Tag Archives: United Nations

United Nations: More Unified, Early Action Key for Preventing Conflict, Reducing Human Suffering, Speakers Tell Security Council

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An article from the United Nations

The United Nations should explore greater use of conflict prevention and mediation tools enshrined in its founding Charter, speakers told the Security Council today [June 12], as it examined the Organization’s long-standing culture of spending billions of dollars on addressing crises after failing to contain them before they fester.

“When we act early, and are united, we can successfully prevent crises from escalating, saving lives and reducing suffering – fulfilling the most fundamental mandate of the United Nations, as set out in the Preamble to the Charter,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Along with successful constitutional transfers of power in Mali and Madagascar, the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the revitalized agreement in South Sudan have created a sense of renewed hope, he said.  Elsewhere, however, such as Yemen, Syria and Libya, serious challenges remain.  Governments must make full use of the broad range of conflict prevention and resolution tools set out in Chapter VI of the Charter and the Council should use its authority to call on parties to pursue them.

Citing examples of his good offices and those of his envoys to help parties peacefully resolve differences, he said members of his High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation have given discreet counsel to him and his representatives on various political processes.  Mediation advisers on the Standby Team have supported processes in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Papua New Guinea and Syria.  The United Nations has also deepened its strategic and operational partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, with a special focus on Africa.  However, prevention and mediation will not work without broader, more unified political efforts by all States.  “That is the only way to meet our responsibilities to the people we serve,” he emphasized.

Mr. Guterres’ predecessor, Ban Ki-Moon, who is now Deputy Chair of The Elders – a group founded by Nelson Mandela of independent global leaders that promotes peace, justice and human rights – warned that the risk of nuclear conflict is at its highest in decades.  Deeply concerned about the United States’ decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal, he said there is a very real risk that the global arms control and nuclear non-proliferation architecture is in danger of collapse through neglect, hubris and ill-founded threat analysis.  That issue goes to the heart of the Council, whose five permanent members are all nuclear armed States with a unique and heavy responsibility.

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and Chair of The Elders, said the Council should be seen as an instrument of deliverance, a defender of rights and a provider of protection.  “But too often over the decades the Council – and, particularly, its five permanent members – has failed to live up to its responsibilities and has favoured realpolitik or short-term power stratagems rather than meeting the solemn commitments outlined in the United Nations Charter,” she said.  Moreover, insufficient attention has been paid to the role and voice of women on the ground in preventing 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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Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait and Council President for June, speaking in his national capacity, said conflicts today are increasingly complex and intertwined, but they could have been prevented through effective use of such Council tools as Chapter VI, which reaffirms the Council’s preventative role, and Chapter VIII, which encourages the peaceful resolution of local conflicts through regional mechanisms, as well as Article 99 which refers to the Secretary-General’s good offices.  Mediation can save a lot of trouble, sorrow and pain, as well as the billions of dollars spent on peacekeeping operations and humanitarian action.

The representative of the United States, supporting that view, said mediation is an “underappreciated tool” that can save billions of dollars and many lives.  More women should participate, he said, pointing to a study that showed peace agreements are 35 per cent more likely to last for 15 years when women are involved. His own country has been a leader in mediation efforts, he said, citing successes in Northern Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Indonesia’s delegate said the Organization should focus on helping national and regional efforts to peacefully settle disputes, noting that his country and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have relied fundamentally on dialogue and consultation.  Regional entities enjoy unique bonds of history and knowledge, he said, adding that “neighbours know best” and urging the Council to engage such entities from the earliest signs of potential conflict.  Greater funding and more reliable support from the United Nations regular budget should underpin prevention and mediation efforts.

France’s delegate said that greater investment is also needed in post-conflict peacebuilding, including reconciliation, transitional justice and reconstruction to prevent conflict from reoccurring.

The speaker for the Russian Federation warned that conflict prevention is not a panacea and should not be used as a shield for interfering in States’ internal affairs.  The situations in Iraq, Libya and Syria are examples of the consequences of shameless outside intervention, he said, adding that the most successful mediation in Venezuela is being conducted by States that are not taking sides there.  United Nations mediators should be selected on the basis of objective criteria and with respect for regional balance, he stressed.

