China Is Leading in Poverty ReductionChina is the world’s most populated country and has a culture that stretches back nearly 4,000 years. In recent years, its achievements in poverty reduction have been unprecedented. China is leading the world in poverty reduction, outpacing many other major nations in terms of national focus.

These efforts can be attributed to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has led a drive to eradicate the problem of extreme poverty. For the first time in over 30 years, its list of areas suffering from extreme poverty has been reduced. China removed 28 counties from its list of poorest places in the country. The number of Chinese people lifted out of poverty over the last 30 years accounts for more than 70 percent of the world’s total. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said in a forum that “China is an active advocate and strong force for world poverty alleviation.” This combined with efforts within the country shows how China is leading in poverty reduction.

The government of China hopes to share its experiences and improve collaboration with other countries as part of its plan to follow the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Years of work have led to China closing in on its goals of achieving a moderately prosperous society by 2020, beginning with the baseline task of lifting all people out of poverty. So far, more than 10 million people have been freed from poverty each year since 2012.

In an interview with Xinhuanet, U.N. Resident Coordinator and Development Resident Representative in China Nicholas Rosellini said: “These achievements not only can benefit China but also bring experience to the world and make great contributions to global poverty reduction efforts.” He goes on to stress that without China’s contribution, there is no way to achieve the common goal of reducing global poverty and believes that China can achieve the goal of comprehensively eliminating rural poverty by 2020.

Additionally, the United Nations will provide systematic support for China’s poverty reduction work. Rosellini commends China’s contributions to world peace, as they contribute more troops to U.N. peacekeeping missions than any other permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. China has become the second-largest country to share U.N. peacekeeping costs.

Although the goals may seem somewhat optimistic, it is still significant that China is leading in poverty reduction around the world. There are many reasons for the U.S. to increase support for global poverty reduction. With less poverty comes less overpopulation, as the higher the death rate is for children in a region, the higher the birthrate. This is because when people know their children will survive, they have fewer children. In addition to this, history has shown that when people transition from barely surviving into consumers, it opens new markets and job opportunities for U.S. companies. In the United States, one out of every five jobs are export-based, and 50 percent of U.S. exports go to developing nations.

There are many positive consequences that can come from fighting global poverty and they should incentive other countries, like the U.S., to increase their support for reducing extreme global poverty.

Drew Fox

Photo: Flickr

Cycle of RefugeesThe Rohingya are the most persecuted people in the world. The population has lived in Myanmar for centuries, but the government continues to view the people as illegal immigrants. Across the border, Bangladesh believes the group is Burmese. Thus, the population is stateless.

Since August of 2017, the Rohingya people have been forced to flee Myanmar to Bangladesh due to intense persecution and attempted ethnic cleansing. Human Rights Watch recently released new satellite imagery showing 62 villages in northern Rakhine suffering from arson attacks. The U.N. Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, describes the violence as “crimes against humanity, systematic attacks and forcible deportation of civilians.”

What is the reason for so much anger and violence? According to MSN, the answer is “nationalism-fuelled racism.”

The majority of the Rohingya refugees arrive in Bangladesh on foot, crossing a border lined with landmines by the Myanmar army. The government denies reports of landmines despite numerous claims from NGOs, such as Amnesty International. Other refugees have used small boats to flee. However, some of the passengers have drowned or the boats have sunk. Accounts have been devastating for many of the refugees at sea.

These allegations made by the international community are horrific, and they paint a picture bordering on genocide. Myanmar’s government responded to these claims, stating its military was fighting a terrorist insurgency.

In July of 2017, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army claimed responsibility for attacks with machetes and rifles in Myanmar. This single attack is believed to have triggered the mass violence and cleansing of the Rohingya population within Myanmar. The government of Myanmar has chosen to view the whole population as a terrorist organization, instead of locating the terrorists within the population.

The situation has become so extreme, the U.N. Security Council publicly rebuked the violence. The council acknowledged attacks on Myanmar security forces, but condemned the violence in response, urging for steps to end the violence.

The stateless people simply want a home, a land of their own. “We want to live peacefully in our native land. We don’t want to be on the strain of other countries,” Tun, a U.K. based activist, told MSN.

The international community wants to see urgent action to protect the welfare of the Rohingya refugees, as well as plan for the future. Formal recognition of the Rohingya as a minority in Myanmar is vital to prevent this cycle of violence. Provision of humanitarian aid and dispatch of U.N. peacekeepers are vital to the health and safety of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Danielle Preskitt

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in Bhutan
Bhutan is a tiny, isolated, primarily Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas that has only permitted television since 1998. In a country that measures development by Gross National Happiness in lieu in of Gross Domestic Product, does it make sense to ask how to help people in Bhutan? Given the often discriminatory treatment of journalists, non-Buddhists, the disabled, women and especially Nepali-speakers, the answer is yes—this question should still be asked.

