rwanda and earlier Rwanda’s minister of trade and industry.

Nsanzabaganwa, with a Ph.D. in economics from Stellenbosch University in South Africa, one of the continent’s premier institutions, will not be alone as a woman in a power structure heavily dominated by men. In addition, two women were re-elected…


This Week @ UN: A recap of the latest news and most pressing issues facing the United Nations.

by Ivana Ramirez. Read more on PassBlue.

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Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States envoy to the UN, starts her job; Iran’s troubling nuclear developments; UN-convoy murders in the Congo.

You are reading This Week @UN, a summary of the most pressing issues facing the organization. The information is gathered from the UN spokesperson’s press briefings, PassBlue reporting and other sources.

As International Women’s Day approaches on March 8, we want to remind you that PassBlue is a women-led, nonprofit media site that depends on the tax-deductible donations of foundations and individuals to pay our team (mostly women!). Please give generously.

And…


Confidential report: Iran has been enriching its uranium stockpile enough to possibly produce one nuclear weapon by the Q2 2022.

by Stephanie Liechtenstein. Read more on PassBlue.

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VIENNA — The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in a confidential document, seen by PassBlue, that Iran has added 17.6 kilograms of uranium, enriched up to 20 percent, to its total stockpile. The enrichment process, which had been announced by Iran in January, is occurring at Iran’s underground Fordow nuclear facility.

The 20 percent enrichment far exceeds the 3.67 percent purity allowed under the nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed in 2015 by Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. (The US withdrew from it in 2018.)…


OpEd: Will UN member states invest in a serious, criteria-based, transparent process and try to improve on the attempt in 2016?

by Simone Filippini. Read more on PassBlue.

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António Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, announced early last month that he would seek a second five-year term, starting in January 2022, as the organization’s highest official, “if it would be the will of the member states.”

The respective presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council have since defined the “selection and appointment process,” as they refer to it, to choose the next secretary-general this year and formally kickstart the procedure through a joint letter they sent to the 193 member states, soliciting candidates.

Besides Guterres, the incumbent, only one person…


From the early stages of Covid-19, women were standing out for their leadership under pressure in political and economic decision-making.

by Barbara Crossette. Read more in PassBlue.

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President Tsai Ing-wen, center, has been praised for how well she has steered Taiwan in the pandemic, shown here in January 2020. Overall, a gender expert says, “women will have a tendency to get into positions of leadership because they want to change things.” MORI/ OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

It was a tough and discouraging year, 2020, for women around the world as they prepare for the 12-day annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women. It begins at the United Nations — mostly virtually — on March 15. Last year, it was canceled, though a large UN forum commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was held online in the fall.

The agenda for…


Iran has told the International Atomic Energy Agency that it will significantly limit inspections of its nuclear facilities as of Feb. 23.

by Stephanie Liechtenstein. Read more on PassBlue.

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Rafael Mariano Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, briefing the media at Vienna International Airport, after he traveled to Tehran over the weekend and reached a temporary deal for the agency to continue nuclear inspections in the country, Feb. 21, 2021. DEAN CALMA/IAEA

VIENNA — Iran has told the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, that it will significantly limit inspections of its nuclear facilities as of Feb. 23.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director-general of the Vienna-based agency, traveled to Tehran over the weekend to meet with Iranian officials to try to preserve at least some level of monitoring and verification for the UN entity.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday evening, Feb. 21, upon returning from Iran, Grossi said: “There is less access, let’s face it. …

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Independent Coverage the United Nations. A project of The New School’s Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs, supported by the Carnegie Corporation.

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