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 […]

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 […]

Across the world, populism has become a prominent feature of the political landscape. This report provides a comprehensive look at the rise of populism and its implications for liberal democracies. Download your FREE copy of The Global Rise of Populism today. In Europe, an anti-immigrant backlash against the 2015 migrant crisis helped fuel the rise of far-right, nationalist parties whose leaders often adopt a populist style. The Brexit referendum in 2016 appeared to be the highwater mark of the populist wave, but in Eastern and Southern Europe, and even in Scandinavia, populist parties continue to either govern or enjoy widespread […]

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 […]

An image provided by the U.S. government shows the damage to Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing facility in eastern Saudi Arabia, Sept. 15, 2019 (U.S. government/Digital Globe via AP).

Kelly Knight Craft, America’s new ambassador to the United Nations, is about to have a tough week at work. With the crisis escalating over Saturday’s airstrikes on an oil processing facility and nearby oil field in Saudi Arabia, there’s no telling how things will go between now and the kick-off of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 24. There is little doubt though that Craft will play a leading role as the U.S. and Saudi Arabia seek to make a case for the U.N. Security Council to take strong action against Iran, which Washington and Riyadh have […]

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, center, participates in a demonstration in front of the United Nations, in New York, Aug. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

In September 2015, the member states of the United Nations unanimously endorsed a blueprint to guide global development efforts through 2030, known as the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. Next week, world leaders will evaluate progress on the guidelines, together known as the “2030 Agenda,” when they convene in New York for the annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly. Their assessment will be bleak. No country is on track to achieve all of the SDGs, and the United States, a traditional leader on global development, has abdicated this role under President Donald Trump. Those seeking inspiration will need to […]

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, watches the test firing of a missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea, Aug. 24, 2019 (Korea Central News Agency photo via AP Images).

As a United Nations report revealed earlier this month, North Korea continues to dodge international sanctions and raise money for its nuclear weapons program, despite attempts to bar it from the global financial system. The report from the panel of experts charged by the U.N. Security Council with overseeing enforcement of U.N. sanctions on North Korea conclusively shows how Pyongyang capitalizes on an old method of sanctions-busting—smuggling—and a much newer one: hacking. In both cases, its tactics are getting more innovative. When it comes to smuggling, North Korea’s use of ship-to-ship transfers continues to circumvent sanctions “unabated,” including through previously […]

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 […]