Bhutan has had an extremely rapid transition from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy with the establishment of political parties in 2007 and held its first election in 2008. The Freedom House upgraded the country’s Freedom Status in 2009 from “not free” to “partly free,” citing the below reasons:

  • Journalists surveyed in 2012 expressed grave concerns about freedom and personal safety.
  • Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that work on issues relating to ethnic Nepalese are not allowed to operate in Bhutan.
  • In 2007, Bhutan moved to a rule of law. The civilian police operate within the law and the Judiciary is considered autonomous.
  • The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), in answer to corruption within the government, was given more leeway and power. The most recent Prime Minister, Togbay, does not tolerate corruption, and many prior powerful politicians are now being held accountable.

In the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons determined that the government of Bhutan did not fully meet minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government did demonstrate increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. In an example of how to help people in Bhutan, the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) partnered with an international organization to conduct training on anti-trafficking toolkits and also to facilitate reports on Bhutan laws and policies on trafficking. Bhutan, over the last five years, has still remained a source and destination country for both forced labor and sex trafficking.

Bhutan has no formal relations with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and accepts financial assistance from primarily India, leaving Bhutan isolated from much of the world. It has recently shown a willingness to move toward democratic ideals and is also seeking to increase tourism after a long history of shunning foreigners. Learning how to help people in Bhutan means working to ensure adequate funding for the NGOs and other agencies dedicated to assisting the Bhutanese officials. One must work to stay vigilant and continue to support organizations dedicated to combating violations of human rights in Bhutan.

Michael Carmack

Photo: Flickr

mali's security
The Security Council recently extended the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali by one year. The mission was established by the Security Council in April in an effort to bolster Mali’s state authority. That authority has been repeatedly tested by rebel factions in the country’s north which have seized a significant amount of control over communities in that region.

A ceasefire agreement mediated by the African Union has been in effect in Mali since ethnic Tuareg rebels launched assaults on government buildings, killing soldiers and government officials following a visit to the northern town of Kidal by new Prime Minister Moussa Mara. The attacks were a reminder of the violence which has gripped the nation in recent years.

In June of 2013 the Ouagadougon Agreement between Tuareg rebel groups from northern Mali and the government was signed with the African and European Unions serving as co-signees. The agreement allows the government’s army and administration to return to the region of Kidal which has been under the control of rebels since 2012 following a military coup. However, the agreement, like the ceasefire, has been tenuous at best, with the rebel group still wielding significant control over the country’s northern region.

In June 2013 French military intervention led to the defeat of Islamist groups controlling the North. It allowed for stability to return to the region, but that stability has remained fleeting.

Recently the United Nations announced that its peacekeeping forces in Mali will be using unmanned drones to gather useful information. This is similar to the drone operations already being utilized in Congo. So far, only 8,000 of the promised 12,000 UN peacekeeping troops have been deployed in Mali.  The numbers are set to increase soon, but there is no doubt that an integral portion of Mali’s stabilization efforts remains unavailable.

An addendum to Mali’s security woes has been the recent announcement by the World Bank that they would be delaying $63 million in aid pending their inquisition into Mali’s government spending. The International Monetary Fund followed suit by delaying $6 million of its own aid money. This follows the government’s purchase of an expensive presidential jet despite the country’s significant budgetary restraints.

It has become clear that Mali is plagued by varying levels of instability. Over the coming months the U.N. will attempt to temper that instability and instill competence in the state’s operations. The results are yet to be seen.

– Taylor Dow

Sources: UN News Centre, ABC News, Reuters Africa, CBC News, Reuters
Photo: Almanar News

On May 23, the U.N. imposed sanctions against Boko Haram. The United Nations Security Council added the Boko Haram of Northern Nigeria to the “List of Designated Entities” to be sanctioned in connection with al-Qaeda. Members of the group could be denied travel outside the country and see their assets frozen.

The 1999 Resolution 1267 originally focused on pressuring the Afghan government to abandon terrorist groups within its borders, and applied to the country as a whole. The problem, as detailed in a 2000 U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report, rested in the negative economic repercussions for locals. After the 9/11 attacks, the Council redirected sanctions against individuals and entities that supported or worked in coordination with al-Qaeda.

Yet, in targeting specific persons and groups, critics argue that the Council works against the human rights agenda. Although a process now exists through which one may appeal the listing, those accused of aiding terrorism stand no trial before receiving sanctions.

The name recognition that accompanies such sanctions may also serve as a useful recruitment tactic now that the Boko Haram is one of the most infamous organizations in the world. Critics have further argued that unlike the al-Qaeda group, Boko Haram’s funding does not often come from wealthy friends and family, but rather small-scale crime, and therefore sanctions would hardly address informal finances.

The announcement of sanctions comes as violence is ever increasing in the region. Only one week ago, twin bombings in the city of Jos, for which Boko Haram has yet to claim responsibility, killed 122 people. On May 5, the group killed over 300 people in Gamboru Ngala.

Boko Haram has also made headlines for the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls. Authorities have located the hostages, but security reasons have prevented a rescue mission. Many believe the sanctions represent a symbolic response to the international outcry on the kidnapping.

– Erica Lignell

Sources: BBC, Financial Times, GPF, United Nations

Following landmark political shifts in Ukraine during 2014, the scope of international politics has heavily focused its lens upon tension between Ukraine and Russia, and more recently in the eastern Ukrainian region of Crimea.

