United Nations

Wall of names at the Potočari genocide memorial near Srebrenica.
Michael Büker / Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations' top court ruled this week that Serbia and Croatia did not commit genocide against each other's people during the bloody 1990s wars sparked by the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

The International Court of Justice said Tuesday that Serb forces committed widespread crimes in Croatia early in the war, but they did not amount to genocide. The 17-judge panel then ruled that a 1995 Croat offensive to win back territory from rebel Serbs featured serious crimes, but also did not reach the level of genocide.

Rebecca Cruise reports on the Xi Jinping's tour of South Asia and its effects on the future of trade between China and those countries. She also outlines President Obama's strategy to help contain the Ebola outbreak devastating West Africa.

Later in the program, Suzette Grillot interviews groundbreaking social entrepreneur Paul Polak about his strategies for pulling people out of poverty around the world.

On Tuesday President Obama warned of the growing global threat posed by the deadly Ebola epidemic sweeping across Africa and announced a new plan to combat the virus.

“If the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected, with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us,” President Obama said in his speech at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

Suzette Grillot talks with University of Oklahoma junior Amanda Tomlinson about the speech in Arabic she gave at the United Nations General Assembly this summer and the importance of multilingualism.

Later in the program, an interview with Pakistani actor Iqbal Theba about his role on the TV show Glee, and the role of race in the entertainment industry.

Amanda Tomlinson speaks before the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations

On June 27, the winners of the “Many Languages, One World” contest sponsored by the United Nations presented their essays to the General Assembly. Out of almost 1,500 students worldwide who took part in the contest, 60 were chosen; including University of Oklahoma student Amanda Tomlinson.

The contest required an essay written in one of the six official languages of the UN: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish – any language except the native tongue of the author.

The already alarming news from South Sudan grew even more worrisome Tuesday with word from the United Nations of mass graves.

In a statement, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said "we have discovered a mass grave in Bentiu, in Unity State, and there are reportedly at least two other mass graves in Juba," the new nation's capital.

While conceding that nations will disagree about when and how to step in as "tyrants ... commit wanton murder," President Obama told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that "we must get better" at preventing atrocities.

The president again laid out his case for strong international action to hold Syrian President Bashar Assad accountable for his regime's alleged use of chemical weapons. Then Obama told world leaders that:

Suzette Grillot and Rebecca Cruise discuss the cargo ship stopped in Panama on its way to North Korea with missiles and fighter jets on board, and Pakistani women’s education activist Malala Yousafzai’s speech before the United Nations.

Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, the co-founder of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), joins Grillot and Cruise for a conversation about gender and security in the 13 years since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Lyn Gately / Flickr Creative Commons

Last week Panamanian authorities stopped a North Korean ship carrying cargo from Cuba that violates UN sanctions against the reclusive Asian country.

Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, says Panama has exercised its legitimacy by trying to uphold the sanctions as the ship passed through its territory.

“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon came out and praised Panama for taking this action, and claimed that it really is the responsibility of all members of the United Nations to uphold these types of sanctions,” Cruise says. “They have legitimacy as the Panama Canal goes through their territory.”

Eskinder Debebe / UN Photo

Earlier this week Pakistani Taliban commander Adnan Rasheed wrote a letter to 16-year-old women’s education activist Malala Yousafzai saying he wished the October 2012 attack on her life hadn’t happened.

The letter came shortly after Yousafzai’s July 12 speech before the United Nations, where she said the attack gave her a renewed sense of strength, power and courage.

“The attack on her was not in response to her support for girls' education, but because she was critical of the Taliban,” says Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies. “He encourages her to come back to Pakistan and pick up her pen in the name of Islam.”

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