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Analysis and Comment (78)

Global shipping is expected to triple by 2060. Global shipping is expected to triple by 2060. Let Ideas Compete/Flickr

We need a global conservation agreement for the high seas

The high seas cover about 50% of Earth’s surface and host a major share of the world’s biodiversity, but remain largely ungoverned. With increasing threats to open ocean ecosystems, now more than ever…
IPCC leaders release their climate mitigation report in Berlin - but governments already have one eye on next year’s UN climate summit. IPCC leaders release their climate mitigation report in Berlin - but governments already have one eye on next year’s UN climate summit. EPA/Joerg Carstensen

‘Censored’ IPCC summary reveals jockeying for key UN climate talks

In the wake of this month’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on ways to cut global greenhouse gas emissions, accusations began to fly in the media that the report had been censored…
It’s 100 million years since Pangea, and we’re still waiting. It’s 100 million years since Pangea, and we’re still waiting. cleanbiz.asia/Cesar Herada

Why is there still no World Environment Organisation?

It seems an anomaly that among the 15 autonomous, specialised agencies within the United Nations – such as the FAO, WMO, WHO, or UNESCO – there is no dedicated environmental organisation. This secondary…
No vote: despite activists' urgings, the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks were stymied by the threat of veto. No vote: despite activists' urgings, the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks were stymied by the threat of veto. EPA/HENNING BAGGER/AAP

Votes, not vetoes: a new way to cut a United Nations climate deal

Anyone who has watched in frustration as the United Nations repeatedly failed to secure a meaningful climate treaty could be forgiven for taking a rather glum view on this weekend’s report by the Intergovernmental…
Will the global community definitively stigmatise Russia as an international pariah until it renounces the use of force to challenge a UN member’s territorial integrity? Will the global community definitively stigmatise Russia as an international pariah until it renounces the use of force to challenge a UN member’s territorial integrity? EPA/Alexey Nikolsky

What can Australia and the global community do about Russia?

The international community has been impotent since Russia responded to the November 2013 Ukraine crisis with force, culminating in annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea this month. The G7’s…
At a crossroads but what about junk food and booze? At a crossroads but what about junk food and booze? J. Stephen Conn

Fight against big tobacco gets funds – but what of other killers?

It is ironic how slowly the world is switching on to the threat of non-communicable diseases. NCDs such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are traditionally seen as diseases of gluttony or ignorance…
The Syrian civil war has left millions displaced and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, often in camps in a dire condition. The Syrian civil war has left millions displaced and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, often in camps in a dire condition. EPA

Syrian aid resolution a step forward by the UN

On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution that demands access for humanitarian aid organisations in Syria. This is an important step forward. It follows a Presidential…
Dark days at the Vatican. Dark days at the Vatican. Philipp Bohnenstengel

Preventing clerical child abuse goes beyond paedophile priests

The blame game about child abuse in the Catholic Church continues. While the Vatican are to give due consideration to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s demand to remove offenders and hand them…
Children in Australia will not be among those allowed to bring complaints of rights abuses by governments to the UN. Children in Australia will not be among those allowed to bring complaints of rights abuses by governments to the UN. AAP/Lukas Coch

Children and human rights abuses: coming to an international stage?

For the first time, children will soon be able to bring complaints of human rights violations to the United Nations. Although the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child has been in operation since…
A plane struggles to keep its course in stormy weather at Amsterdam airport last month. A plane struggles to keep its course in stormy weather at Amsterdam airport last month. EPA/OLAF KRAAK

Flying blind: global climate talks are getting us nowhere

If global aviation was a country, its emissions would be ranked about seventh in the world, between Germany and South Korea on CO2 emissions alone. Yet despite flying being a growing global contributor…
Australia is preparing to step back from climate action in front of a pretty huge audience. Australia is preparing to step back from climate action in front of a pretty huge audience. EPA/RADEK PIETRUSZKA

Backing away from climate funding will further damage Australia’s credentials

Australia’s refusal to support developing countries’ efforts under a new climate change agreement or the new UN Green Climate Fund will further undermine its claims to being a good international citizen…
It’s too early for the new government to lose interest in international climate negotiations. It’s too early for the new government to lose interest in international climate negotiations. EPA/NIC BOTHMA