Also speaking today were representatives of China, United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, Germany, South Africa, Peru, Equatorial Guinea, Poland, Côte d’Ivoire and Belgium.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Bolivia to Foster a Culture of Peace at UN

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An article from Prensa Latina

 Bolivia will be Chair of the First Commission of Disarmament and International Security of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly with the responsibility of building a culture of peace at an international level, the newspaper Cambio pointed out on Monday [June 10].

Bolivia’s permanent representative to the UN, Sacha Llorenti, referred in an interview with Cambio newspaper to the tasks and missions with which he will start his administration.

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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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TAs he explained, the UNA’s First Committee’s mission starts in September. It has been scheduled for just one year, where Bolivia will argue for building a culture of peace, respectful of human rights and Mother Earth, for cordial resolution of disputes and in defense of multilateralism, international law, as well as principles and purposes of the UN Charter.

Cessation of the arms race in terms of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament and preventing such a war are among teh main issues stressed by Llorenti during his term of office..

We will be also working on the implementation of arrangements in relation to conventional weapons, regional disarmament agreements and other measures to guarantee the United Nations fulfills its role in terms of disarmament and international security, he added.

It is about the first time in the history of the UN that Bolivia takes on the chair of the First Committee. In this regard, the Bolivian ambassador highlighted the leadership of President Evo Morales and export models in terms of economic growth, poverty reduction, inequality, recovery of natural resources, fight drug trafficking and peaceful resolution of disputes.

He also harped on that Bolivia is nowadays enjoying an independent and sovereign diplomacy, which along with aforesaid elements allow it to reach leading roles on the international stage, he said.

Many Peaces in Iraq: Creating a Foundation for Conflict Transformation Through Peace Studies

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article by Aala Ali, Adham Hamed & Muntather Hassan from Impakter

“We heard children singing ISIL songs, and saw them role play executions in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp playground. We were distributing humanitarian aid. It was then that I realized, if we don’t do anything about this … a new, more extremist generation will be born,” Ziena, 27 years old.

Ziena graduated from one of six youth-training workshops hosted by UNDP Iraq partner, Iraqi Al-Amal Association, in 2018. Focused on preventing violent extremism (PVE) and conflict transformation, Ziena is one of 146 university students and youth activists who have been supported to carry out creative community-based activities in their universities and local communities.


In the Photo: IDP Camp Children with Song Book. Photo Credit: Iraqi Al-Amal/2019

Struck by her own experience in an IDP Camp, Ziena created a children’s songbook; filled with words of peace and ideas that support a non- discriminative, gender equal, and non-violent future for Iraq. Each page of the book is decorated with the artwork of IDP children, which today, Ziena and her team of volunteers take to IDP camps to share. She hopes that music and song will guide these children toward a culture of peace and a future free from divisive ideologies.

But, whilst her story is heartwarming and her hands are those working to directly mend the hearts of conflict-affected communities, Ziena is addressing just one layer of conflict in Iraq’s peace-building process. She is instrumental in building a bridge between academic ideas and concepts required to frame a new culture of peace in Iraq, and the tangible actions made in her community, where she encounters survivors of conflict every day. Both aspects are necessary, and indeed complimentary, but there is another layer which is critical to ensuring sustainability of peace in Iraq — the structures that enable peace. For this, the active engagement of the government is crucial.

Recognizing the complexity of this task, the UNDP-funded project, Education for Peace in the Iraqi Higher Education System,” implemented by national NGO Iraqi Al-Amal Association  and the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck’s Unit for Peace and Conflict Studies, is designed to address all three levels of conflict — grass-roots, middle and high-level — through a combination of community level programming, curriculum development with the Iraqi Universities Consortium for Peace Studies and government engagement through the  Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research (MOHESR).

Between October 2018 and March 2019, this culminated in the development of the first national Diploma for Peace and Conflict Studies, which will be piloted at the University of Baghdad later this year. Such an endeavor required an in-depth reflection about the potential meanings of peace and the impact of different notions of peace in the Iraqi context.

Defining Peace

UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) calls for the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development — providing justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. In the same vein, on the International Day of Peace 2018, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated, “There is more to achieving peace than laying down our weapons.”

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.

