Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks via remote feed during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, April 5, 2022 (AP Photo/John Minchillo).

How should one think about the future of the global order and international organizations against the backdrop of Russia’s war on Ukraine? The war has highlighted the limitations of multilateral security institutions at both the global and European levels, as Moscow has blocked or ignored calls from the United Nations and other bodies to cease the hostilities. While some observers believe these organizations are as a result doomed to irrelevance, others have argued that the crisis creates an opportunity to revitalize them. There has been a lot of talk, for example, of changes to the U.N. Charter to stop Russia from using […]

Delegates listen as Malala Yousafzai, not seen, addresses the ‘Malala Day’ Youth Assembly at United Nations headquarters, July 12, 2013 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

Young people have been demanding better representation at the United Nations for many decades, but in the past couple of years, world leaders have seemed to catch on. In 2020, to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, all 193 of the world body’s member states came together to release a declaration committing to “listen to and work with youth.” Since then, it has been near impossible to go to a U.N. meeting aimed at young people without hearing phrases like “intergenerational cooperation” or “intergenerational solidarity.” This is no doubt a step in the right direction. In a 2021 manifesto titled […]

A firefighter monitors the Caldor Fire burning near structures in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Aug. 30, 2021 (AP photo by Jae C. Hong).

For decades, market fundamentalists pitted capitalism against environmentalism, as if the global economy could be insulated from shocks to the health and stability of the biosphere. At last, those days are ending, and economists and corporate leaders are recognizing the costs of running down Earth’s natural capital. Last week, the nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs announced that in 2021 alone, “climate change-related natural disasters inflicted nearly $150 billion in damage to America’s economy.” The U.S. plight is part of a broader pattern. On April 26, the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction, or UNDRR, declared that the world as […]

Girls from poor localities wait their turn to show school work to teacher, at a makeshift school in a city park in Islamabad, Pakistan, Nov. 13, 2018 (AP photo by B.K. Bangash).

The Transforming Education Summit is fast approaching. Many in the education community and at the United Nations, as well as impassioned young activists around the world, have begun to mobilize for the event, which is scheduled to coincide with the U.N. General Assembly in September. And according to the world body’s deputy secretary-general, Amina Mohammed, the summit aims at nothing less than “averting a generational disaster” by “rethinking education systems.” However, little attention is being paid to this summit outside of those circles. In many ways, this isn’t surprising: Conferences and summits are an almost daily fixture on the international calendar, and […]

A Russian soldier looks through a binocular during drills in the Rostov region in southern Russia, Dec. 14, 2021 (AP photo).

International security is inherently a secretive business. Governments and militaries like to hide their capabilities and plans from their rivals. Yet in the post-Cold War years, states began to become more transparent about their military postures, aiming to create a new sense of international cooperation and openness. This process has now gone into reverse, with post-Cold War transparency arrangements in sharp decline. With the war in Ukraine signaling a new era of great power conflict and mistrust, can international organizations like the United Nations do anything to maintain some transparency over security affairs between states? The idea that multilateral bodies […]

Demining experts search for mines in Kohsan district of Herat province, northwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, April 3, 2010 (AP photo by Reza Shirmohammadi).

On the morning of April 1, seven children were playing in the lush wheat fields of Afghanistan’s Marjah district, in the southern Helmand province, by tossing around a metal object. Moments later, it exploded. The blast claimed five of their lives, including the youngest in the group, a 5-year-old boy. “My daughter has not only lost her three sons, but also her senses,” Haji Abdul Salam, a 55-year-old farmer who lost two children and three grandchildren in the explosion, tells me at his home while attending to visitors there for the funeral. “She neither sleeps nor eats.” But Salam is […]

A sign at a rally for Ukraine at the White House shows Russian President Vladimir Putin in prison and calls for him to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (NurPhoto by Allison Bailey via AP).

Terrible stories are emerging from Ukraine about the mass rape of civilian women by Russian soldiers. Among the most notorious reports is one involving a group of teenage girls who were held captive in a basement in Bucha. Nine of them are now pregnant after multiple gang rapes. According to Ukraine’s ombudsman for human rights, Lyudmyla Denisova, “Russian soldiers told [the victims] they would rape them to the point where they wouldn’t want sexual contact with any man, to prevent them from having Ukrainian children.” Currently, these are reports from officials of a nation at war, and must therefore be verified by independent […]

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres waves to the crowds upon arrival in Maiduguri, Nigeria, May 3, 2022 (AP photo by Chinedu Asadu).

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio visited Dakar, Senegal, this week as part of his first trip to the African continent since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The ongoing impacts of the pandemic, including its multiplier effect on public health, economics, conflict, climate action and political stability, have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and the collective response to that conflict, a major theme of Guterres’ visit to West Africa. During his three-nation tour to Senegal, Niger and Nigeria, which began last weekend and ended Wednesday, Guterres called on rich countries to increase their investment in African countries, at a time […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, attend a news conference after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, April 28, 2022 (AP photo by Efrem Lukatsky).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its conduct in the course of the war presents a serious threat not only to the Ukrainian state and its population, but to the humanitarian principles and restraints that are the bedrock of the modern international system. There are serious risks that Russia’s war will weaken international institutions and norms in ways that reduce their ability to maintain peace, prevent civilian harm and deal with collective challenges around peace and security going forward. However, this need not be so. It is still possible for the international system to come out of this crisis not only intact, […]