Abbott’s climate ‘diplomacy’ sends the wrong message

This week, the Australian Government announced that it would not send a minister to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Poland for the first time since 1997. This announcement…
A dangerous, dirty job - but someone has to do it. A dangerous, dirty job - but someone has to do it. EPA/Moadamiyeh Media Centre

OPCW deserves Nobel for long fight against chemical weapons

The abduction, in northern Syria, of seven Red Cross workers is a stark reminder of how dangerous it is to work in that war-torn country, even for such an internationally recognised humanitarian organisation…
Optimism is lovely, but individual action won’t solve climate change. Optimism is lovely, but individual action won’t solve climate change. \!/_PeacePlusOne/Flickr

Fixing climate change: the future isn’t what it used to be

This is the last part of a series following on from the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report and looking at emerging alternatives to the UN climate agreement…
Getting an agreement on gas could set the tone for other industry emissions reduction agreements. Getting an agreement on gas could set the tone for other industry emissions reduction agreements. stefo/Flickr

Could sectoral agreements solve climate change?

This is part two of a three-part series that follows on from the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, looking at emerging alternatives to the UN climate agreement…
The UN Security Council’s statement on the humanitarian and refugee crisis developing in Syria may be a start, but will it actually help those displaced? The UN Security Council’s statement on the humanitarian and refugee crisis developing in Syria may be a start, but will it actually help those displaced? EPA/Jamal Nasrallah

Can the UN solve Syria’s humanitarian disaster?

After finally passing its first resolution on the Syrian crisis late last week, the United Nations Security Council has now turned its attention to the humanitarian crisis now unfolding within the country…
Our climate system is collapsing, but international negotiations in Paris still hold out the best promise for change. Our climate system is collapsing, but international negotiations in Paris still hold out the best promise for change. 350.org/Flickr

Climate talks could succeed, if Australia toughens targets

Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Rajendra Pachauri, said last week that on climate, “We have five minutes before midnight”. He argues that governments have historically avoided…
Maybe reducing the number of participants would help bring agreement. Maybe reducing the number of participants would help bring agreement. Andrea Lawardi

International climate agreements? There must be a better way

With the release Friday of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report of the state of climate science, the message has never been clearer: we have to do something to get…
A little less conversation, a little more action please. A little less conversation, a little more action please. Stefan Rousseau/PA

UN General Assembly another venue for Obama’s inaction

And so the annual autumn ritual of American masochism begins again in New York. Like inviting your least likeable in-laws to detail your worst features to your nearest and dearest after an agreeable Christmas…
Dilma day. Dilma day. redebrasilatual

Multipolar moment brings chance of golden age for UN

The annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly always draws distinguished speakers, but their speeches rarely have much international impact. General Assembly speeches are heavy on rhetoric…
So good, they gave it a Nobel Peace Prize (2007) So good, they gave it a Nobel Peace Prize (2007) IPCC

Explainer: what is the IPCC anyway, and how does it work?

The latest climate change assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, is due to arrive this weekend. This will be the fifth comprehensive assessment report (AR5) prepared by…
Should new prime minister Tony Abbott make his first impression on a world stage with a trip to the UN for Leaders' Week? Should new prime minister Tony Abbott make his first impression on a world stage with a trip to the UN for Leaders' Week? AAP/Andrew Gombert

New York is Jakarta: why Tony Abbott should attend Leaders’ Week at the UN

Foreign minister Julie Bishop’s austerity announcements over the weekend make it clear that she will attend Leaders' Week at the United Nations later this month. But it is still not clear whether Australia’s…
Great Satan: Iran-US relations will have to overcome 30 years of emnity. Great Satan: Iran-US relations will have to overcome 30 years of emnity. Open Democracy

UN assembly could see thaw between Iran and ‘Great Satan’

After more than three decades of false starts and missed opportunities, something might be finally moving on the diplomatic front between Iran and the United States. The two relatively moderate administrations…
Hard to get rid of: the US still hasn’t destroyed its chemical weapons stockplie. Hard to get rid of: the US still hasn’t destroyed its chemical weapons stockplie. US government

Explainer: how will Syria’s chemical weapons be destroyed?

