The first time I heard the German word “zwangsoptimist” was in a meeting to discuss ways to improve how the international system functions. Meaning “someone who feels compelled to be an optimist,” the word not only succinctly sums up my work for and alongside the U.N. over the past 27 years, but could also be a one-word job description for the organization’s next secretary-general.

Mar 28, 2016
Jim Della-Giacoma
Europe, Middle East, Syria, South Asia
United Nations

Barack Obama’s foreign policy reflects a moral duality that has befuddled friends and enemies alike

Mar 14, 2016
WPS Sidhu
Middle East, Libya, Syria, United States

The Afghan militant group that sheltered Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks is closing the door to the Islamic State.

The Taliban is giving up on holding talks with the group and will prevent it from gaining a foothold in Afghanistan, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said by e-mail. He accused the media and intelligence agencies of inflating the Islamic State’s strength.

Feb 03, 2016
Barnett Rubin

Last week had no shortage of shocking images to illustrate our collective paralysis in the face of the Mediterranean refugee crisis. A three year old boy dead on a beach, waves lapping around his shoes. Thousands of forcibly displaced people marching through the heart of Europe watched by silent onlookers. Borders going back up in Schengen under the guise of traffic control and migrant searches.

Sep 08, 2015
Sarah Cliffe
Europe, Middle East, Syria

Unless the Syrian refugee emergency is treated as a truly global responsibility, we can't expect hard-pressed countries to maintain the generosity they have demonstrated since the crisis erupted.

Read the full Open Democracy article Syria’s refugees: a global responsibility

Jun 29, 2015
Richard Gowan
Middle East, Syria

Last week, the United Nations was thrust back into the center of international crisis management in the Arab world. 

May 11, 2015
Richard Gowan
Middle East, Syria

The UN embarked this week on a renewed bid to negotiate a political transition in Syria.

May 06, 2015
Richard Gowan
Middle East, Syria

Last week’s top-level session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York offered three basic lessons. The first is that the United States can still dominate the U.N. when it wants to. The second is that a clear majority of other countries’ leaders are quite relieved to follow an American lead. But the third is that the U.N. is only really still relevant in two—admittedly sensitive—regions: Africa and the Middle East.

Sep 29, 2014
Richard Gowan
United Nations

During his speech at the opening session of the UN General Assembly as well as when advocating for the binding resolution on foreign fighters, US President Barack Obama shifted some attention from the short-term threat posed by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) to the longer-term goals of attacking extremist ideology at its source.

Read the full Asia News Network article US making strategic use of UN to build case

Sep 26, 2014
Richard Gowan
United Nations

MUNPlanet brings you a special interview with Richard Gowan on the occasion of the Sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Sep 26, 2014
Richard Gowan
United Nations

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