Category Archives: United Nations

A divided UN General Assembly votes on nuclear disarmament resolutions


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Last week (Oct 24-30) was UN Disarmament Week, when member states vote on a range of disarmament decisions and resolutions. Decisions are binding on the United Nations. Resolutions are indications of governments’ positions and intent – they are not binding but can be very authoritative and influential if supported by key countries.

The deliberations and votes took place in an environment of increasing tensions between nuclear armed States, and also an increasing divide between non-nuclear countries and those countries which rely on nuclear weapons for their security.

Here is a short summary:

Nuclear risk-reduction:

A resolution Reducing nuclear danger submitted by India received 127 votes in favour (mostly non-aligned countries). It failed to get support of nuclear-armed or European countries, primarily because it only calls for nuclear risk reduction measures by China, France, Russia, UK and USA – leaving out the other nuclear armed States – India, Pakistan, DPRK and Israel.

A resolution Decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems submitted by a group of non-nuclear countries, was much more successful receiving 173 votes in favour, including from most of the NATO countries and from four nuclear armed States (China, DPRK, India, Pakistan).

Nuclear prohibition:

A resolution on the Treaty on the Prohibition Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was supported by 122 countries. This is more than the number who have signed the Treaty (which is 50). The vote indicates that more signatures are likely. However, the resolution was not supported by any of the nuclear-armed countries, nor any of the countries under nuclear deterrence relationships, i.e. NATO, Australia, Japan, South Korea. The opposition of nuclear-armed and allied States to the resolution is another indication that they do not intend to join the new treaty nor be bound by it.

A resolution on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons submitted by India received 120 votes in favour, including from themselves and another three nuclear-armed States (China, DPK and Pakistan). Oddly enough, opposition to this resolution came not only from the other nuclear-armed States (who wish to maintain the option of using nuclear weapons), but also from some of the States supporting the TPNW. Why would these non-nuclear countries not want the nuclear-armed States to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons? UNFOLD ZERO will explore this question in a future update.

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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UN Conferences:

A resolution affirming a previous decision to hold a UN High-Level Conference (Summit) on Nuclear Disarmament was supported by 143 countries. The resolution, entitled Follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament, also promotes negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention – a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons that includes nuclear-armed States (unlike the TPNW which does not include them). Despite getting a strong vote in favour, including from some nuclear armed states, the proposed conference does not yet appear to have enough political traction to be held. The resolution did not set a date for the conference.

The UNGA adopted a Decision to convene a conference no later than 2019 on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Despite the objective of a Middle East Zone being supported by most UN members in a separate resolution (supported by 174 countries), the decision to convene a conference in 2019 to ‘elaborate a legally binding treaty’ was supported by only 103 countries. The hesitation by many countries to support the resolution was due to the fact that they believed that concrete preparations and negotiations for a Middle East Zone Treaty would require the participation of all countries in the region, and currently there is at least one country (Israel) that is not ready to work on such a regional treaty.

Humanitarian consequences and the law

A resolution on the Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, was supported by 143 countries, including one nuclear armed State (India) and one of the nuclear allied States (Japan). Most other nuclear-armed and allied States abstained or opposed because the resolution states that ‘awareness of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons must underpin all approaches and efforts towards nuclear disarmament.’ The nuclear armed and allied States accept that humanitarian impact shoud be considered, but they argue that security reasons for nuclear deterrence must also be addressed in order to relinquish nuclear weapons and achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.

A resolution on the legal requirement to achieve nuclear disarmament through multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations was supported by 131 countries. In previous years the resolution, which draws upon the 1996 International Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion, found greater support (137 countries in favour), including from some of the nuclear armed States. Previously, the primary call of the resolution had been for negotiations leading to a nuclear weapons convention which would include the nuclear armed and allied States. However, the resolution has been amended to call instead for nuclear disarmament through the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which none of the nuclear-armed or allied countries support. This has led to a drop in support for the resolution.

Other discussions and resolutions

There were other disarmament discussions at the UN General Assembly last week – included a heated discussion between Russia and the United States over the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Both US and Russia claim that the other party is in violation of the treaty, and last week President Trump announced that the US was initiating procedures to withdraw from the treaty.

In addition there were a number of other disarmament resolutions that were introduced, some of which were adopted and some of which will be actioned this coming week.

For more information see UNGA First Committee

Press releases: Nov 1 and Nov 2.

Reaching Critical Will UN First Committee

Executive Director remarks at the UN Security Council open debate on women, peace and security

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from UN Women

Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka presented the Secretary-General’s report on women, peace and security to the UN Security Council on 25 October, in New York.

