- By Colum LynchColum Lynch is Foreign Policy’s award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. He previously wrote FP’s Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He was also the silver medal recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize for a three-part series documenting the U.N.’s systemic failure to protect civilians in Darfur, Sudan. Colum’s investigations have uncovered an American spy operation in Iraq, Russia’s monopoly of the $1 billion-a-year U.N. aircraft leasing market, and a Chinese diplomatic campaign to silence U.N. investigators scrutinizing Chinese arms deals in Africa. His deep digs into the U.N. bureaucracy have exposed sexual misconduct by U.N. blue helmets from Bosnia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and documented monumental dysfunction in the U.N. office charged with rooting out misconduct and corruption. He now devotes his reporting chops to documenting President Donald Trump’s efforts to reorder the international system. Born in Los Angeles, Colum received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985 and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1987. Before moving to FP, Colum reported on diplomacy and national security for the Washington Post for more than a decade. He has appeared frequently on national news programs, including the Lehrer NewsHour, as well as on MSNBC, NPR, and the BBC.
A week after Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed resolution threatening sanctions against Syria, U.N. diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis are taking on air of unreality against a background of deepening violence inside Syria.
Earlier this week, France’s new foreign minister tried to organize a high-level meeting of foreign ministers at the Security Council to revive the stalled diplomacy at the United Nations. But none of the key players would come … so they’ve cancelled it.
The Arab League, meanwhile, launched its own initiative at the United Nations, where it is preparing to introduce a resolution that calls on the world to support Annan’s piece initiative and welcomes its own previous calls for President Bashar al-Assad step down.
The resolution has virtually no chance of forcing Assad to step down and risks undercutting the 193-member assembly’s record of adopting resolutions denouncing Assad’s government by an overwhelming majority, according to diplomats.
Is it "meaningful?" one diplomat said of the Arab League text. "That wouldn’t be the adjective I would use. Interesting, maybe. If they keep to this text they’ll be lucky to see it squeak through."
Kofi Annan, the U.N. Arab League envoy, is continuing to explore new ways to resuscitate his moribund peace plan, one of his advisors tells Turtle Bay.
"I have to say that Annan now seems to be stuck in a diplomatic twilight zone," said Richard Gowan, an expert on the U.N. at New York University Center for International Cooperation. "Annan’s diplomatic process is dead. Everyone including Annan knows that but nobody dares kill it off once and for all, and so Annan struggles on, pretending the dead process is alive!"
In a profile on Annan I wrote for the Washington Post I take a more in depth look at how the failure his peace plan is taking a toll on the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s reputation.
Here’s the first few lines:
Kofi Annan’s plan to curb the violence in Syria hit a dead end this month, another casualty of an escalating conflict that shows no signs of abating.
But Annan’s failure may have taken another toll: on the reputation of a career peacemaker and, by extension, on confidence in the power of diplomacy to resolve what is turning out to be one of the most intractable crises to grow out of the Arab Spring.
Read the whole story here.
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