Richard Gowan, WorldPoliticsReview

Richard Gowan


New York, NY, United States

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Past articles by Richard:

The U.N. Already Has a Challenging To-Do List for 2023

The UN has a challenging to-do list for 2023 that includes Russia’s war in Ukraine and potential UNSC reform efforts. → Read More

When It Comes to Vacations, We’re All U.N. Secretaries-General Now

In our age of nonstop emails and texts, many of us find it hard to take any time off work. So perhaps we can learn some lessons from senior U.N. officials. → Read More

Guterres Has a Lot Riding on the Ukraine Deal

Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in Istanbul for the signing of an important deal that will resume agricultural shipments from Ukrainian ports. There are doubts about whether this initiative will work out, but Guterres’s role in negotiating it could be a turning point in his career. → Read More

A Bold Second-Term Agenda Is Still Guterres’ Best Bet

Antonio Guterres spent much of his first five-year term as U.N. secretary-general navigating very difficult relations with the Trump administration. He would like to spend his second term overhauling the U.N. system to respond to challenges like climate change and inequality. Geopolitics may get in the way. → Read More

The Nutcracker’s Hidden Political Agenda

For most audiences, “The Nutcracker” is a children’s story and nothing more. Yet the ballet is all about conflict and cooperation. It is possible to see it as an illustration of the emergence of a stable international system from the turmoil of war—and to do so, we need to begin with the historical context. → Read More

The U.N. Still Has a Role to Play on Crisis Management

From Afghanistan to Ethiopia, 2021 has been a dispiriting year for advocates of multilateral conflict management, even as the rise of major power friction seems set to make international diplomacy over crises ever more difficult. But this does not mean that multilateral crisis management mechanisms are no longer relevant. → Read More

International Institutions Must Keep Politics Out of Their Data

Can we trust international institutions to give us impartial information about the state of the world? This question is at the heart of a drama currently roiling the IMF and World Bank. It is likely to haunt other multilateral organizations too, highlighting a fundamental challenge they face in protecting their credibility. → Read More

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of U.N. Diplomacy

At first glance, Olympic sports and the United Nations may not seem to have much in common. But when Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., leads the U.S. delegation at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Summer Olympics later this week, she may see some parallels between the Games and U.N. diplomacy. → Read More

Good Writing Can Make for Good U.N. Diplomacy

Edward Mortimer, a former speechwriter for Kofi Annan who died this month, exemplified the links between good writing and good U.N. diplomacy. It is a truism that the U.N. produces a lot of unreadable reports. But the organization has also appealed to many good, and sometimes great, writers who want to reflect its ideals in words. → Read More

Germany’s Plain-Speaking ‘Man in New York’ Had a Good Run at the U.N.

The U.N. diplomatic corps is about to say farewell to Christoph Heusgen, Germany’s U.N. ambassador since 2017. During his tenure, which included a Security Council stint, Heusgen has impressed and sometimes infuriated other diplomats with his plain-speaking, principled brand of diplomacy. He will be missed. → Read More

A Summer Reading List for Guardedly Optimistic Multilateralists

What should people who care about multilateralism order for their summer reading this year? Closely following day-to-day events can sometimes make it hard to get a clear sense of the health of the international system. With summer here, it’s a good time to sit back, pick up a smart book and try to see the big picture instead. → Read More

An Insider’s Guide to U.N. Security Council Diplomacy in 2021

What lies in store for the U.N. Security Council in 2021? People unfamiliar with the council’s inner workings might be surprised to learn how much of it is routine, as diplomats update mandates for ongoing peace operations and sanctions regimes on a pre-set schedule. But unforeseen crises always force their way onto the agenda. → Read More

Trump Failed to Kill Multilateralism, and Might’ve Even Made It Stronger

At first glance, multilateralism has fared poorly in the Trump era, as the U.S. president has boycotted numerous treaties and organizations. But most other countries have not followed his lead in attacking the international system. Instead, many of them have invested political capital in defending it. → Read More

At the United Nations, Trump Is Set to Launch Broadsides Against China and Iran

Like other world leaders, U.S. President Donald Trump is not traveling to New York for this week’s U.N. General Assembly due to the coronavirus pandemic, delivering a pre-recorded video address instead. But while the format may be peculiar, the substance of what he will say could be more familiar. → Read More

A Summer Reading List for Glum Multilateralists

What books should admirers of the U.N. be packing for their summer vacations? Tomes about international institutions rarely make great beach reads. But it can be refreshing to dig into books that explain how they actually work—or put their current travails in a historical perspective. Here are four good recent ones. → Read More

How the U.N. Can Mitigate the Coronavirus Pandemic’s Impact on Peacekeeping

U.N. peacekeeping missions have managed the immediate disruption of the coronavirus outbreak effectively. But the pandemic’s longer-term impact could limit funding for future U.N. operations. U.N. officials must think creatively about how to address new crises, with an emphasis on smaller and less costly options. → Read More

Is All Hope Lost for a Global Cease-Fire Resolution at the U.N.?

After nearly two months of negotiations, the U.N. Security Council has yet to agree on a resolution addressing the security consequences of COVID-19. Last Friday, the United States refused to endorse a text that the body’s 14 other members were ready to back. It is not clear that a compromise is possible. → Read More

Remembering Javier Perez de Cuellar’s ‘Piecemeal’ Approach to U.N. Peacemaking

When former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar turned 100 last month, his current successor, Antonio Guterres, sent a congratulatory note stating that “I have often reflected on your example and experience for inspiration and guidance.” It may have been more than a standard diplomatic pleasantry. → Read More

60 Years Later, a Cold War Scandal Still Holds Lessons for the United Nations

The high-profile death of outspoken Danish diplomat and United Nations official Povl Bang-Jensen, 60 years ago last month, was the culmination of a scandal that rocked the U.N. at the time, but has been largely forgotten. His story highlights the dilemmas and dangers that arise when U.N. officials speak up. → Read More

What Diplomats Can Still Learn From the First Christmas

Christmas is a time to revisit comforting stories and traditions. And so, this Yuletide, I feel a warmth on returning to World Politics Review to analyze the tale of the Three Magi—or Three Kings or Three Wise Men. There are several lessons about international diplomacy to draw from their legend. → Read More