Bashar Assad’s decision to sign up Syria to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) last week committed his country to verifiably give up the possession of chemical weapons and their production capabilities…
Raising the issue of protecting women in conflict zones such as Syria should be high on Australia’s agenda when it assumes presidency of the Security Council. Raising the issue of protecting women in conflict zones such as Syria should be high on Australia’s agenda when it assumes presidency of the Security Council. EPA/Lucie Parsaghian

Women, peace and security: the theme of Australia’s Security Council presidency

A priority mentioned in Australian speeches and statements to the United Nations this year - Women, Peace and Security (WPS) - is likely to feature as the key “theme” of Australia’s presidency of the Security…
Deadly force: the US navy’s humanitarian intervention in Libya in 2011. Deadly force: the US navy’s humanitarian intervention in Libya in 2011. Wikimedia Commons

International law is clear: no UN mandate, no Syria strikes

As the drums beat louder for the possibility of Western military intervention in Syria, we have seen discussion of an intervention on moral, strategic and practical grounds. But so far none of the major…
The UN Security Council’s sanctions regime processes are in need of reform. Can Australia make any effective changes during its presidency of the Security Council? The UN Security Council’s sanctions regime processes are in need of reform. Can Australia make any effective changes during its presidency of the Security Council? EPA/Justin Lane

Security Council sanctions: can Australia make a difference?

For the United Nations Security Council, sanctions are an important instrument in addressing threats to international peace and security. They usually take the form of controls and bans on travel, trade…
Modern warfare: armed forces routinely protect against chemical attack. Modern warfare: armed forces routinely protect against chemical attack. Wikimedia Commons

Chemical massacre in Syria: a former UN disarmament commissioner’s view

The motive and timing of the alleged chemical attack last week in Damascus appear strange, but Western powers including the US, UK and France, backed by other regional players including Turkey now seem…
Best friends forever: Russia has always supported Syria, despite international pressure. Best friends forever: Russia has always supported Syria, despite international pressure. Freedom House

Fatal attraction: Russia’s flawed friendship with Syria

As UN inspectors finally began their search for evidence of chemical weapons being used in Syria, on Wednesday Damascus apparently suffered the worst attack of this kind yet in this conflict. Some reports…
Kevin Rudd reportedly plans to revisit the UN’s Refugee Convention as the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat continue daily. Kevin Rudd reportedly plans to revisit the UN’s Refugee Convention as the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat continue daily. EPA/Tubagus

Explainer: Australia’s obligations under the UN Refugee Convention

Prime minister Kevin Rudd has indicated that he would like to revisit Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. We are yet to learn what this may mean…
Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at UN headquarters in New York to call for freedom for education for children globally. Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at UN headquarters in New York to call for freedom for education for children globally. EPA/Justin Lane

Malala’s dreams are up against a rough terrain

Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, now recovered from serious injuries after the Taliban shot her last year, delivered a defiant speech to the United Nations General Assembly over the weekend. She called…
The Catholic Church has been reticent about its investigations into child abuse. The Catholic Church has been reticent about its investigations into child abuse. John Shore

Vatican silence on abuse likely to continue despite UN plea

Last week the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) asked the Vatican to disclose details of child sexual abuse cases involving Catholic clergy for the period November 1995 to January 2014. According…
Lethal force: will more weapons increase the chance of a peaceful solution in Syria? Lethal force: will more weapons increase the chance of a peaceful solution in Syria? Freedom House via Creative Commons

Is it legal to supply arms to Syrian rebels?