Date: Thursday, October 25, 2018
(As delivered)

It is an honour to address the Security Council and to present the Secretary-General’s report on women and peace and security. I thank Bolivia for all the support they have given us in preparing for this debate

This report is a loud alarm bell on systemic failures to bring women into peacemaking in a meaningful manner.

The trend is, women are being excluded from the peace processes. The ones who do not wage war seem to be disqualified from making peace, while those who may be implicated in making war, seem to find it easier to be at the peace tables. 

I together with DPKO, have just come back from a joint UN/AU mission to South Sudan. The women we met there told us how they long for peace and to resume their lives, after nearly five years of suffering from a civil war that they are not responsible for waging. They said, “we are here because we want to reconcile even though we have never quarreled.”

While they still fear for the future, they appreciated the ‘Revitalized Agreement’ on the resolution of the conflict, which offers new hope for the country and an unmissable opportunity to build peace, with a 35 per cent quota for the representation of women. 

Their fears are however bolstered by the fact that, in these early days of the revitalized agreement, in the National Pre-Transitional Committee – there is just one woman among the ten persons nominated to be members of the committee, this is not the agreed 35 per cent. 

The report today details inescapably how this is not an exception but the rule. How there is at the same time hope for progress, and how we are failing to make it a reality.

But hope is something that we cannot and must never lose.
It shows us undeniable possibilities with undeniable failures, which are costing the lives of women and girls.

They do not wage war, but they die and suffer from it.
A year ago in this chamber, I raised the alarm at the numbers shown by the indicators we track yearly on peace processes and mediation.

Today I want to raise the alarm once more with the hope to jolt us into greater action, as indicators show numbers have stagnated or dropped again. 

For that reason, we focused this year’s report on the need for women’s meaningful contribution to peace, and we call on you to take the much-needed concrete actions. 

We need you to be vigilant about ending superficial efforts to include women that do not genuinely extend the opportunity to influence outcomes. 

We wanted to show that the extreme political marginalization at peace tables is often worse in the institutions set up to implement those agreements. 

And we wanted to spotlight the many ways in which women are keep on being active and resilient. They are active in negotiating ceasefires, civilian safe zones, demobilization of fighters, or humanitarian access at the local level, or drawing up protection plans at the community level, like in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan or the Central African Republic. 

We want the UN membership to pay due attention to these dynamics, make them visible in forums like this one, and use them to support the women’s political agency, provide financial resources and enable women to do even more.

The continued tolerance for the limited recognition of women’s expertise and lived experience is a setback for all of us. Statistics on women’s involvement speak for themselves.

Between 1990 and 2017, under our watch, women constituted only two per cent of mediators, eight per cent of negotiators, and five per cent of witnesses and signatories in major peace processes. Only three out of 11 agreements signed in 2017 contained provisions on gender equality, continuing last year’s worrisome downward trend. Of 1,500 agreements signed between 2000 and 2016, only 25 raise the role of women’s engagement in the implementation phase.

In Yemen, current efforts at resuming dialogue do not include women, beyond setting up observer bodies to advise the UN Special Envoy. Even in a consultative meeting in London this summer organized by the UN, convening 22 prominent Yemeni leaders to discuss the peace talks, there were only 3 Yemeni women invited.

In Mali, women average a dismal three per cent of the membership of the multiple national committees set up to monitor and implement the peace agreement.

In the Central African Republic, mediation efforts are focused on the presidency and the 14 armed groups and exclude women altogether.

In Afghanistan, the government and its international partners invest efforts in including women in the High Peace Council and provincial peace councils, but when it comes to actual talks with the Taliban, women’s absence is noticeable.

Undeniably, there are possibilities, but also undeniably there are failures and determined women.

In 23 rounds of Afghanistan-Taliban peace talks between 2005 and 2014, women were at the table just twice. Now that there are offers to resume peace talks without pre-conditions, Afghan women peacebuilders want to be at the table and want to make a difference.

Finally, here is a number that is more positive. Security Council decisions about country-specific or regional situations that contained language on women, peace and security increased from 50 to 75 per cent. This must lead to increased action on the front lines. 

The number of women leaders and civil society representatives who briefed the Security Council also increased significantly. 

I thank Council members for these efforts and their continued participation in the Informal Experts Group on Women, Peace and Security, currently co-chaired by Sweden and Peru, in collaboration with the United Kingdom. 

But we need to use all available diplomatic channels and political influence to ensure that these decisions in New York are making a difference on the ground. This is simply not happening in the most meaningful way.

The bigger picture of gender inequality in conflict and post conflict countries is something we need to continue to watch.

Today’s report gives us a broad picture of the many remaining areas of challenge to reach equal representation of women in the vital processes of our nations.

For example, only 16 per cent of parliamentarians in conflict and post-conflict countries are women – same as last year, and the year before that. 

