PassBlue is a digital publication providing in-depth journalism and vivid photographs on the United Nations, with a strong focus on women. Founded in 2011, it is a project of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. As philanthropic journalism, PassBlue is a recipient of grants from the Samuel Rubin Foundation and the Feminist Majority Foundation.
PassBlue covers the UN with a primary focus on women’s issues, population, international justice, West Africa, the Security Council and human rights, forging a journalistic path through well-written, jargon-free articles, interviews and feature stories that clarify the work of the UN in its many dimensions. We also report on the UN’s specialized agencies and US-UN relations, with a view to making the world body as open, accountable and accessible as possible to all readers.
Our subscribers include top UN officials, academics, students, diplomats, foreign affairs specialists, policy experts, journalists and those who care about the UN.
It is a large, complex institution that operates with a biennial operating budget of $5 billion (excluding a $7.5 billion budget for UN Peacekeeping Operations), with the largest contributor to both budgets being the United States. The UN employs more than 44,000 staff members worldwide in the Secretariat category alone: 15,588 in departments and offices; 2,704 in regional commissions; nearly 24,000 in peacekeeping missions; and 1,849 in war tribunals.
PassBlue has quickly developed a reputation for incisive coverage: it was the first publication to report on efforts to have Syrian women’s groups represented at the Geneva peace talks in January 2014; Switzerland’s petition to the Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court; Mary Robinson’s becoming the first special envoy for Central Africa; who writes Security Council resolutions; and the Security Council addressing child soldier use in Colombia.
PassBlue covers core issues of women through a wide lens, including a much-read article on how the UN dropped the ball on promoting family planning; the low percentage of women in upper-level UN posts; the likely departure of Michelle Bachelet from UN Women; how women use media in the post-Arab Spring countries; the ICC’s efforts to prosecute for rape in conflicts; the General Assembly’s resolution to ban female genital mutilation; and Tanzania schoolgirls forced to undergo “pregnancy testing.”
We have published exclusive interviews with such experts as Nafis Sadik, the former chief of the UN Population Fund; Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor for the ICC; and Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of the Bangaldeshi fund, BRAC.
Our articles and essays are written by such top UN journalists as Barbara Crossette, a former foreign correspondent for The New York Times and UN correspondent for The Nation; Irwin Arieff, who covered the UN, the White House and the US State Department for Reuters; Helmut Volger, the editor of A Concise Encyclopedia of the United Nations and German commentator on the UN; and Dulcie Leimbach, former publications director of UNA-USA and editor and writer at The New York Times for more than two decades. In addition, we have an active mentoring program for journalism students to write on the UN and learn about foreign affairs.
Through Goings-on, PassBlue reports on important UN appointments and personnel changes, such as turnover at The New York Times UN bureau. Worldviews is a forum for op-eds by such contributors as Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, Joseph Chamie, Thomas Pogge and Thomas Weiss. Books allows writers to expand on the topic at hand. UN Eats advises the UN community in New York on where to eat in the Turtle Bay neighborhood.
PassBlue is a play on the diplomatic passport known as “laissez-passer” (“let pass”), a blue travel document used by UN officials on missions and issued by national governments and world institutions during wartime and other periods to allow officers to travel to specific areas. The UN grounds passes are also blue; in addition, the UN issues passport-size IDs for travel on contract business.
PassBlue was designed by John Penney (firstname.lastname@example.org).
To write for PassBlue, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
To donate to PassBlue and receive a US tax deduction, please submit the contact form below.
If you are interested in an internship at PassBlue, find out more on our Interns page.
PassBlue is dedicated to the memory of Janet Leimbach, Aug. 26, 1925-May 23, 2011.