With the UK and France free of their EU obligations to refrain from providing lethal assistance to the rebels and the US now deciding that the time has come strategically and politically to do so, all…
Australia should use its new power on the UN Security Council to make sure women are high on the UN agenda. Australia should use its new power on the UN Security Council to make sure women are high on the UN agenda. UNIFEM

On the ‘big table’ of the Security Council, Australia must champion the cause of women

Australia has always taken a lead role in international security debates at the United Nations. In Canberra, representatives from civil society organisations will meet with the government to discuss Australia’s…
The world’s getting more crowded - how do we all get what we need while protecting the environment? The world’s getting more crowded - how do we all get what we need while protecting the environment? James Cridland

One more chance at getting it right? The UN sustainable development goals

Global population trajectories put us at nine billion people by 2050. Our demand for natural resources, particularly water, food and energy, will only rise in the coming decades. With this in mind, how…
The approval of the first global arms treaty by the UN may be more a case of misplaced enthusiasm than cause for real celebration. The approval of the first global arms treaty by the UN may be more a case of misplaced enthusiasm than cause for real celebration. EPA/Inter Services Public Relations

Up in arms: why the UN’s weapons control treaty lacks bite

The United Nations on Tuesday approved the first treaty on the global arms trade which would regulate a business that amounts to over US$70 billion. There were 154 nations in favour, three against and…
Rwandan warlord Bosco Ntaganda has handed himself into the International Criminal Court. What implications does this have for future cases? Rwandan warlord Bosco Ntaganda has handed himself into the International Criminal Court. What implications does this have for future cases? AAP/Peter Dejong

Congo warlord Bosco Ntaganda’s surrender offers renewed hopes for peace

On the morning of the 18th of March, Bosco “The Terminator” Ntaganda presented himself at the US Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, and requested that he be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC…
We were delighted to be elected to the security council, now we must make the most of our tenure. We were delighted to be elected to the security council, now we must make the most of our tenure. AAP/Andrew Gombert

Australia must take a human rights focus at the security council

Now that Australia has taken its seat on the UN Security Council, it is worth considering how we might make a difference. Former diplomat Bruce Haig has recently dismissed Australia’s new role as chair…
Boycotting the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is not Anti-Semitic; it’s a recognition of violations of international law. Boycotting the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is not Anti-Semitic; it’s a recognition of violations of international law. Flickr/delayed gratification

Establishing the facts about the boycott of Israeli academic institutions

The last weeks of 2012 saw a great amount of criticism levelled at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University and its director Jake Lynch following their boycott of an exchange program…
Governments should be careful to protect human rights when contracting with businesses, such as health services in immigration detention. Governments should be careful to protect human rights when contracting with businesses, such as health services in immigration detention. Department of Immigration & Citizenship

It’s time for business schools to put human rights on the agenda

Last week, the UN held its first-ever business and human rights forum in Geneva. It’s part of a growing awareness that multinationals have a big impact on human rights. Opening the forum, the UN’s human…
Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian delegation applaud after the vote on a resolution to upgrade Palestine’s status in the UN. Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian delegation applaud after the vote on a resolution to upgrade Palestine’s status in the UN. EPA/Andrew Gombert

The art of the possible: recognising Palestinian statehood

The road of history is a pot-holed one. But that doesn’t mean, despite the crashes and stutters, that we don’t eventually get past them. The UN vote over upgrading the Palestinians to non-member observer…
Australia has won a seat at the table; but how much is it actually worth? Australia has won a seat at the table; but how much is it actually worth? EPA/Andrew Gombert

A misunderstood victory: Australia and the security council

It took a herculean effort, a lot of lobbying and much cash, but Australia has now, with a certain degree of surprise, netted a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council for two years, starting in…
With its natural beauty, Rio provided the ideal backdrop for the earth summit. With its natural beauty, Rio provided the ideal backdrop for the earth summit. Anna Magal

Rio+20 and chronic diseases: a glass half-empty or half-full?