There is 20 per cent representation of women in countries that use quotas and just 12 per cent in countries that do not use quotas. It is for that reason that we appreciate the leading from the front demonstrated by our Secretary-General and call for special measures in the manner in which he is driving the parity process within the United Nations.

This Council just visited the Democratic Republic of Congo ahead of crucial elections. Only 12 per cent of registered candidates are women, just like in the previous elections seven years ago. And women are suffering intimidation.

Of the 17 countries that have elected a woman head of state or government, none are post-conflict countries at this point.

I ask again, as I did last year, we need to heed the call and address the patterns these numbers show us. On our part we will continue to follow up with you on to address this situation with vigilance and make a significant difference.

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Question for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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It is not only women whose opportunities are being limited. In many conflict settings, girls are one and a half times more likely to be out of primary school and whole communities are set back. The numbers of children lacking education in conflict areas calls for a concrete response and solution, with schools and second chance education.

Child marriage rates are also affected by war. In Yemen, the rate of child marriage was 66 per cent in 2017. It was 52 per cent last year. And 32 per cent before the recent conflict erupted.

Unsurprisingly, but tragically, maternal mortality rates are almost twice the global ratio in conflict and post-conflict countries. Of the 830 women and adolescent girls who die every day from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, 507 die in countries that are considered fragile because of conflict and disaster.

To address these issues and support the regeneration of families and communities, we need strong and targeted investments in women in conflict areas.

This is just not happening enough, despite undeniable goodwill towards the women peace and security agenda in countries that are affected.

The clear gender inequality in women’s access to resources is not simply caused by the presence of conflict. It is also a reflection of non-prioritization of women’s needs and the relegation of women to small-scale and local peripheral initiatives. 

In the Sahel, where we visited with Deputy Secretary-General, the African Union and Minister Wallstrom, we saw the dire poverty of women and communities in the Lake Chad basin. 

We saw households with no electricity in a part of the world which has the highest penetration of the sun on earth and is more suitable than anywhere else in the world for sustainable energy generation from solar power.

Yet clinics lack power. Women have no cold storage for their fish and the fresh produce needed for food security—which contributes in some cases even more to peace than the military.

In conflict-affected countries, only 11.5 per cent of landholders are women.

Although bilateral aid to promote gender equality in fragile country situations rose by 17 per cent compared to the previous year, it still only amounts to five per cent of total bilateral aid spent on programmes with gender equality as the primary objective.

In the DRC, for example, aid from OECD-DAC to gender equality was only 8 USD per capita last year. The same year, the UN documented a 56 per cent increase in sexual violence.

The share of the aid channeled through non-governmental women’s organizations has stagnated.

Our financial commitments do not match the extent to which we rely on these groups.

Yes, there has been undeniable progress, because the actions undertaken with civil society continue to be favoured as a way to operate. This must turn into concrete action and better investment in these groups.

Civil society and women’s organizations have been failed in the midst of record-breaking numbers of side events at intergovernmental meetings. Our plea is to refocus our energies and resources. I believe there is goodwill and we all want what is best for women and girls.

While we have disappointing indicators on women and girls, global military spending has reached 1.74 trillionUSD, a 57 per cent increase since 2000. Some countries allocate more public money to the military than to education or health.

Ninety per cent of grassroots women’s organizations working in areas directly impacted by terrorism and violent extremism state that current counterterrorism measures have an adverse impact on work for peace, women’s rights and gender equality.

We must respond to the many violations against the human rights of women and girls within these groups, and to the social stigma, economic hardship and discrimination women and girls experience when returning to their homes and communities when they have been part of violent groups.

These challenges are best addressed by actions that protect and promote the rights of victims and are fundamentally based in human rights law.

Women human rights defenders, who are on the front lines, are fighting a lonely battle. Many die a lonely death from weapons that are meant to protect them.

Let us look ahead with hope, and the knowledge of what we are capable of together.

This includes what we can do with women such as the African Women Leaders Network, which has been given a boost by the support of Germany and has focal points already in more 30 African countries.

We are already gearing up for the 20th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325, which will be an opportunity to shape the agenda for the next decade with new commitments and priorities.

We have to start now to gear up towards better results.

We need more positive signs such as those I saw in Somalia where we need to help accelerate positive change.

There will be opportunities for everyone to weigh in, including at next year’s meeting of the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network in Windhoek, Namibia, which will carry a special symbolism for those that have been in this movement for a while. 

For now, I want to share three priorities for 2020.

This August, the world mourned the loss of Kofi Annan. Part of his legacy was that the UN debated and decided to stop supporting peace agreements that included blanket amnesties. I think that, two decades later, it is time for the UN to have a similar conversation about supporting, brokering and paying for peace negotiations that exclude women. This is in your hands. This was raised by women from civil society at the forum this Council was invited to earlier this week, at the initiative of Sweden.

