This excerpt, first posted on December 4, 2016, is reprinted with kind permission from PassBlue. Barbara Crossette is a Carnegie Council trustee.
The United Nations will swear in António Guterres as its ninth secretary-general on December 12, when the organization will be only weeks away from the inauguration of Donald Trump and the potentially most threatening, hostile political opposition to the UN ever assembled in Washington, DC. The UN will have to be prepared to respond and defend its record. Most likely, it will also have to fend off a wave of "fake news" and bogus sites designed to weaken public support in the United States and around the world. It will have to expand its audience reach as well.
By many accounts, the UN has fallen off the map.
Many factors are responsible for this situation. Inside the organization, competent staff members are silenced by an atmosphere that has made speaking out too big a risk to careers, even within the Secretariat or in high-profile missions around the world. Opaque, overburdened and ineffective UN information systems are largely not up to contemporary competition. Major international media have cut back coverage of the UN. Reporters who remain, denied access to officials and critical internal reports, are thrust into an adversarial role. Outside the UN, teaching and research about the organization have atrophied or have all but disappeared from most universities. Social media moves quickly into the vacuum, often with harmful disinformation.
For the full article, please go to PassBlue.