Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine – these are just a few of the hotspots, which are currently keeping the world in suspense. In none of these bloody conflicts does it seem that the United Nations is significantly playing the role of a peacemaker. Thorsten Benner addresses the question of the United Nation’s diplomatic crisis in his article entitled “Helpless and Irrelevant?” in issue no. 1/2015 of VEREINTE NATIONEN. He identifies both systemic and also external factors, that explain the global organization’s limited capacity to act in diplomatic crises, and makes recommendations for improvement. In other contributions, Füsun Türkmen answers the question of why the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was applied in Libya but not in Syria, Devin Joshi and Roni Kay O’Dell examine the world-wide effect of the “Human Development Report,” and Ingvild Bode lists the factors that contribute to the idea that UN developed ideas lead to political change. In light of the severe allegations of a UN inquiry as to the human rights situation in North Korea, the leader of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York, Ivan Šimonović, answers the “Three questions to…”
UN Police on Difficult Missions
Much has been discussed and written about the 'Blue Berets'; but since the 1990s, more and more police forces are being deployed in UN missions. The number lays currently around 12,500. But what do UN Police forces do? The issue “United Nations Police Work” of VEREINTE NATIONEN (2/2015) provides information about their tasks, how their field of work has changed over the past decades and what the UN does concerning the fight against transnational crime such as human trafficking, the smuggling of migrants, drug trafficking and weapons trafficking. It contains contributions from Philipp Rotmann about the UN Police, Steffen Eckard and Winfried Nachtwei about Germany’s attitude towards the UN Police and an interview with the Senior UN Police Adviser, Stefan Feller. Other contributions deal with the fight against organized crime and corruption as it relates to the international drug regime.
20 Years since Srebrenica: Responsibility and Lessons
In July 2015, the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica will be commemorated for the twentieth time. This is an occasion to ask how this genocide could happen, who was responsible, which lessons were learned and what, in hindsight, has been done for the victims and families. The recent issue 3/2015 of the journal Vereinte Nationen, “Srebrenica and its Consequences”, deals with these questions.
With regards to Srebrenica and the difficult beginnings of “new peacekeeping”, Norrie MacQueen sees the main reasons for the failure of UNPROFOR in negative experiences of failed peacekeeping operations, adherence to the traditional model of peacekeeping as well as unclear authority to issue instructions. Carla Del Ponte, former Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY, confirms this assessment in the “Three Questions” and warns that the situation in Syria could develop into a genocide.
While the major lessons learned from Srebrenica have helped facilitate robust mandates and the ‘Responsibility to Protect’, other problems that require improvement concern the quick access of the UN to equipment and troops. Ekkehard Griep suggests the revitalization of the “UN Standby Arrangements System” in his “Comment”. In another “Comment”, Katarina Lundahl proposes that the UN should, at the very least, set up a compensation commission regarding the cholera epidemic in Haiti.
In the last four years, the worldwide number of refugees and internally displaced persons has quadrupled – to the current record of roughly 60 million. Since ongoing crises like those in Syria and Iraq and other places have not been solved, more and more people are forced to leave their home countries. In an interview in the current Issue 4/2015 of the journal VEREINTE NATIONEN, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, speaks, among other things, about the reasons for the dramatic increase in the number of refugees, the shortage of resources and the urgent need for a unified European asylum and migration strategy. Guterres: “We don’t have the means to offer even the minimum protection and support that the people need anymore.”
In other contributions, Harald Müller addresses the failed Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May 2015, Michael Brzoska and Götz Neuneck comment on the successful nuclear agreement with Iran and Birgit Lode evaluates the prospects for success of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.
To mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN on October 24th, the “Anniversary Issue” of the journal VEREINTE NATIONEN (Issue 5/2015) scrutinizes the successes and the mistakes of the global organization in an atypical way. Instead, authors will shine a light on interesting areas of research: Paul Heinbecker analyzes whether a competition between the UN and the G20 exists. Frank Kaltofen leads us back in time to the days of the founding and recounts the difficult policy debates – most of all those about veto power in the Security Council. Further contributions deal with the important role the UN played in decolonization and the development of international law, as well as the results of a review of UN Peacekeeping that has been recently carried out. In his comment, Green Party representative Tom Koenigs calls for further German engagement in the UN. The “Three questions for…” are this time answered by Patricia Flor, head of the UN department in the Federal Foreign Office.
In 2015, the deadline for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ended. Have the eight goals been met? In Issue 6/2015 of VEREINTE NATIONEN, Gabriele Köhler made an effort to assess the results of the MDGs, which, as she expected, have been mixed. Many important objectives have not been reached, some only through whitewashing. Nevertheless the MDGs have been important; they have breathed new life into development aid initiatives.
Other contributions give insight into the newly adopted goals for sustainable development (Jens Martens and Marianne Beisheim) and assess the improvements for women 20 years after the World Conference on Women in Beijing (Karin Nordmeyer) and 15 years after the adoption of Resolution 1325 “Women, Peace and Security” (Simone Wisotzki).
The speech by former President Horst Köhler commemorating 70th anniversary of the UN is also printed in abbreviated form.