Secondly, one of the many positive examples in the report is the UN Peacebuilding Fund’s steadily growing support to projects advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Finding ways to make the 15 per cent minimum target a reality across all relevant entities and other peace and security funds is a point we can all focus on. Joint programming on rule of law in conflict and post-conflict countries, and addressing educational and Economic resilience, or multi-partner trust funds in fragile settings, should be at the start of all conversations about financing.

And finally, we need to do much more to protect women activists, peacebuilders and human rights defenders in conflict-affected countries. We applaud the historic participation of a Palestinian woman representing civil society in addressing this Security Council for the first time. 

We commend the Nobel Committee’s recognition to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their advocacy on behalf of victims of wartime sexual violence. It is an example of the importance of this issue, to which my esteemed colleague SRSG Pramila Patten devotes all her time and energy. 

I met many exceptionally courageous women in my recent travels to Somalia, South Sudan, the Sahel and the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Many of them are here today. But many could not be here. 

In 2017, half of the women honoured in the annual tribute of the Association for Women in Development were murdered in conflict affected countries. 

But the list is much longer when we include women political leaders, journalists, justice actors and security sector personnel, and those perceived to be LGBTI or who challenge traditional gender roles simply by their involvement in public life. 

It is my strong wish that we will find the political will to do much more about this epidemic of killings of women over the next decade than we have in this past one.

Change is within our hands. Let us work for positive indicators for the next report and let us make sure that next Secretary-General’s report will be able to show that we are turning the corner.

Thank you.

GAPMIL gives Global Media and Information Literacy Awards 2018


An article from UNESCO

he UNESCO-linked network called the Global Alliance for Partnership on Media and Information Literacy (GAPMIL) presented the third edition of its Global Media and Information Literacy Awards this week.

The network recognised Ms Jane Tallim and Ms Cathy Wing of MediaSmarts in Canada, Jordan Media Institute in Jordan, Mr Hemmo Bruinenberg in the Netherlands, and the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos, Mexico.

The network recognised Ms Jane Tallim and Ms Cathy Wing of MediaSmarts in Canada, Jordan Media Institute in Jordan, Mr Hemmo Bruinenberg in the Netherlands, and the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos, Mexico.

The Awards ceremony was held at the Opening Session of the Global MIL Week 2018 Feature Conference in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Jane Tallim and Cathy Wing of MediaSmarts received the top prize. They have been central to MIL in Canada since they joined MediaSmarts in 1995. They both served as co-executive directors from 2008-2018. During that time, they were responsible for Young Canadians in a Wired World, one of the world’s largest and longest-running research projects on youth and the Internet. They also developed the resource, Use, Understand and Create: A Digital Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.

Under Jane and Cathy’s leadership, MediaSmarts has also contributed to the adoption of media and information literacy in Canada by advising on curriculum and by training teachers, both personally and through the creation of self-directed professional development materials.

There was a tie for the second place of the GAPMIL Global MIL Award 2018 between the Jordan Media Institute and Hemmo Bruinenberg from the Netherlands.

In partnership with UNESCO and the European Commission, Jordan Media Institute launched a project to integrate MIL into Jordan’s schools and universities and raise awareness among the public in 2016, and has been actively engaging decision makers in advocating for MIL and succeeded in including MIL in national strategies on youth and combating extremism and violence at universities.

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Question related to this article.

Is Internet freedom a basic human right?

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Through this partnership, JMI trained 74 teachers and professors and 390 students from eight public schools and two universities. Some of the teachers and students have set up MIL Clubs for students in grades 7-9.  The JMI team drafted six documents that were based on UNESCO MIL literature including a policy paper and syllabus for schools and textbook for universities. They also succeeded in encouraging the University Al Al-Bayt to introduce MIL course this fall.
The other winner of the second prize, Hemmo Bruinenberg introduced a visual literacy project called Ithaka Film Festival led by his organization the Video Bakery and the Ithaka International Transition Classes. Over a three-day period, immigrant and refugee students make their own film with professional equipment from extensive research to the media creation and production.

Students not only work on media and information literacy skills, but also as social skills, empowerment, Dutch language and therefore facilitating their integration in Dutch society. The Ithaka Film Festival shows how a media and information literacy project can contribute to the development of skills among a vulnerable group of young students, and how MIL can be integrated in secondary school education in a sustainable way. The project promotes tolerance and cultural equality a better representation in Dutch society.

According to Alton Grizzle, the UNESCO Programme Specialist with responsibility for UNESCO global actions on MIL, “recognition by GAPMIL motivates, stimulates, and appropriates the sharing of MIL experiences and knowledge.” He continued: “When the hard work and innovation of actors in the MIL is celebrated by the community, this creates new MIL champions.”