Rio provided the ideal backdrop for the Rio+20 “earth summit” – with the jungle at its backdoor, nestled among magnificent jagged mountaintops, bordered by kilometres of white sandy Atlantic beaches, and…
Huge conferences with thousands of participants aren’t getting us anywhere. Huge conferences with thousands of participants aren’t getting us anywhere. Nic Bothma/EPA

Rio+20: We do not need more global sustainability conferences

Global sustainability conferences no longer fulfil a useful purpose, considering the existing dense institutional framework. We know what the problems are and need no further agenda setting. We need action…
We need to take a better look at the role women can play in the Millenium Devlopment Goals. We need to take a better look at the role women can play in the Millenium Devlopment Goals. AAP/EPA/Harish Tyagi

Challenge 11: How improving women’s status helps us all

In part 11 of the multi-disciplinary Millennium Project series, Danielle Logue and Mel Dunn note the striking absence of male voices in discussions of women’s empowerment, despite it being fundamental…
Big, ambitious strides aren’t the way to escape from this mess. Big, ambitious strides aren’t the way to escape from this mess. EPA/Zsolt Szigetvary

Rio+20: Small steps could get us out of the climate quicksand

Yesterday, Nick Rowley looked at the history of sustainability agreements and why we’ve reached the impasse of Rio+20. Today he suggests a different approach. Back in November 2005, your perspective on…
The Rio Earth Summit approach to saving the planet is looking pretty old-fashioned. The Rio Earth Summit approach to saving the planet is looking pretty old-fashioned. United Nations Photos

Rio+20: Multi-lateralism staggers; how to make it run?

Twenty years ago in a clamour of global public and media interest, representatives of all UN member states gathered in Rio de Janeiro to take part in the first Earth Summit. Later this week, the Rio+20…
How bad do things have to get before we want to seriously address environmental issues? How bad do things have to get before we want to seriously address environmental issues? AAP

UN produces another boring global environmental warning; world continues not caring

The fifth edition of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5) - a global environmental report card by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - reads like the results for a sedentary, middle-aged…
Can a booming coal industry and a Heritage-Listed reef co-exist? Can a booming coal industry and a Heritage-Listed reef co-exist? AAP/Dave Hunt

The Great Barrier Reef at a crossroads

Last Friday the World Heritage Centre and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a report on the state of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest World Heritage Property…
The bodies of people, including children, that anti-government activists claimed were killed by the Syrian Army in Houla. The bodies of people, including children, that anti-government activists claimed were killed by the Syrian Army in Houla.

Syria: is an international solution possible?

The appalling massacre of civilians, including children, in the town of Houla, near the Syrian city of Homs, was a senseless act beyond the unacceptable and ultimately self-defeating goal of crushing all…
Chronic diseases act as a driver for disadvantage in the developing world, leading to cycles of poverty. Chronic diseases act as a driver for disadvantage in the developing world, leading to cycles of poverty. Secom Bahia/Flickr

Five myths about the global epidemic of chronic diseases

The eyes and ears of the global health world were firmly fixed on Geneva last week for the 2012 World Health Assembly, the annual meeting of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) member states. One of…
Knocking down forests and planting palm oil makes sense in Asia. Providing alternative income sources for villagers could make it less attractive. Knocking down forests and planting palm oil makes sense in Asia. Providing alternative income sources for villagers could make it less attractive. Simon J. Rowntree

Forestry, economic development & climate change in Asia: resolving the tension

Reducing poverty in developing countries through economic development is often contrary to addressing climate change. In countries like Indonesia, many of the strongest drivers of the economy – palm oil…
Rudd’s commitment to Australia’s bid for a UN security council seat must continue under Bob Carr. Rudd’s commitment to Australia’s bid for a UN security council seat must continue under Bob Carr. EPA/Jason Szenes

Australia shouldn’t give up on a UN security council seat

Now we have a new foreign minister, some have suggested it’s time for Australia to give up its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. During his time as prime minister and foreign minister…
UNESCO is reviewing whether more needs to be done to preserve the reef’s heritage listing. UNESCO is reviewing whether more needs to be done to preserve the reef’s heritage listing. AAP

Is the Great Barrier Reef listing? The UN asks if we’re still heritage-worthy

Obtaining a World Heritage listing for a national asset is a source of great pride for any country. The Taj Mahal (1983), Borobudur (1991) and Uluru (2007) are examples where countries have obtained the…
Manure is a great source of phosphorus, but we’ve largely removed it from agriculture. Manure is a great source of phosphorus, but we’ve largely removed it from agriculture. Flickr/Amy Alana Star