Popular uprisings in Ukraine have divided the population between western supporters of the European Union and eastern supporters of Russia. Although the majority of Ukraine’s population wants to be in alignment with the European Union, the region of Crimea contains a significant amount of Ukraine’s Russian-supporting population.

Russia has recently received international attention by its military occupation in the region of Crimea. In addition, the parliament of Crimea has even voted to secede from Ukraine. Critics of Russia, such as President Barack Obama of the United States, argue that Russia’s actions are in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and established international laws.

Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Jan Eliasson stressed that meaningful discourse and dialogue ought to be facilitated within the Security Council in order to reach a resolution to alleviate the problems in Ukraine.

The situation in Russia has consistently been a heavily debated topic in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC); however, extensive use of veto power by Russia has hindered the UN Security Council from reaching any substantial resolutions to alleviating the escalating tension between Ukraine and Russia.

The UNSC contains a body of five permanent member states including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France and Russia. The ability for Russia to block actions that are clearly within the goals and intentions of the UN to “pursue diplomacy, and maintain international peace and security,” and “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” provides significant concern for the institutional framework of the UNSC.

Although the United Nations Security Council accounts for the most powerful UN body, Russia’s ability to exploit its status as a permanent member have produced consequences with their violation of international law.

Moreover, while the UNSC remains in suspension of reaching a resolution, the situation in Ukraine is continuing to rapidly escalate. Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations pleaded to the UNSC in an emergency session to do everything that is possible to end the violation of national sovereignty and invasion of Crimea by Russian military forces.

Failure to make steps to remedy the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is exemplary of some of the weaknesses inherent to the UNSC. However, it has not been the only case of Russia’s exploitation of its permanent status and veto power in the UNSC. Critics have also argued that failure to resolve the conflict in Syria has also been the result of blocked motions by Russia.

Considering the level of power and influence the UNSC has, problems arise when just one nation has the means to restrict action in addressing pressing international problems. Russia has been quintessential in portraying how special interests can hinder the intentions of international law—which is at the root of why international law may need to be reformed in accommodating 21st century problems.

– Jugal Patel

Sources: Reuters, Al Jazeera, UN News Centre, ABC News
Photo: Rianovosti

UN Security Council
The continuing conflict in Syria between the Bashar al-Assad’s regime and opposition forces, the National Coalition, has led to a grave population in crisis where basic humanitarian needs are not being met.

But despite the push for nationwide access to United Nations relief aid, the Syrian government is determined to keep the course with restrictions. Thus, western powers of the U.N. Security Council have opined for sanctions against Syria.

Russia, however, has continued to veto such proposals.

United States President Barack Obama, alongside French President Francois Hollande, are adamant that save for Russia, the Security Council is completely in favor of aiding the undernourished population. Obama levies criticisms towards Russia in obstructing the Security Council.

The Syrian city of Homs, previously blockaded, recently received food aid under a ceasefire. While its war-torn population, ravaged by famine and in dire need of medical supplies, obtained aid; an estimated 200 individuals were evacuated. The two-year siege was broken with the delivery of a month’s worth of food.

Though the success of the recent ceasefire in Homs prevailed, the conflict is far from over.

The National Coalition also has put pressure on Russia. With peace talks currently underway in Switzerland, the Syrian opposition has expressed that the Russians should push the Syrian government towards a resolution.

In addition, the opposition proposes a transitional government that will maintain a ceasefire throughout the nation; the U.N. would run the proposed government.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has also agreed on the need for a transitional government where Assad is not connected.

With discussions at a standstill and a divided U.N. Security Council, progress is slow towards rebuilding a nation where thousands of its civilians have been harmed by violence and hunger with displacement even increasing the numbers negatively afflicted by the conflict.

Miles Abadilla

Sources: Al Jazeera,, New York Times, New York Times
Photo: CS Monitor

Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General
Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations preceding the current Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. In a recent town hall-style discussion at Yale University, reports Jim Shelton of the New Haven Register, the former U.N. official reflected on his tenure, during which he received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for his work in advocating on the issue of HIV/AIDS and other global issues. Annan also expressed his support for reforming the U.N.

He stressed that reform was necessary both in expanding the membership of the U.N Security Council, which has five permanent and ten non-permanent members, and addressing the issue of global poverty, which is one of the Millennium Development Goals due to be re-examined in 2015.

Annan’s most recent and well-known diplomacy role has been as the U.N.’s envoy to the Arab League during the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2012. Annan’s frustration with the inaction of the U.N. in addressing the issue famously led him not to renew his contract for the position of envoy in August 2012.

Annan said the U.S. and Russia must lead the way in shaping international consensus on a solution in Syria. Otherwise, a “chaotic collapse” there may lead to ethnic cleansing and ever greater global tension,” writes Shelton.

Kofi Annan’s urging towards effective diplomatic action is a rallying cry for nations to help assuage the mounting violence in Syria. With all the respect garnered through his long history of international diplomacy, we can only hope that Annan’s colleagues in the U.N. heed his advice.

– Nina Narang

Sources: New Haven Register, United Nations, BBC
Photo: The Elders