2017 Year in Review - International Organizations

By Alexandra Moffit

Picture: Globe License: Public Domain

United Nations

Under a new Secretary-General, the United Nations took several new steps based on studies in 2017.

·       Antonio Guterres begins role as Secretary-General of the United Nations in January.
·       The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to issue new sanctions to North Korea. These sanctions were in response to its burgeoning nuclear program and its ballistic missile program.
·       The United Nations’ agency that deals with aviation proposed a global drone registry that would aid local law enforcement agencies. This registry would be a step towards global regulations dealing with the small crafts.
·       Russia and China vetoed resolutions that would have sanctioned Syria for its use of chemical weapons.
·       United Nations agencies reported during 2017 that 2016 was the first time in the 21st century that hunger increased. Possible reasons offered by the United Nations for this increase were climate change and conflict. These would cause an increase in food insecurity around the world. There are currently around 815 million chronically malnourished people around the world.
·       The United Nations and other organizations began investing in blockchain technology. Organizations like the World Food Programme launched pilots that use blockchain in delivering food.

The United States and International Organizations

With the United States changing leadership as President Trump began his tenure in office, the United States changed its relationships with various international organizations significantly during 2017.

·       The United States, in one of Donald Trump’s first acts as President, declared its intention to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The previous administration had negotiated the large free trade deal with various nations but had not come into effect yet.
·       The United States withdrew from the Paris Climate Accords in June, becoming one of the only countries not party to the climate agreement.
·       The United States, Canada, and Mexico began to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement following President Trump’s dissatisfaction with the agreement. A relocation or dissolution of the agreement would cause major changes in the economies of each nation, as well as trade laws.
·       The United States withdrew from UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization, in October. “At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack,” Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova said. The United States indicated its reason for leaving as the organization’s inclusion of Palestine as a member in 2011.

Refugees and International Organizations

As refugee numbers increased in 2017, various international organizations took steps to combat problems.

·       Security in Burma has been conducting ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims. Some have sought asylum in Bangladesh. The crisis has had a global impact and is ongoing. A new UN pilot program could provide refugees in Bangladesh with work permits.
·       International Organizations like the World Bank used their leverage to try to push Burma to stop its persecution of Rohingya Muslims. The World Bank announced it would be withholding a $200 million loan it had promised to the country.
·       The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees announced that there are over 3 million stateless people around the world. The agency urges countries to grant citizenship to these stateless people, which would provide them with basic health and personal rights.