So, what are the potential meanings of peace beyond the absence of war and direct violence? The preamble of the UNESCO constitution provides a helpful reference point: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” Such an understanding of peace opens up a possibility to think about the idea of peace beyond a single universal notion that could be applied in all places and all times, regardless of the respective socio-political and cultural circumstances.

Wolfgang Dietrich, UNESCO Chairholder for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck, proposed the idea of “many peaces;” a concept that suggests that there are as many interpretations of peace as there are human beings in the world. This perspective provides an alternative avenue to universalist notions of how peace ought to be. By contrast it introduces a human-centered approach that puts people and the diversity of their lived experiences at the center of conflict transformation work. In the Iraqi context, which has long experienced external interventions, this makes the radical shift of agency to Iraqi citizens, who are now considered the central agents for formulating their own understandings of peace.

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Question related to this article:

A culture of peace in Iraq, Is it possible?

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Conflict and Violence in Iraq

From the first Gulf War and the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein, to the 2003 invasion, the subsequent 8-year Iraq war and ISIL’s occupation between 2014-2017, it is no surprise that the scars of war and conflict have marred the economic and social development potential of Iraq, despite its considerable oil resources. In 2017, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace, the economic impact of violence on the global economy was 14.76 trillion US Dollars or the equivalent of 12.4% of the global GDPBeyond Conflict Resolution

If it were the case that families, communities and societies could be fixed like the engine of a broken car, narrowly focusing on the material aspects of conflict might be a sufficient response. However, human relationships are more complex than the mechanistic qualities of an engine and they are not always rational, with messy human traits tied up in our experience, including crucial sexual, emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions that all constitute a part of human existence.

All of these aspects contribute to the tangible costs of conflict, and using short-term solutions alone to address them will only temporarily suppress conflict — with a strong likelihood that it will appear again, somewhere new. This is why, beyond the idea of simple conflict resolution, a more comprehensive approach to conflict transformation needs to put the relationships of people living and surviving in protracted conflicts at the center of a journey toward peaceful communities.

We know from experience that conflict transformation processes require years, decades or even generations, in the case of large-scale violence. The concept of the “200-years present,” first introduced by sociologist Elise Boulding, explains how an experience of violence will continue to resonate in subsequent generations, through the trans-generational dimensions of trauma. Which is why episodes of violence, such as those experienced during ISIL’s occupation of Iraq, will likely affect the relatives of survivors and witnesses for many years to come.

Hence, while immediate interventions for peace are necessary to address the material dimensions of conflict, such as reconstruction, it is equally crucial to consider the mid and long-term processes of relational work through trauma healing and peace education. This is not only much more cost-effective than investing in further securitization and militarization, but it also opens up the possibility for long-term change processes through the education sector, strengthened to provide platforms for peace. Peace education provides a possibility to think about “many peaces” and conflict transformation as a means of addressing personal and collective challenges that remain deeply ingrained in families, communities and societies moved by the experiences of war and violence. It’s an approach that in the spirit of the UNESCO Constitution starts with the human mind as a central resource for defending peace. And, from experience we know that this may not only contribute to the prevention of further outbreaks of direct violence but that it’s actually a means of transforming cultures of violence to cultures of peaces; equipping people with alternative and effective tools to transform their conflicts peacefully, such as dialogue, and mediation.

Peace education can also be used to help people develop their own ways of living and fostering cultures of peace, and to avoid the belief that their reality is directed by external forces. In Iraq there is a widespread belief that violent conflict is merely imposed by foreigners. This sense is built up from the community level and challenges the notion that people were living in peace before foreign intervention. Whilst we can recognise that there are many external factors contributing to instability in Iraq, we also see how this recognition is used as a strategy to avoid personal responsibility and agency, limiting the possibility of addressing conflict from within one’s own context. Avoiding agency frequently occurs as part of a denial phase after trauma. However, the inclusive, and elicitive approaches in peace education can facilitate ownership for Iraqis, enabling them to take forward this type of peace work and enhancing their level of responsibility on foundational issues.

A Catalyst for Change

The development of a national pilot curriculum for a “Diploma of Peace and Conflict Studies” is an intervention that has come after many years of armed conflict. At the beginning of this project, promoting peace education in the Iraqi higher education sector was the goal, but how can you continue academic life in a context marked by war, where lecture halls and libraries have been destroyed or burnt to the ground? And beyond material damage and destruction: How do you continue academic work and life in a meaningful way after experiencing the kind of atrocities that put all meaning of life into question?

