An A to Z Guide

by Mona Ali Khalil. Read more on PassBlue.

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Eleanor Roosevelt, the United States warrior behind the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. What will it take for the US to restore its image as a democracy in the world? The writer offers an alphabetical list. FOTOSEARCH GETTY IMAGES

Eleanor Roosevelt, the United States warrior behind the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. What will it take for the US to restore its image as a democracy in the world? The writer offers an alphabetical list. FOTOSEARCH GETTY IMAGES

The world watched on Jan. 6, 2021, as thousands of the most extreme supporters of President Donald Trump marched on the United States Capitol after hearing his rallying cry to “fight” and “take back” the country. Inside the Capitol, Vice President Mike Pence was presiding over a joint session of Congress to certify the results of the Nov. …


An Interview With Ambassador Olof Skoog

by Dulcie Leimbach. Read more on PassBlue.

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Olof Skoog, a Swede who has been the European Union’s ambassador to the UN since 2019, in his office in New York City. What does he think is promising for the globe in 2021? The Covid-19 vaccine rollout, new climate change commitments and the Biden administration’s return to international cooperation. In an interview, he also talks about the role of Russia and China in the UN and how the pandemic has affected diplomacy. JOHN PENNEY

Olof Skoog knows the United Nations like the back of his hand. As the European Union ambassador to the world body since 2019, he speaks for the 27-member bloc at the UN headquarters in New York City; most recently, he was Sweden’s envoy to the UN. He is known for his optimism — even in the Trump era — his directness, his ambition and his ease with journalists. …


Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister who has been UN secretary-general since January 2017, is seeking a second five-year term in office.

by Barbara Crossette. Read more on Passblue.

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Secretary-General António Guterres in a corridor of the UN headquarters after recording a video message about the effects of the pandemic on children, April 16, 2020. He informed the five permanent members of the Security Council on Jan. 8 that he was “available” to run for a second term, starting January 2022. ESKINDER DEBEBE/UN PHOTO

António Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister who has been United Nations secretary-general since January 2017, is seeking a second five-year term in office, beginning Jan. 1, 2022. UN officials confirmed on Jan. 11 that on Friday, Jan. 8, Guterres told the five permanent members of the Security Council of his decision. He also spoke to the president of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, a Turkish diplomat, who had originally requested the information from Guterres.

On Jan. 11, UN officials said that Guterres notified Bozkir by letter of his intentions as well as the current president of the Security Council, Tarek Ladeb, Tunisia’s ambassador to the UN. Guterres let heads of regional and political groups know about his intent over the weekend. …


A summary of the most pressing issues facing the organization gathered from briefings, original reporting and other sources.

by Ivana Ramirez. Read more on PassBlue

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Some of the pro-Trump rioters who stormed the United States Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021. The mob attacks lasted four hours in what US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called an “armed insurrection against America” incited by President Trump. She is calling for his immediate removal from office. Several top UN officials commented publicly about the Jan. 6 events, which have shocked the world.

The United States Capitol stormed by pro-Trump rioters; a legendary UN diplomat dies at 101; Islamist jihadists blamed for fatal assault in Niger.

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, original reporting and other sources.

Cheers, at long last, to 2021: You’re two clicks away to our latest podcast episode, featuring an exclusive interview with Tunisia’s ambassador to the UN, Tarek Ladeb, as he assumes the monthly rotating presidency of the Security Council, and a Columbia University academic, Youssef Cherif, based in Tunis. …


A look at the agenda as the country takes over the UN Security Council Presidency.

by Stéphanie Fillion. Read more on PassBlue.

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It’s become the origin story of Tunisia’s revolution and the broader Arab Spring: In December 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire after years of being harassed by police officers and experiencing a series of humiliating encounters with local officials. His self-immolation became the focus of long-simmering anger toward the government, and Tunisians took to the streets, igniting protests that became so widespread that on Jan. 14, 2011, after 23 years of autocratic rule, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country.

Since then, Tunisia has become the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring, and it is currently serving on the Security Council for the first time since the revolution — this month as its rotating president. …


IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians recently detailed increasing attacks on legislators globally, “with women suffering more disproportionately” than men.

by Barbara Crossette. Read more on PassBlue.

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In the early afternoon of May 13, 2020, Joana Mamombe, a member of parliament in Zimbabwe, was seized by security officers after she participated in a pop-up protest, demanding aid for the poor during the Covid pandemic. She and two other rights advocates were accused of violating a lockdown, an act intended to demonstrate the urgency of the issue, according to Mamombe’s account.

