Since the summer of 2013, the terrorist organization Da’esh/Islamic State (IS) has controlled vast regions of Syria and Iraq and has terrorized the local population, whose situation has continued to deteriorate dramatically. As a result, countless people are fleeing from armed conflicts in their homeland, violence, destruction and hunger. Aside from the human toll, IS is responsible for the blowing-up of ancient ruins, such as the three famous burial towers at the ancient Syrian oasis city of Palmyra. In issue 1/2016 of Vereinte Nationen, Sabine von Schorlemer demonstrates the extent to which the targeted destruction of cultural heritage has developed into a subject of UN security policy and explores the question of how it can be possible to make the international legal order more robust in the face of wanton violations.
Other contributions in the issue: Helmut Volger traces the historical and recent developments of the UN Secretary General’s electoral process; Cordula Meyer Mahnkopf reappraises Myanmar’s relationship to the United Nations since its membership began in 1948. Basing his work on concrete case studies, Martin Pabst describes how the United Nations was involved in the de-colonization process; Oliver Hasenkamp analyzes how developing pacific island nations, through strategies and alliances, obtained a hearing on the topic of climate change.
The Internet is changing the world, but the regulation of cyberspace is still in its beginning. The United Nations must find answers to new threats in the digital age. However, the harmonization of national legal systems and a UN convention on cyberspace are still awaited. Against the background of increasing security threats through cyber attacks, issue 2/2016 of Vereinte Nationen is dedicated to the topic of cyberspace and the United Nations. Tim Maurer traces the development of the debate regarding the theme of cyber security at the United Nations. He analyzes the recent negotiations at the United Nations and focuses on prospective challenges. In his view, this includes the ever-widening gap between diplomatic achievements and the continuingly deteriorating security situation.
In other contributions, Tatiana Tropina and Nicolas von zur Mühlen concentrate on the fight against cyber criminality, Wolfgang Kleinwächter puts the ecosystem of Internet governance into focus, Anja Mihr pleads for a better protection of human rights on the Internet, and Markus Wagner analyzes the international legal framework for the use of autonomous weapons systems. Thomas Fitschen, Representative in the Foreign Ministry for the United Nations, Cyber Foreign Policy and Terrorism, answers the “Three Questions…” about cyber foreign policy.
Project-bound and limited initiatives are increasing at the United Nations. Careers are becoming more multifaceted and unpredictable. Nevertheless, the attractiveness of employment at the world organization is still unchanged; however, women are still underrepresented in leadership positions at the United Nations. Accordingly, in her contribution to issue 3/2016 of the journal Vereinte Nationen, Angela Kane demands the promotion of equality in management and leadership positions in the UN system. Even in the year 2016 we are still very far from the 50 percent target quota.
In other contributions, Viviane Brunne presents The Association of German International Civil Servants (VDBIO) and Ian Williams reminds us of the need for reform in the UN justice system in regard to personnel disputes and institutional misconduct. Wolfgang Heinz and Nico Schrijver examine important instruments of international human rights protection, notably the Human Rights Council as well as the first two human rights covenants (ICCP and ICESCR), which celebrate their anniversary this year. In his Comment, Ekkehard Griep outlines the potential for a “House for the United Nations” in Berlin. The “Three Questions to…” are answered by Ralf Südhoff, head of the UN World Food Programme in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, and German Switzerland.
At the end of May 2016, the leaders of states and governments, humanitarian and civil society actors, as well as leaders in private enterprise, came together for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit. In Issue 4/2016 of VEREINTE NATIONEN, Annett Günther traces the summit from its preparation process to its outcome. Under the slogan “Responses to the World Humanitarian Summit”, representatives from Doctors without Borders, the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Global Public Policy Institute assessed the results of the summit. The Federal Government’s Representative for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid Bärbel Kofler welcomes the acknowledgement of humanitarian and human rights principles as a requirement of humanitarian aid. In other contributions, Frank Baumann, among others, comments in an interview on the management deficits and need for reform in the UN Secretariat. Alexander Betts discusses the prospects for success of the “Summit for Refugees and Migrants” in New York in September 2016. Harald Ganns takes stock of the development of the UN location in Bonn. Harald Braun, the Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, answers the „Three Questions“.
Whether it is Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, South Sudan, or the Central African Republic – asymmetrical conflict, violence against civilians, and terrorist activities influence the United Nations’ commitments in Africa. Issue 5/2016 of VEREINTE NATIONEN devotes itself to these issues and other challenges of UN Peacekeeping on the continent.
In their contribution, Annika S. Hansen and Tobias von Gienanth illuminate the difficult missions, as well as the success stories. In her Comment, Dagmar Dehmer discusses the handling of accusations of sexual abuse against UN Blue Helmets. Daniel Maier introduces the so-called “Capstone” Doctrine and the integrated planning approach as the essential instruments of planning and evaluation of UN missions.
Denis M. Tull inquires about the usefulness of MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and sees the reform of the security sector as a necessity of success. MINURSO in Western Sahara is heading towards crisis, according to Martin Pabst. Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, answers the „Three Questions...“. Alexandra Steinebach takes stock of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its passing.
The conflict in Syria is developing into a humanitarian catastrophe. A solution to the ongoing, six-year-long civil war seems nowhere in sight. In an interview in Issue 6/2016 of Vereinte Nationen, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura takes a position on the persistent violence in Syria and the chances of a political solution.
Since the turn of the new millennium, there is an observable process of convergence between the UN and private industry. Romy Klimke, Lina Lorenzoni Escobar and Christian Tietje put forward the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, measure their success, and take on the perspective of legally-binding instruments. The question of whether or not businesses should take a larger part in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals is addressed differently by Oliver Wieck and Jens Martens. Klaus Leisinger explains the philosophy underlying the Global Covenant and discusses where the Pact needs to be further developed. Cornelia Heydenreich pursues the process of creating a so-called 'National Action Plans for Business and Human Rights'. According to Wade Hoxtell, UN partnerships with businesses are at a crossroads.
Anna Cavazzini, with the example of the presidency of the President of the 70th General Assembly, examines how the role of the President of the General Assembly has transformed.