Whilst the circumstances in post-ISIL Iraq are in many ways different from the political, cultural and social situation in Europe post-World War II, there are also certain parallels. Most strikingly we see a new-found momentum to establish a foundation of Peace and Conflict Studies as an academic discipline — and a recognition that the neighboring discipline of International Relations, founded after World War I, was largely unsuccessful in finding the answers to prevent genocide and the use of weapons of mass-destruction. This had a direct effect on the development of a broad range of applied conflict transformation methods, which have been of utmost use for transforming conflicts in a non-violent manner, and which, with the right methodologies, may achieve positive results in Iraq too. This consideration was at the heart of the “Education for Peace in the Iraqi Higher Education System” project. But why academia? Because Iraqi academics have collectively demonstrated a desire to actively contribute to national reconciliation, with a strong will to work together to address the questions of peace and conflict transformation through establishing Peace and Conflict Studies as a new discipline in Iraq.

This culminated in the formation of The Iraqi Universities Consortium for Peace Studies, between 2016-2017, with support from Iraqi Al-Amal, UNDP Iraq and Eastern Mennonite University. The Consortium — comprised of academics from the Universities of Baghdad, Tikrit, Anbar, Basra, Karbala, Kufa and Mosul — became a vocal advocate for the development of Peace Studies in a post-conflict Iraq and actively participated in capacity building activities to train academics and in-turn contribute to the development of a context appropriate curriculum.

Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia laureate of the 2019 edition of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny – UNESCO Peace Prize

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An article from UNESCO

Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is named as laureate of the 2019 edition of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize for his actions in the region and, in particular, for having been the instigator of a peace agreement between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The jury also recognizes the laureate’s worthiness for the reforms undertaken to consolidate democracy and social cohesion. Finally, the jury considers this distinction as an encouragement to pursue his commitment to the promotion of a culture of peace in the region and across the African continent.

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(Click here for a Spanish version of the article or here for a version in French.)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

Can peace be achieved between Ethiopia and Eritrea?

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The Jury met on 29 April at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris to designate the laureate of the 2019 edition of the prize, which will mark the 30th anniversary of its inception.

The jury was composed of Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Laureate (2011), Mr François Hollande, Former President of France, Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan of Jordan – UNESCO Special Envoy for science for peace, Mr Michel Camdessus (France) – Former Director General of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Professor Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh), founder of Grameen Bank – Nobel Peace Laureate (2006) and Mr. Forest Whitaker (United States of America), founder of the Peace and Development Initiative.

In 1989, in order to pay tribute to President Félix Houphouet-Boigny’s action for peace in the world, 120 countries sponsored a resolution unanimously adopted by UNESCO’s Member States to establish the  Félix Houphouët-Boigny Prize – UNESCO Peace Prize. The Prize is intended to honor living individuals and active public or private institutions or bodies that have made a significant contribution to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining peace in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution of UNESCO.

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on an official visit to Ethiopia on 2 and 3 May on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, will meet with the Prime Minister and convey her warm congratulations.

Panafrican Youth Network for the Culture of Peace  Gabon : The work begins

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An article from Gabon Review

Weeks after its election and the official presentation of the new officers to the Resident Representative of Unesco, the National Co-ordination of the Panafrican Youth Network for the Culture of Peace (PAYNCoP Gabon) unveiled its roadmap. The different actions to be carried out over the next two years are listed there.


Photo © PAYNCoP Gabon

Chaired by Vincenzo Fazzino, Resident Representative of Unesco, a meeting was held on April 24 in Libreville between the new PAYNCoP Gabon team and the UN system leaders in the country. Its purpose was to present the latter with the recent road map developed by the pan-African organization coordinated by Jerry Bibang, in order to “gather the opinions and orientations” of the various actors in the field. For PAYNCoP Gabon, it was also a question of reinforcing the partnership with the UN system in Gabon and to allow a better collaboration, especially in the promotion of the culture of peace and non-violence.

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( Click here for the French original..)

 

Question related to this article.