The third place for the GAPMIL Global MIL Awards goes to the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos (UAEM), Mexico. UAEM initiated a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) aimed at promoting information literacy to fight disinformation. The University is using e-learning and ICT to meet not only the needs of its students and educators, but also of the wider society in Mexico and in the Spanish Speaking part of the world.

A total of 2,775 participants registered in the first edition of this MOOC and it has potential for future editions. It educated people to develop competences as critic and reflective news consumers, and to promote harmonic interactions in social media. All content for the MOOC is originally produced by e-UAEM, and this course is part of the university’s Digital Culture Programme.

The UNESCO-led GAPMIL is a network of networks that promotes international cooperation to ensure that all citizens have access to media and information competencies. It currently has over 500 member organizations (including other networks) from over 110 countries.


Education for girls projects in Jamaica and Egypt win UNESCO prize

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from Their World

Kemoshia Gibbs was only 13 when she found out she was pregnant. She cried every day – and so did her mother. “I was so ashamed, depressed, stressed, confused, frustrated, sad and had anger issues,” she said. “I faced a mix of feelings, all bundled up in one. I was afraid to go outside. It was as if I was confined to the bedroom.”

Kemoshia left her high school and moved into the Women’s Centre of Jamaica programme. It helps to provide continuing education, health services and other assistance for girls who drop out during pregnancy – and then assists their reintegration into school.

After having a son, and with the organisation’s help, she moved back into the regular school system in 2014. Determined to succeed, she juggled with the demands but graduated as the top female student at Godfrey Stewart High.

Kemoshia – who hopes to have a career in humanities or food science and technology – said: “I am forever grateful for the contribution of the Women’s Centre in my life. They were there when my life was a mess.”

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Question for this article

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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That work has seen the Women’s Centre of Jamaica named as one of two winners of this year’s UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education. The other is the Misr El-Kheir Foundation from Egypt, for providing community-focused educational opportunities to children aged from six to 14 in remote areas.

They received their $50,000 prizes at a ceremony in Paris. Zoe Simpson, Executive Director of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica, told Their News: “The UNESCO prize will be used to further enhance and expand the virtual delivery of special preparatory classes to the rural centres.  

“The classes prepare the older adolescent mothers to sit the external examinations that enable them to matriculate to tertiary-level studies.”

The Misr El-Kheir Foundation  won for a project called Educational Opportunities for Children in Underserved Villages through Community Schools.

This provides community-focused educational opportunities to children aged from six to 14 in remote areas. It particularly focuses on girls who are not enrolled in primary education or who have dropped out due to early marriage or other obstacles. 

Mohamed Abdel Rahman, Deputy Managing Director of Misr El Kheir Foundation, said: “We build schools inside the communities. We get the teachers from within the same communities. So the girls have the right to education and easy access to schools.”

The UNESCO prize – funded by the Chinese government – was launched in 2016 to recognise the Sustainable Development Goals on education and gender equality. 

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

United Nations Special Climate Report: 1.5ºC Is Possible But Requires Unprecedented and Urgent Action


An article from The United Nations

Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far- reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday [October 8] in a new assessment. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, .

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

“With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policy relevance of the IPCC,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when it adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The report’s full name is Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.

Limiting global warming

The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2ºC.

“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5ºC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

Limiting global warming would also give people and ecosystems more room to adapt and remain below relevant risk thresholds, added Pörtner. The report also examines pathways available to limit warming to 1.5ºC, what it would take to achieve them and what the consequences could be.

“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5ºC are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I.

The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.

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Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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“Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

Allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed or ‘overshoot’ 1.5ºC would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove CO2 from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5ºC by 2100. The effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development, the report notes.

“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared with 2°C would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, making it easier to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said Priyardarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future, said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

“This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people’s needs. The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” she said.

Special Report

The Report was prepared under the scientific leadership of all three IPCC working groups. Working Group I assesses the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II addresses impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III deals with the mitigation of climate change.The IPCC is the leading world body for assessing the science related to climate change, its impacts and potential future risks, and possible response options.

The Paris Agreement adopted by 195 nations at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in December 2015 included the aim of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre- industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

As part of the decision to adopt the Paris Agreement, the IPCC was invited to produce, in 2018, a Special Report on global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. The IPCC accepted the invitation, adding that the Special Report would look at these issues in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Global Warming of 1.5ºC is the first in a series of Special Reports to be produced in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Cycle. Next year the IPCC will release the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and Climate Change and Land, which looks at how climate change affects land use.

The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) presents the key findings of the Special Report, based on the assessment of the available scientific, technical and socio-economic literature relevant to global warming of 1.5°C.

