World Politics Review

Russia is flexing its diplomatic muscles at the United Nations again. Moscow appears intent on using the U.N. to complicate American efforts to put pressure on North Korea and sow confusion over its own intentions toward Ukraine. Western diplomats should be alert, because Russia is a fine player of the U.N. game.

Sep 11, 2017
Richard Gowan
Middle East, Syria

A United Nations Security Council debate can feel like traveling in an airplane at cruising altitude: a quick continental overflight in a rarefied atmosphere, far above the dirty reality of the conflict below. The debate can be driven by factors that may have little to do with what may be happening on the ground.

But from time to time, council members come back to earth and get dust on their shoes when they engage in road-trip diplomacy. In January members went to Burundi; this month they were in West Africa.

Mar 21, 2016
Jim Della-Giacoma
United Nations

Peace and the United Nations go together; at least that’s what its founders intended. But in the meeting rooms of the organization’s New York headquarters, diplomats often argue over the buzzword vocabulary of compound words and phrases for advancing the U.N.’s peace mandate. They parse whether an operation is a special political mission or a peacekeeping mission. They worry that calling something a “peace operation” is too imprecise. When they cannot agree whether something should be peace building or “sustaining the peace,” they compromise by using both terms.

Apr 04, 2016
Jim Della-Giacoma
United Nations

Prevention has long been a dirty word at the United Nations: Some member states equate it with interference, and the need for early warning that accompanies it with spying. But in a time of crisis, some think the time has come to reconsider what role the world body should play in stopping conflict before it happens.

Mar 14, 2016
Jim Della-Giacoma
United Nations

The first time I heard the German word “zwangsoptimist” was in a meeting to discuss ways to improve how the international system functions. Meaning “someone who feels compelled to be an optimist,” the word not only succinctly sums up my work for and alongside the U.N. over the past 27 years, but could also be a one-word job description for the organization’s next secretary-general.

Mar 28, 2016
Jim Della-Giacoma
Europe, Middle East, Syria, South Asia
United Nations

International conflict management is not necessarily a rewarding occupation for people who have neat and orderly minds. Well-made plans tend to fall apart in fast-moving crises. As I noted in a chapter in a book on the Security Council published earlier this year, the recent history of United Nations peace operations is basically a story of “one damn thing after another.” U.N.

Dec 28, 2015
Richard Gowan

Welcome to what could turn out to be the most important, and potentially the most destructive, week in international diplomacy since the end of the Cold War.

Read the full World Politics Review article Iran Talks, Greece Crisis Open Make-or-Break Week for West

Jun 29, 2015
Richard Gowan
Europe, Middle East

Policy papers from the U.N. rarely make for scintillating reading. Last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released “Uniting Our Strengths for Peace,” a new report by an expert panel on the future of peace operations. 

Read the full World Politics Review article Technical Fixes Not Enough to Shore Up U.N. Peacekeeping

Jun 22, 2015
United Nations

The world is finally waking up to the fact that the international humanitarian system is falling apart.

Read the full World Politics Review article To Shore Up Humanitarian System, Address Crises at Their Source

Jun 15, 2015
Richard Gowan
United Nations

Do peacekeepers do more harm than good? An appalling abuse scandal has come to overshadow the two parallel peace operations, led by France and the United Nations, currently based in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Read the full World Politics Review article CAR Scandal Reflects U.N. Peacekeeping’s Loss of Strategic Direction

Jun 08, 2015
Richard Gowan
Sub-Saharan Africa
United Nations

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