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

Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

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According to the national coordination of PAYNCop Gabon, the roadmap presented to the heads of the United Nations system is an “action plan [which] provides for four strategic axes, including the popularization of PAYNCoP, the promotion of a culture of peace, the appropriation of Resolution 2250 (youth, peace and security) and the transformation of PAYNCoP into a social enterprise “.

“Recognizing that the promotion of the culture of peace is also about the fight against unemployment and the economic empowerment of young people, our fourth axis has the specific objectives of training young people in social entrepreneurship and the implementation of projects. community development. Also, we are planning the creation of income generating activities to effectively encourage the financial independence of young people, “says the organization.

For the implementation of this roadmap, the National Coordinator of PAYNCoP Gabon has called for the intervention of professionals from various sectors of activity, such as education, higher education, communication, communication and communication. culture and politics. “Everyone has a role to play in this challenge,” said Jerry Bibang, not without remembering that the roadmap presented by the office in his charge “is part of the logical continuation of the work started by [its ] predecessors “. This, says the organization, “covers a period of two years (2019-2021) and takes into account the key issues of youth in peace and security at the national level.”

For PAYNCoP Gabon, “peace is not limited to the absence of war [but] involves other things as well, including social justice, respect for human rights, democracy, fight against poverty, etc.”

UNCSW63’s positive outcomes for women’s human rights to social protection systems, quality public services, including education, and sustainable infrastructure

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from Education International

The women workers’ delegation, including education unionists, welcomes the Agreed Conclusions of the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which includes positive language on education and social protection systems.

Key gains on gender and education

The Agreed Conclusions  of the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW63), reached on 22 March, have borne satisfying results concerning gender and education:

* There are three strong references to education in the preamble paragraphs

Educational spaces are specifically mentioned among the list of key sites that require action and attention on sexual harassment. There is a specific mention of early childhood education as “crucial in enabling women to enter and remain in the labour market”.  The wide ranging, multi-layered and most pernicious gender-based barriers to the right to education for girls are also highlighted.

* Strong call on governments to strengthen normative, legal and policy frameworks,

There is explicit reference to the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by disabled women and girls, and indigenous women and girls (including in relation to education), especially for those living in rural areas.

Governments are urged to “adopt national gender-responsive migration policies and legislation, in line with relevant obligations under international law, to protect the human rights of all migrant women and girls, regardless of migration status, and to recognise their skills and education”.

A key gain for women in education is the call on governments to eliminate occupational segregation by addressing “structural barriers, gender stereotypes and negative social norms, promoting women’s equal access to and participation in labour markets and in education and training, supporting women so as to diversify their educational and occupational choices in emerging fields and growing economic sectors, such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics and information and communications technology, recognising the value of sectors that have large numbers of women workers”.

* Strengthening public services for women and girls

A key paragraph in the document calls for investment in public education systems and infrastructure, free and compulsory primary and secondary education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all. It also stipulates that governments should “address negative social norms and gender stereotypes in education systems, including in curricula and teaching methodologies, that devalue girls’ education and prevent women and girls from having access to, completing and continuing their education”.

Another important explicit reference is made to pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers and single mothers, with a call for governments to adopt policies that would facilitate their successful return to, and completion of, education.

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(Click here for a French version of this article or here for a Spanish version.)

Questions 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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Key gains on social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure

The women unionists’ delegation also successfully lobbied for the inclusion of progressive languageconcerning social protection systems and access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. These included: references to the importance of International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards and the decent work agenda; measures to strengthen protections for informal economy workers and promote their formalisation; ensuring that unpaid care work is valued in contributory schemes; guaranteeing access to paid maternity, paternity and parental leave; promoting shared responsibility of care between parents; and acknowledgement that universal access to social protection plays a central role in reducing inequality, as well as emphasis on the need to make progress towards universal health care.

Governments, for the first time, recognised the right to social security—including universal access to social protection—and that women’s access to social protection is often restricted when tied to formal employment. The Agreed Conclusions acknowledge that budget cuts and austerity measures undermine women’s access to social protection, public services, and sustainable infrastructure, particularly in the areas of health and education. They also recognise the link between gender-responsive social protection and the prevention of gender-based violence. And, crucially, committed to providing public sector workers with living wages.

An ongoing struggle

The women workers’ delegation, including the EI delegation, will, however, still have to continue efforts for specific reference to, and inclusion of, LGBTIQ+ women and girls in the UNCSW outcome document in 2020.