Time for policy action on global phosphorus security

Without phosphorus we cannot produce food. Yet even as pressure mounts on this critical non-renewable resource, there is a startling lack of global governance of its use and supply. If no one takes responsibility…
A proposed United Nations panel could give biodiversity the same profile as climate change. A proposed United Nations panel could give biodiversity the same profile as climate change. Dano/Flickr

We need an international approach to biodiversity (but local action)

It’s looking increasingly likely that this will be the year the United Nations introduces an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) - a group similar to the IPCC, but…
Food comes from forests: surely that’s worth talking about? Food comes from forests: surely that’s worth talking about? CIFOR

Ignoring forests won’t bring Rio+20’s ‘future we want’

In June 2012 around 40,000 participants are expected to attend one of the most important environmental gatherings in a generation - Rio+20. A draft agenda has been released, bearing the slogan “The Future…
Some jurisdictions are pushing for aviation emissions controls, but an international agreement seems far away. Some jurisdictions are pushing for aviation emissions controls, but an international agreement seems far away. Cardiff Friends of the Earth

See you in court: solving aviation emissions is an international mess

Aviation is a growing source of emissions. Emissions from aviation are increasing against a background of decreasing emissions from many other industry sectors. Airlines - with their international reach…
Will the UN recommendations pull people out of poverty and reduce pressure on the environment? Will the UN recommendations pull people out of poverty and reduce pressure on the environment? The Advocacy Project

UN sustainability panel says put a price on the environment

A recent cartoon (below) extrapolates the use of the word “sustainable”. It predicts that in 50 years each sentence will on average contain the word at least once. The cartoon is clever, and “sustainable…
When people need to beg, the last thing we should be doing is seeing them as criminals. When people need to beg, the last thing we should be doing is seeing them as criminals. Flickr/galawebdesign

Forget your coins, we want change: begging should not be a crime

The criminal offence of begging should be abolished. Criminalising begging is tantamount to criminalising poverty. It perpetuates, rather than alleviates, the marginalisation and disadvantage experienced…
Shouldn’t we try harder to stop runaway climate change? Shouldn’t we try harder to stop runaway climate change? AAP

Durban did too little: here are alternatives to the UN process

In the month and a half since the Durban climate change conference it has been said that the “international climate process” has been “strengthened” and that Durban resulted in “the means and the ends…
The US has information about its threatened species, but isn’t acting on it. The US has information about its threatened species, but isn’t acting on it. photommo/Flickr

Three-quarters of America’s threatened species aren’t being protected

We know very little about the world’s biodiversity. A recent study suggests that, despite 250 years of taxonomic effort, a mere 14% of the world’s species are recognised by scientists. Worryingly, anthropogenic…
It’s time to slice through the chit-chat and reach an agreement on aviation emissions. It’s time to slice through the chit-chat and reach an agreement on aviation emissions. donbuciak

Is anyone tough enough to push through an aviation emissions agreement?

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: Whatever fruits ripen out of the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Durban, a global aviation emissions agreement is unlikely to be among them. Thus far, Durban…
No new climate dawn at Durban? It’s not the end of the world. No new climate dawn at Durban? It’s not the end of the world. Andrew Roos

And what if nothing happens at Durban?

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: Progress towards a binding international agreement on targets to tackle global warming has been more than glacial. Yet despite growing alarm among the climate science…
Asylum seekers held in detention centres like Villawood have been protesting that the current system doesn’t work. Asylum seekers held in detention centres like Villawood have been protesting that the current system doesn’t work. AAP/Dean Lewins

Why Australia should abandon the Refugee Convention

With the collapse of offshore processing, and the likely increase in boat arrivals into a politically charged environment, a cross-road may have been reached regarding asylum policy in Australia. Now would…
The Palestinian delegation to UNESCO await the outcome of the vote on membership. The Palestinian delegation to UNESCO await the outcome of the vote on membership. AAP

Palestine vote: America the loser as it withdraws funding from UNESCO

The United States announced last Monday that it would refuse to pay its 2011 funding commitment to the United Nations' lead cultural and educational body following that organisation’s decision to admit…
Solomon Island women were excluded from the peace-making process after the civil war. Solomon Island women were excluded from the peace-making process after the civil war. AAP Image/Lloyd Jones

