Stories about United Nations

Why are we not addressing the HIV epidemic seriously?

In April 2019, the media reported that there was a sudden rise in cases pertaining to human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) amongst the children of Rato Dero a small town in the backward province of Sindh. Unfortunately, this was only the tip of the iceberg.  During the next four months, a total of 30,192 people were screened for HIV, using WHO certified testing kits out of which 876 were found to be positive for HIV. Over 82% of those who tested positive were children. Dr Assai Ardakani, WHO Representative to Pakistan, speaking at an HIV awareness seminar, stated that over 85% ...

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Busting myths about water scarcity in Pakistan

By 2050, 5.7 billion people could be living in areas with severe water scarcity at least a month a year – that means almost six out of 10 people could be suffering from water shortages. This alarming report by the United Nations, presented last year, led to some much needed dialogue among world leaders. However, it has resulted in little change, and a nuanced discussion about water scarcity is often marred by the prevalence of certain myths regarding the water crisis in Pakistan, and around the world. For instance, many in Pakistan believe that desalination is the ultimate remedy which will cure water shortages ...

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Basic human rights still considered a privilege by the Pakistani state

The 10th of December is celebrated annually as International Human Rights Day to highlight the importance of safeguarding civil liberties across the globe. It was on this day, in 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that sought to protect basic freedoms of the world’s population. Today marks the 71st anniversary of the same. This year’s theme is “youth standing up for human rights” which seeks to highlight the innovative mediums through which today’s youth is raising awareness regarding pressing civil liberty issues.  Human Rights Day – A brief history After World War II, it was apparent ...

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How Greta Thunberg galvanised the crowds at COP25

The arrival of the 16 year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg at the IFEMA Conference Centre in Madrid, where the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2019 (COP25) is being held, suddenly electrified the otherwise uneventful climate moot. She was quickly mobbed by youth delegates and negotiators keen to take pictures of the inspiring young leader who has become a global celebrity in little over a year. In fact, she left shortly afterwards to return to the city centre to lead a massive climate march later that Friday evening. When I first heard Thunberg speak at COP24 in Katowice, Poland she was just ...

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How Pakistan failed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

On November 20 1989, the ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ was adopted by the United Nations, leading to the day coming to signify ‘World Children’s Day’ across the globe. The convention binds together countries and communities, a testament and a promise which states that children have the right to survive, live and develop; should be protected from violence, abuse and exploitation; and reserve the right to fully participate in the community that they are a part of. Yet, after 30 years, there is a dire need to revisit those principles in Pakistan. Despite the fact that Pakistan is a signatory to the ‘Convention on ...

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The problem with Munir Akram’s UN appointment

While Munir Akram officially taking over as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN) on Friday did make headlines, a petition filed in the Sindh High Court against him did not, quietly slipping through the cracks. After Maleeha Lodhi announced her departure, the appointment of Akram was met with muted applause for several reasons. It was argued that Akram had already served as Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN during Pervez Musharraf’s regime and that his return would only herald in more of the same polices. The bringing back of the old vanguard and a failure to bring something new ...

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The plight of the Uighurs

Whether you’re a Pakistani citizen living in Pakistan or in the diaspora, you must be familiar with the ongoing tussle between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Just a few weeks ago, India decided to revoke Article 370, taking away the special status of the disputed land and of the people living in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK). After India’s actions in IoK, the Pakistan government and people decided to reach out to the international community for support, using various United Nations platforms to voice their concerns and holding local protests in order to bring attention to this issue. While, as a Pakistani, I empathise ...

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Maleeha Lodhi: Spilling tea with the architect of Pakistan’s diplomatic coup at the UN

On a bright Sunday morning, right after Pakistan managed to raise the Kashmir issue at a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting – despite India throwing everything and the kitchen sink to stop it – we sat down for a conversation with UN Ambassador Dr Maleeha Lodhi at her official residence on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. We unpacked how Pakistan managed to orchestrate the UNSC meeting after five decades, what’s next for Pakistan at the UN, and what a typical day in her life looks like during these extraordinary times. “The fact that the UNSC meeting took place showed that ...

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The deepening crisis: child rights in a negative society

On July 17th every year, we celebrate the ‘World Day on International Justice’. Over 120 countries adopted this statute at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Rome, creating a permanent international court to task criminals. The anniversary is for taking a day out to reflect on the successes and challenges of bringing justice and countering violence. The recent United Nations (UN) casualty report has greatly undermined the gravity of the deepening crisis clearly demonstrating undue favouritism to certain countries that have been accused of the violation of child rights. One of the biggest casualty counts is the Yemen crisis, led by Saudi Arabia ...

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The UN can only watch in silence, while the Uighur can only suffer in silence

At the edge of the desert in Xinjiang, China, hundreds of ethnic Uighurs are trapped inside an indoctrination program designed by the Chinese state to rip away their Muslim identity. Here, under the eyes of the Chinese surveillance state, they are trapped in a void brought upon by the world’s silence to their plight. For more than a thousand years, the Xinjiang area of China was the home of the Uighurs. A few decades ago, this area was populated almost exclusively by its members. Today, more than 50% of its population is Han Chinese. Now, this didn’t happen because the ...

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