Key statistics of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC

91 authors from 44 citizenships and 40 countries of residence

14 Coordinating Lead Authors (CLAs)
60 Lead authors (LAs)
17 Review Editors (REs)
133 Contributing authors (CAs) Over 6,000 cited references
A total of 42,001 expert and government review comments
(First Order Draft 12,895; Second Order Draft 25,476; Final Government Draft: 3,630)

Nuclear Abolition Day: Security Council session clashes with UN High-Level Meeting


An article from Unfold Zero

The UN General Assembly held a high level meeting on nuclear disarmament on Wednesday last week (September 26) to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other leaders from around the world used the opportunity to promote key initiatives and measures for nuclear disarmament including the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, nuclear-weapon-free zones, de-alerting, no-first-use, stockpile reductions, the Korean peace and denuclearization process, the Iran nuclear nonproliferation deal, the recently adopted treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons and the global elimination of nuclear weapons through a nuclear weapons convention.

However, apart from India and Pakistan, the nuclear armed States were noticeably missing from the meeting. The P5 (China, France, Russia, UK and the USA) were instead down the hall in the Security Council chambers for a competing event on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction chaired by US President Donald Trump. Their absence from the High Level Meeting highlighted the fact that the P5 place very little priority on their obligations to eliminate their own weapons of mass destruction, focusing instead on preventing others from acquiring such weapons.

Photo by John Angelilio

Youth activist calls on states to ‘Move the Nuclear Weapons Money’

‘The United Nations and its member countries should focus more on disarmament for sustainable development’, says 18 year old environmental activist and youth leader Kehkashan Basu who was selected by the President of the UN General Assembly as one of the two representatives of civil society to address the September 26 UN High Level Meeting.

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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‘Every second, a person dies of hunger. Which means that by the time I finish speaking, 500 more people would have died of hunger and starvation,’ Ms Basu told the UN session. ‘And yet the nuclear-armed States continue to spend billions of dollars for building nuclear stockpiles, ostensibly in the name of security, but in reality threatening current and future generations and violating the rights of children to a peaceful and non-irradiated planet.’

‘Our banks, universities, cities, pension funds and governments continue to invest in the corporations manufacturing and promoting the nuclear arms race for their own personal gain with no consideration for the ethics of investing in death,’ she said.

‘Civil society organisations, in cooperation with parliamentarians from around the world, have launched the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign to cut the $100 billion annual nuclear weapons budget and reallocate these resources into the Sustainable Development Goals and other areas of human and environmental need. This includes direct cuts to nuclear weapons budgets, and divestment from the nuclear weapons industry. Already four governments and a number of cities, banks and investment funds have adopted nuclear weapons divestment policies.’ (Click here to read the full speech and see the video of Ms Basu’s speech).

Ms Basu was also a keynote speaker at Youth, disarmament and sustainable devlopment, an international youth forum held in New York to commemorate UN Peace Day (Sep 21) and International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Special screenings of ‘The Man who saved the World’

The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons is held on September 26, the anniversary of the incident in 1983 when a nuclear war almost erupted by accident. On this day, the Soviet nuclear early warning center Serpukhov-15 detected ballistic missiles heading towards Moscow. Stanislav Petrov, duty officer at the time, reported a ‘false alarm’ despite the information, and probably averted a nuclear ‘retaliation’ from the Soviet Union.

The story of this incident, and the follow-up visit by Stanislav Petrov to the USA 30 years later, is told in the award winning movie ‘The Man Who Saved the World.’ The movie was shown in a number of special screenings around the world to commemorate the International Day.

UN Secretary-General’s remarks at Peace Bell Ceremony on the International Day of Peace


An article from the United Nations News Service

It is for me an enormous pleasure to be with all of you during this International Day for Peace.

We are here because we are determined and we do not give up.

We see conflicts multiplying everywhere in the world. We see links between conflicts and terrorism. We see insecurity prevailing. We see people suffering. But we don’t give up.

Secretary-General António Guterres rings the Peace Bell at the annual ceremony held at UN Headquarters in observance of the International Day of Peace. UN Photo/Mark Garten

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Question for this article

What has happened this year (2018) for the International Day of Peace?

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We know that when we appeal for combatants to have a pause to respect this day, we know that many will not respect it. But we don’t give up.

When we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we know that human rights are violated in so many parts of the world, we even know that the human rights agenda is losing ground. But we don’t give up because respect for human rights and human dignity is a basic condition for peace.

It is true that extreme poverty is being reduced but we see inequality growing. But again we don’t give up because we believe inequality is one of the most important factors of instability and conflict. So we will pursue our Agenda, the 2030 Agenda, The Sustainable Development Goals, our struggle for a fair globalization because there is no development without peace but there is also no peace without development.

We will not give up. Peace is the unifying concept that brings us together at the United Nations.

