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The UN, People & Politics

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Participatory Politics

The most widely endorsed decision-making systems, such as representative and referendum democracy, have serious flaws. Political institutions must be redesigned to enable greater deliberation and participation in the making of policies, argues Stephen Shalom.

U-20: Will the Global Economy Resurface?

Northern governments are responding to the economic slowdown by reviving the same 'fossilized institutions' that underpin the financial crisis. The G20 should abandon old ways of global governance and put in their place a more decentralized, democratic order, says Walden Bello.

A Planet at the Brink

Recession, unemployment and foreclosures represent only the surface level of a deepening global financial crisis. Now, the rise of ethnic strife and civil unrest could characterise a year of social conflict in 2009, says Michael T. Klare

World Social Forum and Davos at the Crossroads

As the ninth World Social Forum (WSF) came to a close last week in the Amazon basin, the simultaneous meeting of select business leaders and policymakers at the exclusive ski-resort of Davos, Switzerland, provided a sharp contrast between a spirit of vibrant public engagement and the mood of depression at the World Economic Forum.

Dignity and Hope: Too Much to Ask For?

Sixty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in a world gripped by conflicts erupting on almost every continent, what hope is there for extending respect, freedom and rights to everyone? Perhaps it's time to rethink the politics of human rights for the 21st century, says Nick Fraser.

Mass Media and Social Movements

Social movements rely on the media for three main services, (1) mobilisation of political support, (2) legitimisation (or validation) in the mainstreams discourse, and (3) to broaden the scope of conflicts. [1] Consequently, the quality and nature of the media coverage that social movements obtain strongly influences how they are perceived in the public eye – to the extent that good or bad coverage can help to make or break a social movement.

Why was the UN Budget Approved by Vote and not by Consensus?

During its first session – from 4 October till late in the evening of 21 December 2007 - the Fifth Committee had the arduous task of reaching agreement on the UN’s programme budget for 2008/2009. There has been a clear understanding since 1986 among Member States, that the budget would be adopted by consensus. This time, however - at the request of the US - a recorded vote had to be taken on the budget by the General Assembly on Saturday 22 December.