The World of International Organizations Explained

Cartoons stir Muslim push for ‘hatred’ ban

Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan (ARÊTE/Public Domain)

Deep-seated anger among Muslims at continued efforts to satirize Prophet Muhammad in Danish cartoons has stirred the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations to propose an international legal ban against incitement of religious hatred.

A quiet force for civilian and political rights

Statue of Indian independence leader and symbol of nonviolent resistance Mahatma Gandhi outside the Palais des Nations in Geneva (ARÊTE/John Heilprin)

Three times a year, a little-known expert panel gathers in Geneva and New York with a monumental task: upholding people’s civil and political rights around the world. The job of the U.N. Human Rights Committee is to ensure 171 nations live up to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Experts detail atrocities against Rohingya

Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar who have fled for Bangladesh (ARÊTE/Ashraful Alam)

A U.N. expert panel returned from Bangladesh where they and other human rights investigators have been gathering evidence of what they describe as a military-planned campaign of genocide against Myanmar’s Rohingya people.

Modern slavery traps 40.3 million people

Total numbers from Walk Free Foundation's report (ARÊTE/Walk Free Foundation)

Modern slavery overtook the lives of at least 40.3 million people worldwide in 2016, according to estimates by an international organization working to end the prevalence of one person taking away another person’s freedom to control their body or refuse work. The victims were 71 percent women, 29 percent men.

U.N. urges Turkey to uphold ‘basic rights’

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey (ARÊTE/Leandro Centomo)

International organizations welcomed the end of Turkey’s two-year state of emergency rule and called on its government to uphold basic human rights and legal standards.

U.S. and Hungary reject new global pact

Confrontation between migrants and police at Hungarian border (ARÊTE/Trollman Capote)

A new global pact for promoting safe migration is advancing through the United Nations without participation from the United States and Hungary, both headed by populist right-wing leaders espousing hard-lines policies trying to keep immigrants out. The pact affects some 250 million people.

Experts warn of existential threat to WTO

The World Trade Organization in Geneva (ARÊTE/John Heilprin)

A panel of independent experts warned the World Trade Organization could become irrelevant if trade wars sparked by US President Donald Trump’s administration causes wider “backsliding” towards trade protectionism among major economies. It said a shakeup is needed to prevent WTO’s “gradual demise.”

Clean energy investment lags behind goals

New Zealand's Aviemore Dam on Waitaki River, completed in 1968 (ARÊTE/Graeme Scott)

Global investment in renewables and energy efficiency declined 3 percent to $318 billion in 2017 and “there is a risk that it will slow further this year,” posing a threat to the fight against climate change and air pollution, the International Energy Agency reported. Investment in renewable power dropped 7 percent last year.

Faster eco-improvement urged despite cuts

Dolphins off the coast of Australia (ARÊTE/Bernard Spragg)

The world’s foremost international organization for financing environmental change sent up smoke signals warning far faster action is needed on many fronts. The Global Environment Facility, or GEF, said current incremental rates of change are insufficient, but it and Green Climate Fund have funding challenges.

Iceland replaces U.S. on U.N. rights panel

Iceland's capital Reykjavik (ARÊTE/Kévin Veau)

Iceland won election to the world’s top international organization for addressing human rights, filling a vacancy left by the United States after U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration announced its withdrawal last month. Iceland will promote women’s and LGBTI rights, monitor countries and seek justice for victims.

The world of international organizations explained.

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