Peace is at risk. Peace is violated in so many places. But we will not give up.

Thank you for your determination and thank you for your strong commitment for our common cause.

Federico Mayor: The Culture of Peace: a credible pathway to sustaining peace


Speech by Federico Mayor at UN High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace

After the impressive Plenary Segment of this morning and afternoon; after the rich debate of this excellent Panel, I consider that to put into practice the culture of peace and non-violence, we must

Photo of Federico Mayor speaking at Forum by Bircan Unver, GMCOP

1.- have particularly in mind:

– the Programme of Action of the Resolution of the GA of 13 September 1999.

– the GA Resolution of 16 December, 2016 – Follow-up.

– the GA Resolution of 11 December, 2017 – Follow-up, as well, both of them agreed by very important number of countries. And very populated ones, as China, India, …

2.- The General Assembly has highlighted in these Resolutions, as well as in the UN High Level Forums since 2012, the necessity –more important now than ever because of the potentially irreversible processes, socially and environmentally – of the effective implementation of the culture of peace. Tomorrow can be late.

3.- Many thanks, dear Ambassador Chowdhury, for your tirelessly efforts in favour of a culture of peace and non-violence. It is completely inacceptable that every day thousands of human beings die of hunger and extreme poverty, while more than 4 billion dollars are invested in armament and military expenditures.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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4.- I must emphasize the relevance of the culture of peace right now, when we see again supremacism, fanaticism, racism… being widespread without an immediate reaction. Have we forgotten what happened because of the exclusion and discrimination of nazism, fascism and Japanese imperial policies, leading to the II World War?

5.- A new concept of security must be adopted, in the context of an efficient reinforcement of the crucial role of the UN System, with the complete elimination of the oligarchic and plutocratic groups (G7, G8, G20), main responsibles of the present lack of multilateral democratic governance in the world.

6.- In the new era, it is urgent the transition from a culture of domination, violence and war to a culture of encounter, dialogue, conciliation, alliance and peace. From force to word, from “para bellum” in the well known dictum “Si vis pacem, para bellum” to “para verbum”, starting with ourselves, with our every day behaviour.

7.- We had today here the leading example of Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace Prize 1992. She knows well the immense and in depth terrible impact of violence and she has given us with her life the best reference of the new ways to overcome hate and aggression… and to share and live together, all different but all united. Her speech this morning has been extremely lucid and courageous. Every dawn we must take it into account.

8.- We have today here as well the Rector of UPEACE, Prof. Francisco Rojas. I wish to thank him for all he is doing to mobilize the academic and scientific communities in favour of a culture of peace. The Earth Charter is one of the main pillars of action of UPEACE.

Dear President, ladies and gentlemen: the first phrase of the UN Charter –“We, the peoples”- was premature in 1945. The human beings were being born, living and dying in some square kilometres. And they were silent, obedient and fearful. But now, “the peoples” know what happens around the world, can express themselves freely and, above all, they are men and women. Now they become world citizens and must be mobilized for the urgent transition from force to word. Now, for the first time in history “the peoples” can take in their hands the reins of the humanity common destiny, and ensure sustainable peace worldwide.

Synopsis of the UN High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace


Statement at the closing of UN High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace on behalf of the President of the UN General Assembly

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the President of the General Assembly, His Excellency, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, I want to thank you for participating in this High-Level Forum.

Our discussions today were very rich. They brought many aspects and issues to the table. And, I will not be able to summarise them in a few minutes.

Instead, I will focus on three areas – which I think came to the fore.

Photo from the Culture of Peace Initiative

I. Sustaining Peace

First, we talked about the state our world is in, when it comes to peace.

And a lot of it was far from positive. Many of you pointed to the changing nature of conflicts. From more interstate violence…… to the proliferation of non-state and terrorist actors.

Others talked about the devastating effects of conflicts in their own countries.

So, we heard about a lot of pain and suffering. But we also listened to many messages of hope. In particular, on the topic of Sustaining Peace.

It was clear that there is wide support for this new approach. And we heard that it can be a credible pathway to a culture of peace.

For example, in Liberia. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country has now closed its doors. And Liberians have turned peace from an objective into a tangible part of daily life.

Also, Colombia was flagged as another example. This country was home to armed conflict for over five decades. But, now, a culture of peace is growing stronger every day.

These achievements were made possible through hard work and sustained investment

– by national actors, regional partners and the international community.
Our discussion showed that the potential of Sustaining Peace is huge. We are already harnessing some of it. But a lot remains untapped.

Many of you argued that certain tools should be used more by the United Nations

– from good offices and mediation support ……to longer-term peacebuilding partnerships. And you pointed to gaps at the regional and national levels.
So, we still have work to do.