Excluded: The forgotten women of war and peace

There is a profound silence in conflict. Women’s voices are absent. They are excluded from decision-making and peace processes across the world’s trouble spots. This exclusion not only perpetuates political…
A Palestinian girl in Gaza atop a destroyed house on the day President Abbas formally requested UN recognition of Palestine. A Palestinian girl in Gaza atop a destroyed house on the day President Abbas formally requested UN recognition of Palestine. AAP

UN recognition: Palestine, Israel and the path forward

President Mahmoud Abbas has formally submitted Palestine’s application for full member status of the United Nations. The United States has already promised to veto the application at the Security Council…
Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon addresses the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs on September 19, 2011. Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon addresses the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs on September 19, 2011. UN Photo/Marco Castro

Non-communicable diseases come to the United Nations

Non-communicable diseases – Professor Stephen Leeder looks at what came out of the UN meeting on NCDs. Despite the lack of definite goals and targets, the United Nations High-Level Meeting in New York…
The most promising interventions to curb obesity’s prevalence target the population as a whole rather than individuals. The most promising interventions to curb obesity’s prevalence target the population as a whole rather than individuals. Tobyotter

Stemming the obesity epidemic requires courageous, population-level action

Non-communicable diseases – Lennert Veerman examines the reasons for the obesity epidemic and options for controlling it. Obesity levels are on the rise the world over. This is a sign that something is…
Palestinian civilians outside a United Nations installation in the West Bank city of Hebron. Palestinian civilians outside a United Nations installation in the West Bank city of Hebron. AAP

State of play: why Palestine’s bid for UN recognition might be counter-productive

Some hypothetical situations just aren’t worth investing too much thought in. What would I serve the Queen if she turned up for dinner? What sort of private jet would I buy if I inherited a billion dollars…
We all think we know what a child soldier looks like, but we’d be wrong. We all think we know what a child soldier looks like, but we’d be wrong. AFP/Georges Gobet

How child soldiers are recruited from refugee camps

The commander of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Rwanda during the terrible conflict in the early 1990s has put forward legislation in Canada to help former child soldiers seek refuge there. During…
Jubiliant Libyans celebrate the arrival of rebel forces in central Tripoli. Jubiliant Libyans celebrate the arrival of rebel forces in central Tripoli. AAP

Libya: the death throes of the Gaddafi regime

The situation in Libya remains fluid but with armed rebel fighters now in Green Square in central Tripoli, it appears the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is in its final hours. Two of the dictator’s…
The UN is protecting your right to express yourself in social media. The UN is protecting your right to express yourself in social media. Flickr/-lucky cat-

Click, like, comment? The UN goes digital on freedom of expresssion

General Comment No. 34 on Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights may sound like something from a bureaucratic nightmare, but it drags your right to freedom of expression into the digital…
Syrian troops withdraw from the city of Hama where they were quelling pro-democracy protests. Syrian troops withdraw from the city of Hama where they were quelling pro-democracy protests. AFP/STR

Solving the crisis in Syria. Where will the unrest end?

The United States has stepped up sanctions against Syria, targeting President Bashar al-Assad’s financial resources. Syria claims to have withdrawn its troops from the city of Hama, which has played a…
Palestinian medics attend to an elderly woman in the shadow of the Israeli wall. Palestinian medics attend to an elderly woman in the shadow of the Israeli wall. AAP

Explainer: The upcoming UN Palestinian sovereignty vote

The United Nations is set to vote on recognising Palestine as an independent state next month. What the chances of the Palestinian initiative succeeding? What implications would recognition of Palestinian…
The UN General Assembly will discuss a global approach to combating non-communicable diseases in September. The UN General Assembly will discuss a global approach to combating non-communicable diseases in September. AAP

Leading light: why Australia should show the world how to combat lifestyle diseases

Australia has done well by international comparison in addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) over the past fifty years and while there remains much to do, we could play a leading role in the upcoming…