Some demands were also not met, such as references to survivors’ benefits, stronger language around the ratification of ILO Conventions,  and an emphasis on the need for contributory and non-contributory social protection systems

Despite significant gains, challenges remain to realise the full human rights of women, in all their diversity, as the press release from the women’s rights caucus at UNCSW  stressed. Of significant concern was the removal of service provisions for survivors of violence—a development that is out of step with the growing awareness and action to reduce and eliminate the prevalence and consequences of gender-based violence against women. Member States also failed to commit to integrating sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression into the design of social protection, public services, and infrastructure systems. The Agreed Conclusions also demonstrated the unwillingness of governments to regulate and hold the private sector accountable for its responsibility to uphold women’s human rights.

At this crucial moment, UNCSW must continue to involve the vital voices of civil society in their deliberations and strengthen the potential of these negotiations to continue the practice of consensus-based advancement of women’s human rights.

A critical occurrence at the end of the first week of UNCSW63 was the thousands, if not millions, of young people across the world who took to the street to march and rally for climate justice, including outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The labour delegation at UNCSW63 marched in solidarity with the students.

(Thank you to the Good News Agency for suggesting this article.)

Women must be at ‘centre of peacekeeping decision-making’, UN chief tells Security Council

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from United Nations News

Women’s rights, voices and participation must be at “the centre of peacekeeping decision-making”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council on Thursday [April 11], describing them as “central to sustainable solutions” to challenges facing the Organization worldwide.


UN Secretary-General briefs the Security Council on women in peacekeeping operations, 11 April 2019. (UN Photo/Manuel Elias)

Through its landmark resolution 1325  on women and peace and security, the Council reaffirmed the participation and involvement of women, which the UN chief hailed  as “a key element in the maintenance of international peace and security”. He also noted the UN’s “essential system-wide effort” to enhance women’s representation at all levels and in all arenas, through his Strategy on Gender Parity.

“This is not just a question of numbers, but also of our effectiveness in fulfilling our mandates”, he stated, citing evidence that more women peacekeepers lead to more credible protection responses that meet the needs of all.

In patrol units women can better access intelligence to provide a holistic view of security challenges, and at checkpoints they promote a less confrontational atmosphere, he said.

Within troop contingents they lower incidences of sexual exploitation and abuse; yield greater reporting of sexual and gender-based violence; and can access local women’s networks, leading to more inclusive peace processes.

‘Step towards parity’

The Secretary-General thanked the more than 150 Member States who have signed on to his Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, which calls for women’s participation in every stage of peace operations, and integrates a gender perspective into all analysis, planning, implementation and reporting.

And he was grateful to the States who, at last week’s Ministerial on Peacekeeping, launched the Elsie Initiative  to break down barriers to increasing women’s participation in peace operations.

In support of the UN’s commitments in these areas, Mr. Guterres noted a range of actions, including the Gender-Responsive Peacekeeping Operations Policy, which “commits us to promoting leadership and accountability both for gender equality and for the women, peace and security agenda”.

Flagging that since December 2015, the number of women in uniform has increased by only around one per cent, he spelled out that “this is clearly not enough”.

“This year”, he informed the Chamber, “we rolled out the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy ”, which, among other things, targets by 2028 a range of 15 to 35 per cent of women’s representation, including military, police and justice and corrections personnel.

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Question for this article:

UN Resolution 1325, does it make a difference?

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While acknowledging that it “has been more challenging”, Mr. Guterres vowed “to press ahead”, adding that “keep on track, we need assistance from you, the Member States”.

He asked for a greater focus on women in battalions and formed police units and for the sustained recruitment and deployment of women within national services.

Noting that for the first time in UN history the senior leadership is close to achieving gender parity, Mr. Guterres reiterated his commitment to sustaining that progress: “We need to bring the same spirit to our peace operations”, he stressed. “This is crucial for our effectiveness, credibility and reputation”. 

‘Pushing gender equality’

The first female Force Commander and current Head of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) mission, Major General Kristin Lund told the Council  that the “momentum of pushing gender equality must be kept”.

