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2016 is the International Year of Pulses.

The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP) (A/RES/68/231)

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The UN is 70 years old.

There are many views on the way the UN functions. A significant view is   that the  United Nations is both “flawed” and “indispensable.” That is the point of view of the Obama administration.
The world sees  two different  UNs. One is the global institution itself. This “UN” is composed of departments, programs and agencies that deliver many essential services like peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance. I asked the editor of Himal recently where are the Nepalese children after the earthquake? He said they are in school. But where not the schools destroyed?
He said UNICEF has taken care of those schools with temporary sheds and everything else needed for the schools to function. That is UN, the first to come in and the last to go when a disaster strikes.
Containment of Ebola, eradication of polio,  victory over small pox and the many strides in achieving some the Millennium Development Goals could not have been possible without the UN.
The other UN is composed of 193 diverse and often fractious member states. In spite of all those expensive confabulations, Syria happened. Syria still happens. Sadly the UN  is not a coming together of democracies. Despots and tyrants rule many countries. They hold UN to ransom.  Super powers, the merchants of sophisticated weapons make sure that world conflicts continue, so that these strife torn and perpetually in conflict countries will steal from their children and buy more and more arms and   ammunitions.
The most important question is:  should UN get bogged down address traditional dangers of inter-state war, or should UN spend more time on  the transnational threats–like “proliferation, terrorism, degradation and disease”–that dominate today’s global security agenda.
Transparency is a major issue.

What does UN think of Itself ?

The UN has another image of itself.  “The UN is real and critical to the day-to-day lives of so many people around the world,”  said the Organization’s top public information official recently in Washington, D.C.The United Nations connects [people] to the rest of the global community. She continued.

The UN Charter, remains alive and vibrant – and an inspiration to so many people around the world.The UN Charter, has  grown out of the cauldron of war,  Its aim was high, even if the UN at its founding in 1945 did not yet encompass all nations and all peoples. The Organization soon expanded to meet the challenge of its founders, and the clamouring of 142 more Member States to join the 51 that originally signed it.

Today, the UN’s work adheres to its three broad pillars: peace & security, human rights, and development – three fields that overlap and intersect, on real-life issues ranging from climate change to gender violence.

Transparency is important. UNICEF  and UNDP have agreed to post their audits on the web. When will they do it? When will the rest of the UN do it?

Crucial 12 Months

The next 12 months,  will be crucial for the Organization and the international community, because of the important decisions to be taken in terms of sustainable development, the fight against climate change and humanitarian crises ravaging several regions the globe.

By the time you read this  the UN summit to adopt the UN post-2015 development agenda,  would have happened in  New York this September. Then there will be the the Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known informally as COP 21, in Paris in December . The first World Humanitarian Summit  will be held in May 2016.

Is the world is looking to the UN – and counting on the UN – to make a difference?

2030 Agenda

Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.

Ultimately, a successful 2015 will be the legacy of the UN’s 70th anniversary.   Let us roll up our sleeves and get ready for the next 70 years!

Between now and 2030, the UN’s task is clearly defined

  1. to end poverty and hunger everywhere;
  2. to combat inequalities within and among countries;
  3. to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies;
  4. to protect human rights and
  5. promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and
  6. to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources.

This is a  great collective journey with a supremely ambitious and transformational vision.  No one should be be left behind.

The Litany of Challenges

There are  immense challenges to sustainable development. Here is the litany of those challenges,

  • Billions of our citizens continue to live in poverty and are denied a life of dignity.
  • There are rising inequalities within and among countries.
  • There are enormous disparities of opportunity, wealth and power.
  • Gender inequality remains a key challenge.
  • Unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, is a major concern.
  • Global health threats, more frequent and intense natural disasters, spiralling conflict, violent extremism, terrorism and related humanitarian crises and forced displacement of people threaten to reverse much of the development progress made in recent decades.
  • Natural resource depletion and adverse impacts of environmental degradation, including desertification, drought, land degradation, freshwater scarcity and loss of biodiversity, add to and exacerbate the list of challenges which humanity faces.
  • Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and its adverse impacts undermine the ability of all countries to achieve sustainable development.
  • Increases in global temperature, sea level rise, ocean acidification and other climate change impacts are seriously affecting coastal areas and low-lying coastal countries, including many least developed countries and small island developing States.
  • The survival of many societies, and of the biological support systems of the planet, is at risk.