U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the Climate Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Jason DeCrow).

Two big questions about the future of multilateralism surfaced during last week’s United Nations General Assembly. How will the battle against climate change reshape international cooperation in the decades ahead? And will mounting competition between China and the United States render any cooperation impossible? The climate issue dominated the run-up to this General Assembly. Responding to dire warnings about global warming, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres insisted that it must be front and center in New York. He oversaw a masterful bout of diplomatic choreography, as the U.N. welcomed young, superstar activist Greta Thunberg to address a special Climate Action Summit, pushing […]

A replica of planet Earth set ablaze during a worldwide protest demanding action on climate change, in Milan, Italy, Sept. 27, 2019 (ANSA photo by Nicola Marfisi via AP images).

Despite unfolding ecological catastrophes around the world, negotiations on a potentially groundbreaking Global Pact for the Environment have faltered. Its many champions had hoped for a binding multilateral treaty that would place all international environmental law within a coherent legal framework, as well as establish access to a healthy environment as a fundamental human right. In the end, U.N. member states meeting in Nairobi in May could only agree on a watered-down goal: a “political declaration” to be prepared by 2022, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the historic 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Beyond establishing the […]

Prime Minister Saad Hariri and other Lebanese officials attend a rally to mark the 14th anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Beirut, Feb. 14, 2019 (DPA photo by Marwan Naamani via AP Images).

The international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of then-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri unveiled a new indictment last week further implicating Hezbollah in the destabilization of Lebanon in the mid-2000s. On Sept. 15, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a United Nations-backed court based in The Hague, charged Hezbollah member Salim Jamil Ayyash for two assassination attempts on former ministers, Marwan Hamadeh and Elias Murr, in 2004 and 2005, respectively, and the killing of former Lebanese Communist Party leader George Hawi in a car bombing in 2005. Ayyash is one of four Hezbollah members already charged by the tribunal in 2011 for […]

President Donald Trump seated before addressing the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, in New York, Sept. 25, 2018 (Photo by Anthony Behar for Sipa via AP Images).

When President Donald Trump takes to the United Nations podium Tuesday morning for his third annual address to the General Assembly, his audience may wonder why he bothered to come. By now, little mystery remains about his “America First” worldview. Foreigners are familiar with his commitment to nationalism, skepticism of treaties, affinity for strongmen, passion for walls, fear of immigrants, antipathy toward refugees, attachment to protectionism and denial of climate change. In sum, he rejects the very purposes and priorities of the United Nations. Those who still believe in multilateral cooperation are likely to endure Trump’s speech much as they […]

A ranger reaches out toward a female northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya, Aug. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known as CITES, held their 18th conference last month in Geneva. Many conservation advocates welcomed the results of the meeting, which established new protections for a variety of species, from giraffes to sea cucumbers. In a phone interview with WPR, Tanya Sanerib, the international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, discusses the many positive outcomes from this year’s CITES meeting and the hard work that remains to prevent more species from going extinct. The following transcript has been lightly edited […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron exchange contracts alongside their respective foreign minsters, in Aachen, Germany, Jan. 22, 2019 (AP photo by Martin Meissner).

Since 1945, America’s democratic allies around the world have relied on the United States to champion and defend an open, rules-based international system, grounded in liberal values and multilateralism. Since January 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump has repudiated this role and turned the United States into a revisionist power, mimicking China and Russia in efforts to reconfigure important aspects of the global order. In a desperate attempt to hold the line, France and Germany will officially launch an “Alliance for Multilateralism” at the opening of the 74th United Nations General Assembly later this month. The architects of this new alliance […]