As Force Commander of the UN mission in Cyprus, she teamed up with Lisa Buttenheim, the Special Representative at the time. “For once I did not need to convince my boss that gender was important” she said. “Both of us had gender equality in our spine”.

The Major General enumerated some examples of her work in increasing the number of women, helping them in missions and reaching out to local communities.

Noting many reasons why the armed forces have a difficulty keeping women in the ranks, she outlined frequent obstacles thrown up by male culture in military settings, giving the example of how “posters with half naked women” hang in mission gyms.

“How many women do gym in bikinis?” Ms. Lund asked rhetorically, saying that under her command in Cyprus “womanized posters vanished”.

She also mandated that the all-male teams in military skills competitions had to have females.

“Gender is on the top of my agenda”, she said, adding that she initiated a female military network, engaged women to become more visible and increased the number of female observers.

Troop and police contributing countries “must do more” she said.

“We, out in the field, need to be able to reach out to the whole society. Only you can make that happen”, the Force Commander concluded.

Diversity is a strength

Chairing the meeting, German Federal Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen said: “Women are no better peacekeepers than men, but they are different. And this diversity is a strength”.

Pointing out that Resolution 1325 has been in effect for almost 20 years, she maintained that it is “still far from full, effective and meaningful participation of women in peace operations”.

To change that, Ms. von der Leyen suggested, among other things, to have successful female mentors to share their stories to younger women; have more women in national forces for deployment to international peacekeeping missions; and assess national barriers that keeps more women from joining peace operations.

“The peacekeeper’s blue helmet symbolizes protection and security”, she said. “Let us make this helmet be worn by more women. For the sake of peace”.

UN experts warn Assange arrest exposes him to risk of serious human rights violations

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An article from the United Nations News

Independent UN rights experts on Thursday [April 11] said the arrest of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange by police in the United Kingdom, after the Ecuadorian Government decided to stop granting him asylum in their London embassy, exposed him to “the risk of serious human rights violations”, if extradited to the United States.


Press Briefing by Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. (UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, Agnes Callamard, tweeted that in “expelling Assange from the Embassy” and allowing his arrest, it had taken Mr. Assange “one step closer to extradition”. She added that the UK had now arbitrarily-detained the controversial anti-secrecy journalist and campaigner, “possibly endangering his life”.

Mr. Assange took refuge inside the embassy in 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden by the UK authorities where he faced charges, since dropped, of sexual assault. But he also faces US federal conspiracy charges, relating to the leak of a vast number of Government documents to his Wikileaks website, by the former US intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning. The US argues that publication by the investigative site, endangered the lives of its citizens working overseas.

According to reports, the UK will now assess whether to extradite the Australian national to the US, where he faces up to five years in prison. The UK has reportedly given assurances in writing to the Ecuadorian Government that Mr. Assange will not be extradited to a country where he could face torture, or the death penalty.

After appearing in a central London courtroom on Thursday, Mr. Assange was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court in 2012, and now faces up to 12 months in prison.

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Question related to this article:
 
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

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The UN independent expert on the right to privacy, Joe Cannataci, issued a statement following the arrest, saying that “this will not stop my efforts to assess Mr. Assange’s claims that his privacy has been violated. All it means is that, instead of visiting Mr Assange and speaking to him at the Embassy…I intend to visit him and speak to him wherever he may be detained.”

In a statement last Friday, Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said he was alarmed by reports that an arrest was imminent, and that if extradited, Mr. Assange could be exposed to “a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial, and the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

UK urged to ‘abide by international obligations’

Last December, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, urged the UK to “abide by its international obligations” and allow Mr. Assange safe passage out of the embassy.
“States that are based upon, and promote the rule of law, do not like to be confronted with their own violations of the law, that is understandable. But when they honestly admit these violations, they do honour the very spirit of the rule of law, earn enhanced respect for doing so, and set worldwide commendable examples,” said a statement released by the Working Group.

In December 2015, the Working Group concluded in its opinion No. 54/2015  that Mr. Assange – who at the time had a European arrest warrant issued against him for an allegation of crimes committed in Sweden ‑ was being arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released.

“Under international law, pre-trial detention must be only imposed in limited instances. Detention during investigations must be even more limited, especially in the absence of any charge” said the experts. “The Swedish investigations have been closed for over 18 months now, and the only ground remaining for Mr. Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post facto justify the more than 6 years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador.”