II. Coherence Across Pillars

Secondly, I think we acknowledged something important today. Which is: if we want to achieve a culture of peace, we need to look beyond, just, peace.

Many of you stressed the vital role played by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Ms. Rigoberta Menchu told us that inequalities and exclusion can destroy the conditions needed for a culture of peace to thrive. And we heard about how poverty eradication, and inclusive growth, can increase the chances of peace taking hold.

Today’s Forum also placed major emphasis on education. I want to repeat a line from the Constitution of UNESCO, which was quoted today: “Wars begin in the minds of men”.

Of course, wars begin in the minds of both men and women. So, the sooner we can promote peace, in the minds of both men and women, the better. And that means starting from the first days of a child’s education.

Climate change also featured in our Forum. Some of you raised the warning flags. And you told us that the effects of climate change can spark or worsen conflict.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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We also talked about finance. We heard that too much money is flowing towards securitisation and armaments. But not enough is being used to stop conflict at its roots – and invest in drivers of peace. Other delegations argued that illicit financial flows pose a threat to peace and security. And we heard resounding calls for more predictable financing for Sustaining Peace.

Human rights form another issue which came up, again and again, today. We heard speakers and delegates from all over the world call for a human-rights-based approach to both peace and development.

Almost every delegation flagged gender equality as a priority. A culture of peace cannot exist without it. That was clear, before this Forum. But our discussions today have reaffirmed it. Some women are actors of conflict. And many, many others are agents of peace. But all must lead, participate and be counted.

Moreover, an emphasis was placed on young people. Some of you stressed that the vast majority of young people are passionate about peace. So, yes, we do need more action, to prevent young people from joining terrorist groups or mobilising for violence. But we also need far more support for the young people who are out there, on the ground, working for peace.

III. Partnerships

A third theme today was partnerships.

Governments shared some best practices. These ranged from support to the United Nations peacebuilding activities to efforts for national reconciliation or inter-religious dialogue.

Moreover, regional actors featured strongly. We heard a lot about the efforts of regional organisations – from ASEAN and the EU to the African Union- in supporting peacebuilding on the ground.

And we learned about innovative efforts, led by the United Nations, to create partnerships for peace.This includes exciting work by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund to partner with other UN entities and national actors. But we also heard calls for more coherence, across the UN’s work. Various delegations also argued that the ongoing reform of the UN’s Peace and Security Pillar is crucial to creating a culture of peace.

And, there were calls for broader partnerships. Some of you said that the private sector should play a bigger role. Many stressed that think tanks and academic institutions, like the Peace and Justice Institute, are crucial in providing data and research.

And we heard how the media can help to spread messages of peace – particularly among children and young people.

So, in essence, we all agreed that we cannot achieve a culture of peaceon our own.


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I want to thank you all again for taking part in this Forum. Particular thanks must go to Ambassador Chowdhury – for his commitment to this issue.

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.

And, as we look towards it, I want to mention one other message that came from our Forum today.

It was one of humanity.

Today, we all acknowledged our differences.

The understanding of a culture of peace differed from delegation to delegation – and person to person.

There was no uniform definition. Because, there are differences between us – whether based on religion, culture, language, or politics. But they do not need to hold us back.

Humanity can be the foundation of a culture of peace. It can be the bedrock.
Our differences and diversity, however, can give it colour.

So, we look to the 20th anniversary, next year, let’s focus more than ever on our humanity.

Because, it is our guarantee that a culture of peaceis possible.

Thank you.

(Thank you to Anwarul Chowdhury and the GMCOP for sending us this speech)

Angola to pass on peace experience to UNESCO members in Paris


An article from Xinhua Net

The Republic of Angola will convey its experience on the culture of peace and interreligious dialogue during the International Conference on Peace scheduled for Sept. 17-19 at United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris.

Ambassador Sita Jose

Angola’s ambassador to UNESCO, Sita Jose, told the press on Thursday in Luanda that the meeting is an initiative of the permanent delegations to the organization, mainly of the African and Asian continents.

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Question related to this article.

Will UNESCO once again play a role in the culture of peace?

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The event will focus on intercultural and interreligious dialogue and education for a world of peace, harmony and tolerance.

The country will once again have the opportunity to pass on its experience on the role of the church in the process of consolidating peace in partnership with the states, the diplomat said.

The activity will serve as an opportunity of the countries for a profound approach to the contribution of churches in peace-building processes and dialogue among peoples, said the diplomat.

“The aim of the event is to transmit the experiences of the countries in what concerns the promotion of intercultural and interreligious dialogue and the role of education in the consolidation and construction of peace, harmony and community life,” he added.

Angola was asked to intervene, mainly, by its experience in the process of reconciliation and pacification with the contribution of the churches, for the conquest and preservation of peace, according to the diplomat.

Angola experienced a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.