The United Nations struggles to be the world’s peacekeeper

The United Nations struggles to be the world’s peacekeeper

Where diplomacy balances demagoguery, should one nation be able to veto the votes of 192 others? Giving peace a chance might just be too much to ask. Non–Violence or The Knotted Gun by Carl Fredrik Reutersward, UN New York. Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 Hands up if you...

Global citizenship and cross-border collaboration has never mattered more. Among the 193 nations that make up the United Nations, the island nation of Tuvalu – less than 13,000 people – has the same vote on referendums in the General Assembly as China, which has more than 1 billion people. But China also serves on the UN Security Council and so can veto any proposal. Because of this strange inequity, the UN has been unable to stop ethnically-driven massacres, genocidal persecution of minorities and other smaller conflicts. On the other hand, it is bringing the world together on climate change. 

Exercise: Turn your class into a mini United Nations. Each student will get one vote. But appoint a small number of students to also serve on the Security Council. (You might choose the tallest, biggest students to emphasize the idea of power imbalance.) Have students propose changes that should be made by the school or your class. Then have the students on the Security Council see if they are willing to endorse the idea, with any one student on it given the power to quash the proposal. Then have students discuss the pros and cons of that structure and the power of the veto.

Could Ukraine war spread to space and endanger satellites?

Could Ukraine war spread to space and endanger satellites?

Despite conflicts on Earth, satellites orbit in peace. But use of Elon Musk’s Starlink to aid Ukraine has Russia looking to the sky with hostile eyes. A rocket booster carrying three Gonets-M satellites and the first Skif-D satellite of the Sfera programme lifts...

While all kinds of international conflicts occur on the ground, up in space things have been pretty peaceful. We depend on peace in the skies because such things as social media, multiplayer video games, Google classrooms and Zoom sessions rely on satellites bouncing signals across the earth. Correspondent Tira Shubart tells us why tensions on the ground in Ukraine could disturb the tacit and explicit agreements over satellites in the sky. 

Exercise: Let’s imagine that each student has been hired to draw up an international agreement to govern and protect satellites that need to cross the skies over international borders. What are the five most important considerations that would have to be included in this treaty? Some things to consider are: The citizens in every country want fast and reliable Internet; people want their privacy protected; and countries are concerned about the possible military use of satellites.

Gorbachev: Reflections on a statesman who shaped history

Gorbachev: Reflections on a statesman who shaped history

Alternately revered and vilified, Mikhail Gorbachev shaped history as the last Soviet leader. Our correspondents recall his impact and legacy. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev waves during a military parade marking the anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, Red...

At a time of sharp division between the West and Russia, News Decoder remembers an era when another intractable divide was bridged. At the height of the Cold War, two adversaries, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, forged an agreement to reduce nuclear arms. Alternately revered and vilified, Gorbachev shaped history as the last Soviet leader and the one whose decisions helped lift the Iron Curtain. To mark Gorbachev’s death, News Decoder correspondents who covered the collapse of the Soviet Union examine how the former Soviet leader’s legacy has evolved over time.

Exercise: Gorbachev left an ambiguous legacy. He is heralded in much of the West but viewed less favorably in Russia. Can your student’s identify other historical or contemporary figures who are viewed in a contradictory way? What’s at the root of such contradictory perspectives?

Tag: diplomacy