Press Release

Expert Analysis: Confronting Transnational Challenges at UN and Beyond

in Program

As President Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly today for his eighth and final time, experts from the nonpartisan Stimson Center analyze the remarks as well as U.S. and U.N. efforts to confront 21st century transnational threats:

Aditi Gorur, Director, Protecting Civilians in Conflict Program, Stimson Center: “As President Obama noted in his speech, combating climate change is an important avenue for conflict prevention — but the new U.N. Secretary-General who takes over from Ban Ki-moon in a few short months must take action on another controversial and challenging issue to make conflict prevention a reality. The next Secretary-General should abandon the traditional aversion to “intelligence” in the U.N. system and recognize that modern challenges demand sophisticated intelligence capabilities. She or he must make it a priority to develop a coherent U.N. system-wide intelligence architecture that can identify brewing conflicts sooner and offer thorough analyses to shape more effective interventions.”
Ellen Laipson, Distinguished Fellow and President Emeritus, Stimson Center: “President Obama ‘s final speech to the U.N. was full of poignant observations about this confusing moment of time, with power ebbing away from nation states in general and the U.S. in particular. The conflicts are neither existential nor easy to solve with the existing tools for international cooperation. His message was grounded in sober realism not the optimistic rhetoric of his past speeches, but still made forceful calls to action, on refugees and climate in particular.”
Johanna Mendelson Forman, Senior Advisor, Managing Across Boundaries initiative, Stimson Center: “President Obama came to office with a strong belief in multilateralism as the best way to get things done. He leaves office reiterating his faith in this approach, but also adding his strong endorsement of democracy as the best form of governance to end human suffering, feeding the hungry, promoting respect for human rights, and ensuring greater economic  development. His commitment to a liberal world order is significant given that the word democracy does not appear in the UN Charter. Yet for him the future is not secure without it. Tolerance and trust are the operative terms in relations among nation, with a strong endorsement of new technologies as a path to a better world.”
Richard Ponzio, Nonresident Fellow, Just Security 2020 Program, Stimson Center: “Rather than taking a defensive or apologetic stance toward globalization, international institutions, and liberal democracy, President Obama championed in his final U.N. address the benefits for all of a fair global economy, well-equipped and representative international institutions, and inclusive polities underpinned by the rule of law, a free media, and a robust civil society. He views all three as a bulwark against the rise of religious fundamentalism, extreme inequality and global economic and climate shocks, nativism, and authoritarian governance.”
Rachel Stohl, Director, Conventional Defense Program, Stimson Center: “President Obama’s final address to the United Nations was a plea to return to the values and principles that created the institution more than 70 years ago. Cooperation with and integration of civil society, governments, and international organizations to implement priorities that prevent conflict, protect human rights, and foster economic growth are central to achieving a more just and peaceful world. Transparency and accountability must be at the core of these security and development objectives.”

For Immediate Release: September 20, 2016
Contact: Jim Baird; [email protected], (202) 478.3413

Photo credit: U.N. Photo via Flickr
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