Friday, 19 October 2012

UN announces Jeffrey Sachs' leadership of new Sustainability Initiative (PDF)

"Government, Geography, and Growth: The True Drivers of Economic Development," Foreign Affairs, September/October 2012. 

How to Advance the Rule of Law (Hint: Outside the UN)

At the United Nations, support for the rule of law has the aura of mom’s apple pie: Everybody loves it. Unfortunately, consensus ends there. UN member states can’t agree on how to define it, much less how to advance it globally. It’s unsurprising, then, that last week’s “High-Level UN Meeting on the Rule of Law” (perhaps you missed it?) was a bust. The meeting’s final declaration was a festival of empty blather, even by UN standards. And that is a wasted opportunity. For as my friend and colleague Mark Lagon points out in a just released policy innovation memorandum from the Council on Foreign Relations, improving the rule of law worldwide may be the critical step in improving prospects for human dignity and prosperity in the twenty-first century.  The lesson of the last week is that this effort can’t be left to the United Nations.

United Nations wants more power

The president of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday called upon nations to grant the UN more authority over global affairs.
“In reviewing the many statements that have been made, I have been struck by how much common ground exists on a wide range of issues," said Assembly President Vuk Jeremic of Serbia. "Obviously, significant differences of opinion remain to be overcome. Nevertheless, I believe there is room for optimism.”

Iran sets up secret team to infiltrate UN nuclear watchdog, say officials

… Mr Afarideh, reported to have close links with Iran 's ministry of intelligence, is in regular contact with a team of Iranian nuclear engineers seconded to work at the IAEA's Vienna headquarters…

Greenwash, Sustainable Development and Saving the Planet: Reasons to be both hugely disappointed and very excited

... Do you think that UNIDO has an important role as a bridge between the UN, governments and the business sector?
The UN is increasingly ignored or written off by many observers, including in the private sector, either because it isn’t responding to the key challenges ahead, or is seen as excessively slow and bureaucratic. While the UN needs to remain sensitive to these critiques, I think it still has a huge and not fully exploited role to play. There is no other global institution with the legitimacy, wealth of expertise and experience of the UN system. This gives it a unique moral and political leadership role. The UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (which is chaired by UNIDO Director-General, Kandeh Yumkella) and UNIDO’s Green Industry Platform, which was recently launched at the Rio+20 Conference, are pioneering a new level of global issue focus and partnership with industry. Initiatives such as these are essential to drive the transition to a new model of sustainable development and economic growth, which draws on the combined strengths of the public, private and civil society sectors. I am personally a big supporter of UNIDO’s Green Industry Platform, which I think represents a historic opportunity to bring together United Nations bodies with the business community to profile and promote best practices and inspire policy and technology innovations to advance Green Industry. This is our best hope of delivering, not only the continued development and economic growth needed for poverty alleviation and job creation, but also of preserving and restoring the ecosystems on which our collective future depends...

Is Afghanistan too dangerous for the U.N. Security Council?

... At the request of Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations -- who also favored postponing the trip -- attendance at today's meeting was restricted to the top Security Council ambassadors.
One council diplomat said that the official reason for the trip's cancellation is that no dates had ever been set and the consensus was that it would be better to postpone until the new year. But the "obvious reason," the official said, "is that you don't want to go to these dangerous places when there are threats."

US warns European governments against supporting Palestinians at UN

Private memo threatens 'significant negative consequences' if Palestinian Authority succeeds in obtaining enhanced status

Palestinian U.N. status likely to be debated in November

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations is likely to hold a debate on whether to upgrade the Palestinians' U.N. status to a sovereign country in mid-November - after the U.S. election, the president of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly said on Wednesday.
Having failed last year to win recognition of full statehood at the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said last week he would seek a less-ambitious status upgrade at the world body to make it a "non-member state" like the Vatican.