John Ruggie when he was special representative for economy and human rights of the U.N. secretary-general, Berlin, Germany, June 20, 2007 (DPA photo by Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert via AP Images).

On Sept. 16, on the eve of the opening of this year’s United Nations General Assembly, John Ruggie passed away. A giant in the study and practice of world politics, Ruggie’s writings left a lasting impression on a generation of colleagues and students, and his contributions to multilateral cooperation as a U.N. official will reverberate for many more. In a half-century career straddling academia and policymaking, Ruggie enriched our collective understanding of the normative sinews of world order and the endless possibilities of international cooperation.  It is rare for academics to have a direct policy impact, but Ruggie certainly did. […]

Myanmar nationals living in Thailand protest against the military coup in front of the United Nations building in Bangkok, Thailand, March 7, 2021 (AP photo by Nava Sangthong).

In the run-up to this year’s high-level meetings of the United Nations General Assembly, there were almost too many issues to address: a global pandemic, climate change, renewed and continuing conflicts and great power competition, to name a few. But when it came to the crisis in Myanmar, attention focused on a single question: Who should represent the country in New York? The answer would determine how much the international community can do to help Myanmar, a country now teetering on the edge of civil war, in the months ahead. The turmoil began on Feb. 1, when Myanmar’s military, known […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping conducts a press conference at the Belt and Road Forum, at Yanqi Lake on the outskirts of Beijing, April 27, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

The prevailing foreign assistance architecture of today’s world, which prioritizes transparency, inclusion and accountability, was developed and codified in a unipolar system—with significant U.S. leadership and influence. Since the end of the Cold War, Western donors have supported this framework, further developing and codifying it in the Millennium Development Goals of 2000; the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness; the 2008 Accra Agenda, which built on the Paris Declaration; and the 2011 Busan Agreement to standardize good development practice, norms and standards. This architecture is now coming under pressure, largely due to China’s growing interest in and influence over today’s […]

Turkish security forces apprehend a group of migrants in an operation aimed at stemming the recent influx of migration, in Van, Turkey, Aug. 21, 2021 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

In July, British Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that the U.K. had agreed to pay France roughly $72 million to fund border personnel and equipment that would be used to stop asylum-seekers from crossing the English Channel. The deal came amid a dramatic rise in the number of channel crossings. In the first half of 2021, more than 8,000 asylum-seekers completed the voyage to land on England’s southern shore. The deal with France was controversial, including within Patel’s own Conservative Party. Noting that this was the second such payment to France in the past year, Tim Loughton, a leading Conservative […]

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at a news conference in Moscow, Russia, May 12, 2021 (AP pool photo by Maxim Shemetov).

Last September, the United Nations marked its 75th anniversary in somber style, against the backdrop of a once-in-a-century pandemic, a deepening climate crisis, geopolitical tensions and antipathy from its most powerful member. A year on, the United States has returned—for the most part—to the multilateral fold. Otherwise, much remains the same. COVID-19 continues its rampage; global warming and biodiversity loss proceed apace; and great power competition stymies international cooperation. Into this maelstrom steps U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. As world leaders gather in person and virtually for this week’s annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly, Guterres will seek their support […]

A militiaman loyal to Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, stands guard in Panjshir province, Afghanistan, Aug. 26, 2021 (AP photo by Jalaluddin Sekandar).

After a military retreat by Afghanistan’s National Resistance Front last week in the Panjshir Valley, the group’s head of foreign relations, Ali Nazary, appeared in Washington last Friday to vow that it would continue holding out against the Taliban and to seek military assistance for doing so. Yesterday, The New York Times reported that the NRF has hired lobbyist Robert Stryk to seek military and financial support for their ongoing fight against the Taliban.  The NRF has made similar entreaties to the U.K. and France, as well as other countries closer to Afghanistan. They are one of only several militant groups with the potential to muster an […]

President Joe Biden delivers an address in the State Dining Room at the White House, Sept. 9, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

President Joe Biden’s administration has come under heavy criticism, both domestically and from overseas, over the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan by American and NATO forces. Since Kabul fell to the Taliban on Aug. 15, Biden’s approval rating has dipped nearly five points, to 45 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight’s weighted average of opinion polls. And Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, bluntly criticized the U.S. earlier this week for making “very few—if any—consultations with their European partners” regarding plans for the exit from Afghanistan. The fallout from this crisis will follow Biden to United Nations headquarters in New York later […]

U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

The 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly will kick off next week in New York, and over the course of the following week, the assembly will host speeches from leaders and representatives of U.N. member states. The highlight will be U.S. President Joe Biden’s first address to the U.N. since taking office in January, but as with previous years’ diplomatic confabs, there will be plenty of developments to keep an eye on. This week on Trend Lines, Richard Gowan, the U.N. director at the International Crisis Group and a former WPR columnist, joins Elliot Waldman to preview Biden’s […]

A protester from the Uyghur community living in Turkey holds a placard during a protest in Istanbul, March 25, 2021 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

There is extensive evidence that the Chinese government is violating the human rights of ethnic Uyghurs, and that these violations include crimes against humanity and genocide. Satellite imagery, testimonials, demographic data and photographs substantiate the extensive allegations against China, which include the use of mass surveillance technologies throughout Xinjiang province, the arbitrary detention of more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, the torture and inhumane treatment of detainees, the separation of children from their parents, systematic sterilization, rape, forced labor and organ harvesting. While survivors, relatives and diaspora communities have long sought to draw attention to the systematic […]

Moroccan U.N. peacekeepers patrol Bangassou, Central African Republic, Feb. 14, 2021 (AP photo by Adrienne Surprenant).

Two weeks ago, in the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, I argued that a United Nations peacekeeping mission should be considered as part of, or complementary to, a strengthened mandate for the U.N.’s existing political mission in the country, UNAMA. Since then, a group of over 20 scholars has been working with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s Human Security Lab to game out scenarios, consolidate the supporting evidence and make some research-backed guesses about whether peacekeeping should be on the table in Afghanistan today. The emerging consensus in this group is that there are reasons to think it should, based on peacekeeping’s record of success […]