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United Nations

Even Putin is not beyond the law

Russia’s ability to launch its so-called “special military operation” to undertake “denazification” in Ukraine has not so far faced international legal sanction. On 25 February, a draft UN Security Council Resolution was debated, but failed to win support after a Russian veto. Since then,

Sustainable catch: navigating global fisheries crime

A fish consumed in Australia could be caught near Palau, by a Thai vessel with a Cambodian crew, shipped to a packing plant in Vietnam and sold to a distributor in Taiwan before reaching the Australian market. The global scope of fisheries management makes it a contested area of international

Oslo talks expose the West’s Taliban dilemma 

Last week, Western officials held closed-door discussions with a Taliban delegation hosted by Norway in Oslo, making clear that humanitarian aid to Afghanistan would be conditional on an improvement in human rights in the war-torn country. The need for assistance is urgent, with the United

Peace and security are not the same thing

Billed as a “monumental” agreement, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) recently signed a Strategic Partnership Framework Action Plan with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPO). The role of this action plan is to guide the development of counter-terrorism and

Honouring the dead on the path to Korean peace

Almost 70 years on, the Korean war is still not formally over. The United States and South Korea are in the final stages of drafting an end-of-war declaration text. Since his address at the United Nations General Assembly in September, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has made the declaration

Glasgow delivered, but what, exactly?

The Glasgow climate conference – the 26th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Climate Convention – was held in uniquely difficult circumstances compared to its 25 predecessors: during a global pandemic, facing a two-year backlog of work due to its postponement from 2020

Zooming out of digital diplomacy

We’re firmly entrenched in an era of hybrid diplomacy, floating between in-person and videoconference diplomacy. In speaking to those in the game, three facts have come to light: there’s no turning back; videoconferences are inadequate; and the only way out, is forward. Foreign ministries have

Did 9/11 change our world?

We asked six experts, “Did 9/11 define our world? If so, how? If not, what did?” After each of their responses to these questions, editor Lydia Khalil challenges the experts with questions that delve deeper into their rationales and reasons

R2P: An idea whose time never comes

In May, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to include an item about “the Responsibility to Protect” on the Assembly’s annual agenda. On one view, the resolution is not a big deal. There are more than 100 standing items on the annual agenda, on topics ranging from

Response to Myanmar coup shows need for UN reform

It’s been almost three months since Myanmar’s military junta seized power from the democratically elected government. More than 700 protesters have been killed, and more than 3000 arrested. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has said that the military is likely committing

Australia in focus at the UN Human Rights Council

Australia is a peaceful, prosperous nation that vocalises its support for human rights – and yet last week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, one after another, countries voiced their concerns about serious human rights violations that are being committed in Australia, particularly relating

Bringing space law into the 21st century

Throughout 2020, a renewed debate has taken hold over international legal frameworks and the governance of outer space. A flurry of outer space activities has ensured this debate has gained extra attention. These include China’s Chang’e-5 mission, which in December landed an unmanned craft on

A chance for the US to change its tune on justice

On Monday last week, 72 countries at the United Nations offered their “unwavering support” for the International Criminal Court (ICC). Among them were Australia, Canada, the UK, France and others that have signed the Rome Statute, which established the ICC. In doing so, these states expressed

Peace Prize to WFP: A win for international cooperation

The recent announcement that the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the World Food Program (WFP) attracted little attention in Australia. It is true that the spirit of internationalism is not strong across the globe at present. Nevertheless, Australians should celebrate WFP’s global role. Over

But what does “rules-based order” mean?

Although the “rules-based international order” is central to Australian strategy, what exactly this concept means remains a work very much in progress. For Australia to achieve its objectives for the order, it will have to get more specific. A hardy perennial The importance to Australia of

Diplomacy after Covid: No looking back

The 75th United Nations General Assembly held last month was unique. The media spectacle of leaders’ speeches gave way to resident diplomat introductions, pre-recorded video presentations, and videoconferences. For some, the unspectacular and even boring nature of the General Assembly’s high-

China’s vision of sovereignty for the next world order

President Xi Jinping grabbed headlines last month with the announcement that China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is aiming for carbon neutrality within 40 years. Xi’s speech, to the UN General Assembly, gave no details about how this would be achieved, beyond a

A diplomatic breakdown over “snapback” tests the UN

After the United States experienced a rebuff at the United Nations last week – with almost the entire membership of the Security Council rejecting its attempt to re-impose UN sanctions on Iran – US officials warned that the dispute could lead to a major crisis in the Council, damaging the

Diego Garcia: The US has a clear choice

Mauritius is the legitimate sovereign over the Chagos Archipelago, including the island of Diego Garcia, which hosts an important US military base in the Indo-Pacific region. The government of Mauritius has publicly announced its willingness to enter into an agreement that would preserve the base,

UN report on US killing of Iranian commander misses the mark

In the early hours of 3 January 2020, missiles fired from US drones killed ten people near Baghdad airport. Drone strikes by the US are almost commonplace these days, but what made this particular strike noteworthy was its target: General Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Quds Force, a unit of

The obstacles to Syrian aid

On Saturday last week, following weeks of lobbying by humanitarian agencies and difficult diplomatic negotiations, the UN Security Council renewed its authorisation for the UN and its partners to provide humanitarian assistance in north-western Syria from across the Turkish border. The final

International law takes a step towards Asia

As the historical development of international law has been dominated by European principles and doctrine, there is an argument that public international law has always been associated with a Western-centric view of the world. Moreover, major public international law judicial organs such

Finding compromise in the Chagos Islands saga

The Chagos Archipelago of 54 islands, formerly administered as a dependency of the British Colony of Mauritius, was excised from Mauritius by the UK in 1965, three years before independence. It was renamed the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), and its inhabitants (about 1500 people) were

The goals for Australia to do better

Although the idea is hard to bear, we now all know that Australia’s 2019–20 bushfire catastrophe and the Covid-19 crisis will not be one-off historical events. Public health experts have long warned zoonotic disease pandemics will be on the rise due to global warming and ecological, behavioural

Woe Canada, a second consecutive UN rebuff

Last week, the United Nations elected five countries to the Security Council for two years from 1 January 2021: India from the Asia group, elected by an impressive 184 votes of 193 cast; Mexico from Latin America and the Caribbean; Kenya from Africa; and Ireland and Norway from the West Europe and

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