For this civil violation, the result was brutal.

“Before they could be formally charged, they were taken to an undisclosed destination, where they were subjected to intense torture and degrading treatment,” an Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) report said about the case. “According to the complainant, the three suffered serious sexual abuse. . . …


Urquhart served from the opening session of the UN in the fall of 1945 until he stepped down in 1986 and embodied the very narrative of the institution from its inception.

By Stephen Schlesinger. Read more on PassBlue.

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Brian Urquhart, a Briton who had served the UN from its founding, across decades of global upheaval, died on Jan. 2, 2021, at 101 years old. Here, he speaks at a General Assembly commemoration marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, Jan. 24, 2005.

Brian Urquhart, who spent most of his adult life in service to the United Nations, died on Saturday, Jan. 2, at his home in Tyringham, Mass., in the Berkshires, where he retired after serving as one of the most notable figures in the history of the UN. In his tenure, he embodied the very narrative of the institution from its inception.

A specific cause of his death was not released by the family.

Urquhart served from the opening session of the UN in the fall of 1945 until he stepped down in 1986, just as the Cold War neared its end. His 40-year sojourn in the UN was a time of great fear and great upheaval — with the threat of atomic war hanging over humankind, extreme tensions between Communist nations and democratic ones, a series of conflicts risking mayhem around the world, the decolonization of the planet, the enlargement of the UN’s membership and the UN’s wholesale expansion into new areas of concern: development to population, food, health and environment. …


A prediction: what 2020 tried to take from women, 2021 will see women protect, and enhance. Thanks to essential workers and everyday women.

By Laura E Kirkpatrick. Read more on PassBlue.

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The woman of the year for 2020, the author proposes, is every woman who has demanded her rights be honored and is insisting on being central to the “build back better” goal for the post-pandemic world. Above, Brooklyn, N.Y., December 2020. JOHN PENNEY

How bad was 2020? So awful that Match.com made a commercial in which a woman named 2020 falls in love with the Devil and they live happily ever after. As annoying as it is that 2020 is portrayed as a woman, the ad sums up the year pretty well.

The year began promisingly, at least at the United Nations, with many events planned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, a progressive foundation to promote women’s rights in every country around the world. The events, including the annual Commission on the Status of Women, were some of the first to fall in the domino chain of cancellations unleashed by Covid-19, in early March. By June, it was clear that 2020 had turned from a year of highlighting progress for women and pushing for more success into one that could set women back generations. …


OpEd: Trump’s administration failed to promote the rights of women & girls at the UN, but Biden’s administration could resume the lead in securing human rights globally.

by Jessica Neuwirth. Read more on PassBlue.

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Amal Clooney, the British human-rights lawyer, speaking in the Security Council on April 23, 2019, in which a resolution was adopted focusing on ending sexual violence in war. Nadia Murad, right, won the Nobel Peace Prize with Dr. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese, in 2018 for working to end sexual atrocities. EVAN SCHNEIDER/UN PHOTO

A wave of relief and hope is sweeping across the United Nations, and the world, desperately awaiting the inauguration of Joe Biden and the beginning of the restoration of normalcy. Hopefully, we will quickly see the rebuilding of our country’s leadership and much-needed progress in the UN, as well as in other international forums and through bilateral diplomacy.

The three pillars of the UN are human rights, peace and security and development. The Trump administration has greatly undermined the work of the UN on all these fronts. Its bald articulation of an “America First” doctrine is antithetical to the principles on which the UN was founded as well as the principles that the United States of America has traditionally championed around the world. …


This Week @ The UN, Holiday Edition: catch up on all the top news at the world body.

by Ivana Ramirez. Read more on PassBlue.

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An A-to-Z list of Trump’s assaults on the rule of law; reactions to the US-Morocco-Western Sahara news; turmoil in the Central African Republic before elections.

Happy Boxing Day! 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, original reporting and other sources. We’ll be pausing the summary for the rest of the year. We wish everyone a joyous holiday time, despite the pandemic.

Good news in the final lap of our 2020 fund-raising campaign with NewsMatch: it has raised the matching amount to $12,500 from $11,500, so please donate today to double your gift to PassBlue by Dec. 31. Your support enables us to report thoroughly on the burning issues at the UN in 2021, including the Biden administration’s new relationship with the institution. …

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