When the UN votes on the US blockade of Cuba this week, the US is likely to face opposition from nearly every other government in the world. But, if past experience is any guide, the US will simply ignore this. It will continue exacting unnecessary suffering on the Cuban people through a cruel and counter-productive policy.
Over the past year there have been a number of allegations in the UAE that authorities are torturing prisoners. Defendants in a trial of political dissidents, three Britons held in Dubai and two Syrians have come out to say they have been tortured. Now, smuggled handwritten letters by Egyptian prisoners facing trial over alleged Muslim Brotherhood links say that they have been tortured as well.
Much has been made of the apparent diplomatic thaw between the US and Iran, as exemplified by Obama's recent gift to President Rouhani of a Persian griffin-shaped drinking vessel, apparently 2,700 years old. But just as there have been those who doubt the veracity of Iran's professed dove-ish attitude, there have been some as-yet unverified reports that the griffin-shaped drinking vessel is in fact a modern fake...
The goal of extreme poverty reduction is surely the best-known of the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). On the face of it, target 1a - to halve, from 1990 levels, the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day by 2015 - is seen as a success story of the MDGs project, having been achieved five years ahead of schedule.
The destruction of Syrian chemical weapons (CW) has started. In a breakthrough moment in Iran-US relations, the two Presidents talked on the phone and the foreign ministers sat down to discuss Iran's nuclear programme. Though the connection has received little comment in the western news media, these two welcome developments are deeply linked and close to inter-dependent.
As I write this I'm looking out over the UN building in New York and its rows of flags from member nations. Right now world leaders are speaking at the annual UN General Assembly, discussing the issues that are most affecting their countries and the world as a whole. One issue that is central to this week is the ongoing Syria crisis; what I'm here to do is to make sure these leaders don't forget the voices of children caught up in this conflict.
It goes without saying that preventing sexual violence in conflict is not an easy task. The declaration adopted yesterday represents an important step at the political level, which should not be sniffed at. Yet how it translates into action in the DRC peace process, and in funding for those working to prevent and respond to this violence on the ground, will be the test of its rhetoric.
Globally, women and girls are estimated to account for almost two-thirds of the people who live in extreme poverty. Women currently perform two-thirds of the world's work and produce 50 percent of the food, yet earn only ten percent of the income. To add to this injustice, only one in five parliamentarians worldwide is a woman.
The eyes of the world are focused on the UN in New York this week in an amazing turnabout in international politics. We could have been in the midst of a Middle East war with the US and France having attacked Syria, triggering resumed fighting across the border of southern Lebanon and Israel. Instead, the UN is back on centre stage, the Security Council is functioning again, and its five permanent powers are in a constructive dialogue over chemical weapons in Syria for the first time in two and a half years.
It is imperative that post-Millennium Development Goals, currently being negotiated, do not overlook the plight of the disabled people and children. It is time for concrete action to ensure that particularly children with disabilities have access to education, protection from violence and abuse; and opportunity to have their voices heard. This is not just a development agenda it is also a human rights issue.