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UN negotiators will struggle to balance the demands of countries that want binding emissions targets, and those that don’t. EPA/Paolo Aguilar

‘Legally binding’ demands are still the biggest climate dealbreaker

Could the preoccupation with legally binding targets sink the next climate deal in Paris in 2015? In the run-up to this week’s Lima talks, widely seen as a precursor to the Paris summit, the Abbott government…
Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop are bidding to repair the government’s tarnished reputation on climate - but have they pledged enough? AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Australia’s $200 million climate pledge falls short of its true debt

At the United Nations Lima climate summit, Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop has pledged A$200 million over four years to the Green Climate Fund, which seeks to raise US$100 billion (A$120 billion…
UN troops come close to being above the law. Peter Macdiarmid/PA Archive

When UN peacekeepers commit atrocities, someone has to act

Sexual exploitation, child abuse, corruption and torture. These are just some of the many crimes committed by United Nations peacekeepers. Such abuses have the potential to undermine and even delegitimise…
Arguably for the first time, the United States and China have truly listened to one another on emissions cuts. EPA/Petar Kujundzic

US-China climate deal: at last, a real game-changer on emissions

The new US-China climate deal is a game-changer. The United States, the world’s biggest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, has pledged to cut emissions by 26-28% by 2025 relative to 2005 levels, while…
The new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, criticised Australia in his opening address to the UN Human Rights Council. EPA/Salvatore di Nolfi

Explainer: why is the UN reviewing Australia’s record on torture?

The Australian government is being examined on Monday evening by the United Nations Committee against Torture. Before the independent committee of experts, an Australian government delegation has to answer…
Female members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) helped patrol the outskirts of Makhmur, a northern Iraqi town that was seized back from Islamic State militants in August. AAP/Eddie Gerald

Our forgotten allies against Islamic State: Iraqi and Syrian women

Women and girls living in Syria and Iraq have been subject to gross sexual violence, economic strife and the psychological trauma of a war that, to them, seems endless. But women in these countries are…
Mining giant Rio Tinto, which has operated in Guinea for 50 years, has donated just US$100,000 to the UN Ebola fund. EPA/Ahmed Jallanzo

Mining companies must dig deep in the fight against Ebola

The current outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa shows no signs of halting. More than 4,500 people have died and many thousands more are infected. Despite the creation of a new United Nations mission…
Don’t drink the water. EPA/Marco Dormino/UN

Haitian cholera victims could soon bring the UN to court

In October 2010, a cholera outbreak began in Haiti for the first time in more than 100 years. The strain that was brought into Haiti has been traced to a region in Nepal from which a UN peacekeeping contingent…
US president Barack Obama addresses the 2014 UN Climate Summit. EPA/JUSTIN LANE

A view from the 2014 UN Climate Summit in New York

The 2014 UN Climate Summit has wrapped up in New York. What has progressed and what big challenges remain in the run up to and beyond the Paris negotiations in December 2015? Secretary General of the UN…
World greenhouse emissions reached a new record in 2013 and will be even higher in 2014, driven largely by the continued use of fossil fuels such as coal. nito/Shutterstock

Global carbon report: emissions will hit new heights in 2014

As heads of state gather in New York for tomorrow’s United Nations climate summit, a new report on the state of the world’s carbon budget tells them that greenhouse emissions hit a new record last year…
There’s little consensus on how to proceed after 2015. EPA/Yonhap

How UN managerialism is stifling the voices of the poor

Once hailed as “the world’s biggest promise”, the Millennium Development Goals, a 14-year-old series of commitments made by governments to tackle global poverty, will expire at the end of 2014. There is…
Women’s Liberation was a worldwide mobilisation that paved the way for powerful critiques of conventional thinking about gender, sexuality and identity. Warren K. Leffler, 1970/Library of Congress

Four decades of thinking gender: the gains, struggles and debates

The past four decades have produced gains around the world for women and girls in literacy, formal education, life expectancy, workforce participation and access to some professions. We have also seen…
Violence that happens behind closed doors and within families is finally being recognised as a crime – not just a “domestic”. Jaybird/Flickr

Violent words, not just deeds, leave a lasting mark on our kids

She showed me the cigarette burns on her arms. Her eyes seemed empty as she slumped in the chair, answering questions with defeated shrugs. Finally she explained that her stepfather had held her down and…

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