Keeping track of the UN
If one person in the world is making use of modern communication technologies to practise his freedom of speech, it is Mark Goldberg.
Mark writes for UN Dispatch, a blog intended to provide reflections, perspectives, and commentaries on the United Nations and to perform fact-checking on media coverage of the institution. “Many people confuse the UN with the member-states. They will cry out, ‘why is the UN not taking action in Darfur,’ without realizing that the UN has no political power of its own. At UN Dispatch we try to explain the complexities of peace-keeping missions, national security policy, and the things that are at stake if we blindly plunge into a conflict.” His participation in the 2001 Dutch program, while he was a student at Tufts University, was transformative. “It opened up my world”, he says, “Being raised in small-town Connecticut, I had never been exposed before to people and speakers of this calibre. People from different countries and completely different backgrounds all read, thought and committed themselves to the same sort of justice.”
Profoundly influenced by this new experience, Mark sought a fellowship with the New America Foundation, a non-profit public policy institute. His experience in seeking to bring new and challenging ideas to large audiences to change political discourse led to a Master’s degree in International Security Studies. Afterwards, he worked for The American Prospect, a magazine dedicated to liberalism and democracy that was founded to support the left in national debates. Mark wrote several critical opinion articles on US policy, for example on its failings with regard to Darfur, its campaign against the International Criminal Court, and on John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN.
Mark became the “writer in residence” and, soon thereafter, a full-time employee of the UN Foundation, founded with Ted Turners’ historic 1 billion dollar gift for UN institutions and activities. The Foundation sponsored Mark’s trip to Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Mexico with former president Bill Clinton. Consorting with influential figures like Clinton is now familiar to Mark, who holds weekly interviews with heads of UN organisations and then streams them on various blogs, including bloggingheads.tv. Most recently, he also maintains the blog On Day 1, where people can post ideas for President Obama to improve America’s leadership in the world and propose suggestions to eradicate diseases and find solutions for the energy/climate crisis. As with all of Mark’s projects, his blog is a welcome island of hope and clarity, in a political world that is too often polarizing and opaque.