International Press Syndicate

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Photo: United Nations Headquarters in New York City, view from Roosevelt Island

By Franz Baumann * | Reproduced courtesy of PassBlue

The author is a former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and special adviser on environment and peace operations. This article originally appeared with the headline: UN Bureaucracy? No, Thanks.

NEW YORK - After more than 30 years of service, I retired from the United Nations as an assistant secretary-general, Special Adviser on Environment and Peace Operations, at the end of 2015, but to officially conclude my tenure with the UN, there was bureaucratic paperwork to contend with, to which Bartleby the Scrivener, Melville’s reluctant clerk, might have said, “I would prefer not to.”

During my last week in the office, between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and despite the new information-technology system, Umoja, I had to fill out by hand myriad forms. Originals of my marriage certificate (from 1987) and our daughter’s birth certificate (2000) needed to be submitted, even though the UN had moved us as a family across oceans a few times.

American Friends Service Committee

PHILADELPHIA (INPS | AFSC) - Islamophobia is at work in our national media, according to an original content analysis by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker peace and justice organization. The analysis shows a disturbing narrative link between Muslims and extremism, and then over-represents violent responses to politically motivated conflict.

The report, Mixed Messages: How the Media Covers “Violent Extremism” and What You Can Do About It, reviewed more than 600 news items from 20 major U.S. news outlets. Articles were sampled during April-June 2015 from 15 national media outlets such as the New York Times and NPR, and five “influencer” outlets such as Politico and CQ Weekly that reach audiences of policymakers and government staff.

Photo: Secretary of State John Kerry laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum on April 11, 2016. Credit: U.S. State Department

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - We were standing in Hiroshima looking at a stone wall. All there was to see was a shadow of a man. It had been etched into the wall at the moment of his obliteration by the blinding light of the first atomic bomb.

Olof Palme, prime minister of Sweden, stared hard at it. An hour later he gave a speech as head of the Independent Commission on Disarmament of which I was a member. “My fear”, he remarked, “is that mankind itself will end up as nothing more than a shadow on a wall.”

President Charles de Gaulle of France once observed, “After a nuclear war the two sides would have neither powers, nor laws, nor cities, nor cultures, nor cradles, nor tombs.”

Photo: Japan’s senior vice-minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries Taku Eto tries out a Japanese-made tilling machine in Cameroon. Credit: The Government of Japan

Analysis by Kingsley Ighobor

NEW YORK (IDN | Africa Renewal) - To many Africans, Japan is a country acclaimed for economic and technological prowess. Johnson Obaluyi in Lagos, Nigeria, says Toyota, the ubiquitous automotive manufacturer, comes to mind whenever Japan is mentioned. For Kwesi Obeng, a Ghanaian living in Nairobi, Kenya, it is technology. Beageorge Cooper, a consultant for the World Bank in Monrovia, Liberia, says she thinks of Japan as “a former world economic power”.

But it’s a different matter when Africans are asked about Japan-Africa relations. “I will have to read up on that,” says Cooper. “I think we are importing their Toyotas,” recollects Obaluyi. “They support research into tropical diseases in Africa,” says Obeng.

Photo credit: Jeffrey Moyo

Analysis by Jeffrey Moyo

HARARE (IDN) - The third Pan African Capacity Development Forum organized by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), in partnership with the organisation’s Pan-African and international partners, has vowed to boost industry together with infrastructure, in order to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation in line with the ninth goal of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

As such, the organisation says it has invested more than $1 billion, building institutions in 45 countries on the African continent and supporting regional economic communities as well as continental organisations.

The SDGs were built on the eight anti-poverty targets that the world committed to achieving by 2015, dubbed the Millennium Development Goals.

Photo: David Nabarro. Credit: Africa Renewal

Masimba Tafirenyika interviews David Nabarro

David Nabarro is the new special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on sustainable development goals (SDGs), a plan of action for ending poverty adopted by UN member states in September 2015 to replace the Millennium Development Goals. Dr. Nabarro will work with member states to implement SDGs by 2030. The following are excerpts of his interview with Masimba Tafirenyika for Africa Renewal. IDN-InDepthNews is republishing the interview by arrangement with Africa Renewal.

Photo: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, addressing the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, 25 September 2015. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - A woman for the next secretary-general of the United Nations? Well, it’s a lot more complicated than that. There are other criteria in play – tthere is an unwritten rule that the regions of the world should take it in turns to occupy the UN’s top job. The east Europeans are saying it is their turn.

Ironically, since eastern Europe is now part of western Europe, the EU, the would-be candidates are in effect appealing to Russia to vote for them, since only as geographically part of the old Soviet alliance can they be regarded as an entity separate from western Europe.

How about a South Asian? Now that would make sense, since there has never been a secretary-general from there before and the subcontinent contains 1.7 billion people. However, no-one has put themselves forward.

Habitat III

By WBGU*

More than 2-3 billion people worldwide will move from the country to the cities within the next few decades, doubling the population of the world's slums. It will be the biggest migration of our time. The power of this urbanization surge will be the key driver of global change in the 21st century. This is highlighted by the report 'Humanity on the move – Unlocking the transformative power of cities', which was presented on April 25, 2016 by the German Advisory Council on Global Change (Wissenschaftlicher Beirat der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveränderungen, WBGU).

BERLIN - "Urban growth is so immense that it must urgently be channelled in new directions," said WBGU Co-Chair Dirk Messner, Director of the German Development Institute. If more and more new settlements were to be built with cement and steel in the cities of the developing countries and emerging economies, the energy-intensive production of this building material alone could release such huge quantities of greenhouse gases by 2050 that the world's emissions budget of the 1.5°C target would already be virtually exhausted.

Photo: In Aleppo, Syria, four-year-old Esraa and her brother Waleed, three, sit on the ground near a shelter for internally displaced persons. Credit: UNICEF/UN013175/Al-Issa

By Bretton Woods Project

WASHINGTON, D.C. - At the Civil Society Forum at the Spring Meetings, the Arab Network for Development & the World Bank MENA Team organised on April 14, 2016 a panel discussion on the socio-economic impacts of the Syrian crisis, the outgoing flow of migration and the World Bank’s model on how to tackle these issues following its new report. Highlights of the discussion are reflected here.

Speakers were: Björn Rother, Advisor Middle East & Central Asia Department, International Monetary Fund; Samir Aita, President of the Cercle des Economistes Arabes: Rabie Nasser, Researcher at the Syrian Center for Policy Research; Ahmad Awad, Director of the Phenix Center, Jordan; Shanta Devarajan, MENA chief Economist of the World Bank; and Michel Samaha, Affiliated Researcher at the Arab NGO Network for Development (moderator)

Photo: U.S. Marines from 1st Battalion 7th Marines enter a palace during the Fall of Baghdad. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - President Barack Obama has observed, “ISIL [Islamic State] is a direct outgrowth of Al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion – which is an example of unintended consequences- which is why we should generally aim before we shoot”.

Many of us, looking at the horror of the Iraq war, waged by the U.S. and the UK against the regime of Saddam Hussein when 200,000 civilians died and a total of 800 billion U.S. dollars was spent on the campaign, need little to be persuaded that there was a Machiavellian plot to find an excuse to make war. Yet there are many in the circles of power in Washington who believe the U.S. should shoot on sight and to kill whenever danger is thought to have appeared- in Iraq, Syria, Libya and, before that, in Vietnam.

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