Like beauty, the value of the United Nations lies in the eye of the beholder. Case in point, David Rothkopf’s recent screed on ForeignPolicy.com against the world’s largest multilateral organization, the latest in a long line of vitriolic — and largely misinformed — attacks on the institution. Only a few years ago, John Bolton, at the time the U.S. ambassador to the body, declared that lopping 10 floors off the secretariat would make little difference in its operation. Superfluous or not, those 10 floors managed to survive Bolton’s U.N. tenure largely unscathed. Although Rothkopf’s rant, too, will likely dissolve away […]

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Barack Obama’s election as U.S. president last November signaled a defeat not only for his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, but also for the outgoing Bush administration’s strongest hemispheric ally, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe. When George W. Bush left office, Uribe lost his strongest ally for the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, whose ratification is one of Uribe’s key foreign policy goals. Uribe will now travel to Washington next Monday, June 29, to try to wrench a firm commitment from President Obama to push the deal through a hostile Congress. But Colombia’s continued human rights violations and an […]

MONROVIA, Liberia — Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), modeled after South Africa’s approach to moving beyond the violence and repression of apartheid, moved into its final stages last week. At a final conference on the outskirts of Monrovia, 400 representatives from around the country and the Liberian diaspora met to discuss findings from the thousands of hearings conducted so far, and to determine the path ahead. That, many agree, will not be an easy task. The commission was established in 2005 to address the legacy of the civil war that ravaged the country from 1989 to 2003. The roots […]

Indonesian workers at Duta Text sarong factory in Pekalongan, Indonesia, March 12, 2018 (Photo by Dadang Trimulyanto for Sipa via AP Images).

As we approach the 15th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, better known as the 1995 Beijing Conference, gender-equality advocates around the world are taking stock to assess what should come next. An honest reckoning that recognizes accomplishments, challenges and opportunities suggests that while progress has been made at policy levels, difficulties persist in translating policy into practice. Nevertheless, resources at the implementation level, if recognized, offer opportunities for gender equality to contribute not only to the well-being of women and girls, but also to more effective social and economic development. A Pervasive & Persistent Challenge: Defining Gender […]

As we watch the dramatic events unfold in Iran, it is useful to reassess the merits of Iranian elections. Critics of the Islamic regime often dismiss presidential, parliamentarian (Majlis) and municipal elections as a manipulative sham used by a malevolent regime to flaunt its supposed legitimacy to the outside world. They may point to the current crisis as proof of their claim. Obviously, elections alone in the Islamic Republic of Iran do not make the country an ideal and transparent democracy. They do, however, provide for two unintended, yet noteworthy, outcomes that are rarely reflected upon in the West. First, […]

TEHRAN, Iran — Tehran has been the site of massive street protests on a scale unseensince the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Tens, and sometimes hundreds, ofthousands have defied government bans, live gunfire, tear gas and massarrests to protest against the election results and the government itself. The following are photos taken atopposition demonstrations in the aftermath of the contested electionresults. (George McLeod’s WPR Briefing on the escalating government crackdown on the protests can be found here.) Protesters with a picture of defeated reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi (George McLeod). The June 16 opposition protest demonstration snakes its way towards […]

Winning American wars these days is four parts politics and just one part fighting. Contemporary military doctrine — counterinsurgency and stability operations — tasks soldiers, on the whole, with state-building. Victory, or at least success, means building from the bottom up, rather than destroying from the top down. But because conditions on the ground are so delicate, for the one part of warfare that remains fighting, there’s no room for error. With Gen. Stanley McChrystal taking charge of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan on Monday, warfighting is on everyone’s minds. McChrystal has been appointed to command the Afghanistan war […]

In Iran, hundreds of thousands of citizens are bravely defying state laws barring protest, with reports emerging of students and demonstrators being beaten and even shot. President Barack Obama has muted his response so far, taking note of the violence, while taking pains not to feed historical Iranian perceptions of U.S. meddling. Some have criticized him for not taking a stronger stand, echoing widespread charges that Obama downplays human rights more generally in his foreign policy approach. The critics are right: Obama has prioritized stability and the shoring up of U.S. power over the vocal advocacy of human rights. But […]

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On Sunday, gunmen ambushed two of Somalia’s most respected journalists, while the two men were walking in Mogadishu’s Bakara market. Muktar Mohamed Hirabe, long-time director of Shabelle Radio, was killed; his companion Ahmed Omar Hashi, a senior producer for Shabelle, was wounded in the hand and stomach. On Monday, World Politics Review spoke to Hashi by phone, from his Mogadishu hospital. He said he didn’t know who was behind the attacks, or what their motive might have been. In recent years Somalia’s media has been targeted by all of the country’s warring parties, including criminal gangs, Islamic extremists from the […]

President Barack Obama’s historic address to the Muslim world in Cairo tomorrow offers a prime opportunity to outline a new U.S. vision for democracy and human rights in the region. To accomplish this goal, Obama must firmly reject the notion that safeguarding America’s strategic interests in the Middle East somehow runs counter to the goal of advancing political reform. Instead he must craft a balanced message that recognizes that reform is synonymous with U.S. interests in the region. Unfortunately, if early signs are any indication, the president seems to be striking the wrong balance. The delayed appointments of key democracy […]