The European Union, most often preoccupied with its economic problems over the past few years, grappled with two strategic challenges last week. The first involved a tug-of-war with Russia over Ukraine. The second centered on Geneva, where the union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, chaired talks on Iran’s nuclear program.
The United States and Iran, having clinched a landmark interim deal suspending some aspects of Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, turned their attention this week to addressing the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
The United Nations Security Council has received the first report from chemical weapons inspectors inside Syria. The report details the country's cooperation with the initial effort to destroy its capacity to manufacture the weapons but despite progress on that front, the humanitarian crisis there shows no sign of improvement.
In diplomacy, it is easier to pull off a stunt than sustain a long-term strategy. Last week Saudi Arabia managed some multilateral acrobatics at the United Nations by winning a seat on the Security Council unopposed and then almost immediately renouncing it.
Saudi Arabia refused to accept the membership of the United Nations Security Council it won yesterday, citing issues including Syria’s civil war that it said show the world body is incapable of resolving conflicts.
Saudi Arabia took the extraordinary step Friday of refusing to take its seat on the U.N. Security Council -- despite pursuing the position for years. It's an unprecedented protest over the council's failure to take firmer action in Syria and Palestine. And it comes at a time of growing Saudi frustration with American-led policies across the Middle East.
Five countries have won two-year terms on the U.N. Security Council, including two potentially controversial countries. Chad has faced U.N. scrutiny for its use of child soldiers among the ranks of its military, while Saudi Arabia regularly faces international criticism for the state of human rights, and especially women’s rights, in the oil-rich kingdom.
Chosen as one of the most influential women in the world by Time magazine, Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. undergoes a baptism by fire as she confronts the difficulties of Syrian diplomacy.
Providing humanitarian assistance amid conflict has always been a dangerous and difficult endevour; however, over the last decade aid worker casualties tripled, reaching over 100 deaths per year. From 2005 onwards the largest numbers of violent attacks on humanitarian personnel have been concentrated in a small number of countries representing the most difficult and volatile operating environments. Attacks in some of these settings have also grown more lethal and sophisticated and the number of kidnappings has risen dramatically.
The Annual Review of Global Peace Operations and the Review of Political Missions have evolved into the Global Peace Operations Review, an interactive web-portal presenting in-depth analysis and detailed data on military peacekeeping operations and civilian-led political missions by the United Nations, regional organizations, and ad-hoc coalitions. The website can be accessed here Global Peace Operations Review