International Press Syndicate

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Photo: António Guterres taking the oath of office as UN Secretary-General and delivering remarks to the General Assembly. UN Photo/ Eskinder Debebe

By Sebastian von Einsiedel and Cale Salih*

With the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States on 20 January 2017, the United Nations is headed toward a new and potentially challenging relationship with its largest funder. This article refers to four areas that may be especially affected by the change of guards in Washington DC – Security Council dynamics; funding; climate change; and human rights – and makes concrete recommendations for the new Secretary-General António Guterres on how he can best protect the UN from "beginners’ mistakes all around" in the new U.S. Administration.

Photo: An optimist and a pessimist, Vladimir Makovsky, 1893. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - What you see depends on where you sit. There are the pessimists who see President-elect Donald Trump who said in his tweet about the need to engage in a new arms race. There are the optimists, sitting on the other side of the room, who believe the kind words uttered by President Vladimir Putin and Trump to each other mean that there well could be a new agreement on reducing their nuclear armories. 2017 will be a lot better than 2016.

When I wrote my history of Amnesty International (“Like Water on Stone”, Penguin, 2002) I was struck both by the staff and activists how positive they were, despite dealing with some of the worst horrors in the world.

Photo: Kaaba at the heart of Mecca. As the night goes on pilgrims visiting the Holy House. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - An abiding fear for Donald Trump is that the Middle East dictators' successors in power will be militant Islamists who once elected will stop at nothing. At one time in the presidential campaign he threatened to “nuke” them. Even though the secular-minded President Bashar al-Assad appears to be winning the civil war in Syria the Islamists will sit on his tail.

Violent-inclined Islamists point to the Koran and the Hadith to justify their violence. Indeed, there are sentences in both that are close to their interpretation. Even though they may hype up these passages and ignore other more peaceful ones the truth is that Islam does have a tradition of the hard school. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of Muslims today don’t subscribe to it.

Photo: An antiwar demonstration in Tokyo, Japan on September 18, 2015. LittleGray T / Flickr

By Rory Fanning

The writer is a former US Army Ranger who is now a member of Veterans For Peace (VFP) and an activist. He and Mike Hanes, former US Marine and VFP activist, both recently completed a speaking tour in Japan. Titled 'The Antiwar Tour', this article first appeared in the quarterly magazine Jacobin, and is being published by arrangement with VFP.

CHICAGO (IDN) - A vibrant antiwar movement is blooming in Japan right now. Trade unions, civic groups, and an overwhelming number of young people are galvanizing the country around Article 9 of the Japanese constitution – the article that has kept Japan out of war for the last seventy years.

Image: There is no Planet B. Credit: The Nature Generation.

Viewpoint by Franz Baumann*

Note: This is a slightly abridged version of Franz Baumann's Keynote Address at the Bonn International Model UN titled 'Transformation in the midst of Crisis: New approaches in a changing International System' on November 30. Bonn, the former capital of West Germany, hosts 19 UN organizations and secretariats in the UN Campus.

NEW YORK (IDN) - There has been a momentous transformation in the past seventy years since the end of WWII and the founding of the United Nations. The UN, to recall, was born out of the second cataclysmic catastrophe of the 20th century.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the opportunity was missed to organize peace: Japan invaded Manchuria, Italy invaded Abyssinia, Germany invaded Czechoslovakia, started WWII and carried out the genocide against the Jews.

Photo: President Pranab Mukherjee credit: Buddhist Channe

Viewpoint by Kooi F Lim*

KUALA LUMPUR (IDN) - The Nalanda University website introduces the institution as the University that is "inspired by and aspires to match the ancient Nalanda which was an undisputed seat of learning for 800 years till the twelfth century, CE".

But not all is well with the reincarnation of this famous ancient university.

On November 23, Nobel laureate Prof Amartya Sen resigned from the governing board. He was the inaugural chairman of the Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG), which governed the establishment of Nalanda University.

Then two days later, George Yeo, a former foreign minister of Singapore who replaced Amartya Sen as the chancellor in July 2015, abruptly resigned. He cited "interference" in the "autonomy" of the university by the Government of India (GOI) as his reason for relinquishing his post.

Photo: An early morning outside the Opera Tavern in Stockholm, with a gang of beggars waiting for delivery of the scraps from the previous day. Sweden, 1868. Credit: Y. Broling in Ny illustrerad tidning 1868. - Julius Ejdestam: De fattigas Sverige, Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - President-elect Donald Trump is about to make the American rich even richer with his plan to cut their taxes. A cause for shame. Nevertheless, the history of America is that poorer people have done better than is commonly thought over the last two centuries.

Today they have indoor plumbing, heating, electricity, smallpox and tuberculosis-free lives, adequate nutrition, much lower child and maternal mortality, doubled life expectancy, increasingly sophisticated medical attention, the availability of contraception, secondary level schooling for their children and a shot at university, buses, trains and bicycles, much less racial prejudice, longer retirement, a rising quality of the goods they buy, better working conditions and the vote.

Photo: UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka addressing a gathering in Mumbai. Credit: UN Women.

MUMBAI (IDN | UN Women) - Unveiling a new partnership, UN Women and the IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IMC) organized (on December 6) a high-level event to underline the critical link between women’s economic empowerment and ending violence against women, and the need for urgent and adequate investment in the twin themes.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on a visit to India was the Chief Guest at the conference titled “WeUNiTE: Investing in Planet 50-50”. Private sector leaders, UN officials, gender experts and activists explored how skill development, entrepreneurship and innovation could help achieve gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

Photo credit: Trump Company

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - Donald Trump is changing the right wing’s economic spots. He is doing what Franklin Roosevelt did at the time of the Great Depression by increasing government spending – although it was the rearmament brought on by entering World War 2 that was an even more important factor in lifting America out of the doldrums.

Trump is following what Hitler did so successfully before World War 2 when he rebuilt Germany’s economic strength with autobahns and industrial subsidies (not rearmament in the beginning, as is often said). He is walking in the footsteps of President Richard Nixon who when he changed course with a new economic policy said, “We are all Keynesians now”.

Photo: Merengue musicians in the Dominican Republic. Credit: Ministry of Culture

By A.D. McKenzie

PARIS (IDN | SWAN) – Many people know of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, which include structures such as China’s Great Wall and Tanzania’s Stone Town of Zanzibar – “places on earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity” – but fewer perhaps know of the UN agency’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

This is an international register of cultural practices that are important for communities, in both traditional and modern ways, and 171 UNESCO member states have ratified a convention to safeguard these types of customs.

For ten years now, since the convention came into force in 2006, UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage Committee has met annually to choose nominees for inscription on the List, and next week members are meeting in Ethiopia to focus on traditional songs, rituals, celebrations and, in one case, beer drinking.

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