Mark Goldberg

Mark Leon Goldberg is a Prospect senior correspondent. He writes at UN Dispatch.

Recent Articles

The Arsonist

There is an excellent coffee shop in the basement of the United Nations building in New York. The espresso is served bitter and strong, Italian style. Sandwiches can be bought on hard French baguettes, and the pastries are always fresh. Whenever a meeting lets out in one of the conference rooms adjacent to the shop, diplomats make a beeline to the cash registers. Others light cigarettes: Though the United Nations is in Manhattan, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-smoking crusade has not yet penetrated the complex, which sits on international land; so, beneath conspicuous no-smoking signs, diplomats routinely light up, creating a hazy plume that gives the Vienna Café a decidedly European feel. The European way of doing things, in the weeks preceding the mid-September 2005 United Nations World Summit, could not be stretched to include the 35-hour workweek. For days, frantic negotiations on the substance of far-ranging UN reforms dragged on from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. But the one UN...

The Lockerbie Solution

At first glance, UN Security Council Resolution 1595 reads like any other bland legal document. But the resolution, which passed unanimously on April 7, is anything but ordinary. Two months earlier, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, along with 22 others, was killed in a car bombing. Hariri was a longtime opponent of Syria's ambitions to make Lebanon into a proxy state, and suspicion concerning his death immediately fell on the Syrian security services. So, for the first time in UN history, a Security Council resolution authorized a special investigator to probe the circumstances of what appeared to be the state-sponsored assassination of a foreign rival. On October 19, the German investigator leading the probe, Detlev Mehlis, returned to the Security Council to present his initial findings. Despite Syrian officials' attempts to lead investigators astray, the report was clear. All roads led to Damascus -- specifically to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law,...

Hunting Kony

Joseph Kony is a lot of things to a lot of people. To his followers in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), he is God-like, with mystical powers that render him immortal. To the president of Uganda, he is a murderous gadfly who has been terrorizing the population of the northern provinces for nearly two decades. To the kidnapped children that constitute the rank and file of his army, he is a serial rapist and murderer. And to the U.S. State Department, he is the leader of a terrorist group. Kony's newest designation, however, is likely to provide the most lasting epitaph for which history will remember him: the world's first fugitive-at-large from the International Criminal Court (ICC). At the same time, the indictment will draw attention to the Bush administration's troublesome policy toward the court, and perhaps force the President to release the executive branch from its prohibitions against cooperating with the court. The ICC was established by treaty in 1998 to try the world's...

UN-Reformed

Under normal circumstances, the stalled negotiations over the most significant package of United Nations reforms in 60 years would be front-page news. But as public and media attention is focused on John Roberts, William Rehnquist, and Hurricane Katrina, it is easy to forget that next week the United States will play host to the largest gathering of world leaders in history. More than 170 heads of state will descend on New York for a summit billed as the culmination of the most extensive reforms to the United Nations since its founding in 1945. Replacing the discredited Human Rights Commission with a new Human Rights Council, enacting management reforms to increase oversight and transparency, increasing development aid to poor countries, and creating a more forceful mechanism to respond to genocide are all on the agenda. But if the current course of negotiations continues, diplomats expecting robust reforms will likely return home empty-handed, frustrated -- and mad as hell at the...

Bring Him On

In June, the Web site that served as the public clearinghouse of news and analysis on John Bolton's fledgling United Nations nomination, Steve Clemons' blog www.theWashingtonNote.com , reprinted a satiric cartoon depicting Bolton's first day at the UN. In the drawing, the political cartoonist Jonah Lobe portrayed a mustachioed Bolton clinging to the underside of a large statue of a .45-caliber revolver with its barrel tied in a knot. As visitors to the UN building in New York know, the statue stands at UN Plaza at Turtle Bay as a peace symbol. The cartoonish Bolton, though, has anything but peaceful intentions as he desperately tries to untie the knot so as to render the revolver operable once again. Hyperbole aside, the cartoon seemed like an apt representation of what Bolton's influence at the UN might be. After all, Bolton is the proprietor of a bushel of statements that question the value and utility of the United Nations as an instrument of peace and security in the world. Given...

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