“Mr. Assange should be able to exercise his right to freedom of movement in an unhindered manner, in accordance with the human rights conventions the UK has ratified,” the experts added.

New UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration offers unparalleled opportunity for job creation, food security and addressing climate change

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A press release from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, declared today [March 1] by the UN General Assembly, aims to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems as a proven measure to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity.


Preparing trees for planting at a nursery in Senegal.

The degradation of land and marine ecosystems undermines the well-being of 3.2 billion people and costs about 10 per cent of the annual global gross product in loss of species and ecosystems services. Key ecosystems that deliver numerous services essential to food and agriculture, including supply of freshwater, protection against hazards and provision of habitat for species such as fish and pollinators, are declining rapidly.

“We are pleased that our vision for a dedicated Decade has become reality,” said Lina Pohl, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador, a regional restoration leader. “We need to promote an aggressive restoration program that builds resilience, reduces vulnerability and increases the ability of systems to adapt to daily threats and extreme events.”

Restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 could generate USD 9 trillion in ecosystem services and take an additional 13-26 gigatons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

“The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will help countries race against the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss,” said José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). “Ecosystems are being degraded at an unprecedented rate. Our global food systems and the livelihoods of many millions of people depend on all of us working together to restore healthy and sustainable ecosystems for today and the future.”

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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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“UN Environment and FAO are honored to lead the implementation of the Decade with our partners,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme. “The degradation of our ecosystems has had a devastating impact on both people and the environment. We are excited that momentum for restoring our natural environment has been gaining pace because nature is our best bet to tackle climate change and secure the future.”

The Decade, a global call to action, will draw together political support, scientific research and financial muscle to massively scale up restoration from successful pilot initiatives to areas of millions of hectares. Research shows that more than two billion hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded landscapes offer potential for restoration.

The Decade will accelerate existing global restoration goals, for example the Bonn Challenge, which aims to restore 350 million hectares of degraded ecosystems by 2030 – an area almost the size of India. Currently, 57 countries, subnational governments and private organizations have committed to bring over 170 million hectares under restoration. This endeavour builds on regional efforts such as the Initiative 20×20 in Latin America that aims to restore 20 million hectares of degraded land by 2020, and the AFR100 African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative that aims to bring 100 million hectares of degraded land under restoration by 2030.

Ecosystem restoration is defined as a process of reversing the degradation of ecosystems, such as landscapes, lakes and oceans to regain their ecological functionality; in other words, to improve the productivity and capacity of ecosystems to meet the needs of society. This can be done by allowing the natural regeneration of overexploited ecosystems, for example, or by planting trees and other plants.

Ecosystem restoration is fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, mainly those on climate change, poverty eradication, food security, water and biodiversity conservation. It is also a pillar of international environmental conventions, such as the Ramsar Convention on wetlands and the Rio Conventions on biodiversity, desertification and climate change.

Currently, about 20 per cent of the planet’s vegetated surface shows declining trends in productivity with fertility losses linked to erosion, depletion and pollution in all parts of the world. By 2050 degradation and climate change could reduce crop yields by 10 per cent globally and by up to 50 per cent in certain regions.     

UN event: Women’s Equality and Empowerment Advances the Culture of Peace

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

Concept note from calendar of side events of the Commission on the Status of Women published by UN Women

Meeting date: March 21st, 2019 | Time: 10.00 AM to 11.15 AM
Venue: Conference Room-A, UNHQs

The United Nations came into being at the end of the devastating World War II as a forum for resolving conflicts peacefully between nations and for promoting sustainable peace and development in all parts of the world. Over the years, the UN has discussed many ways and means to reach its broader objectives of peace, human rights and sustainable development. For that, its Member States have agreed on some consensus frameworks and instruments to promote human rights and sustainable peace. One such remarkable instrument is UN General Assembly’s decision on the concept of “Culture of Peace” taken in 1999. Year 2019 will observe the 20th anniversary of that landmark decision.


Photo of event from Bangladesh News USA

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. These famous words were codified in UNESCO’s constitution and defined the mandate that peace not only is the absence of armed conflict or war. After nine-months long intense negotiations among all UN Member States, on 13 September 1999, the General Assembly adopted, by consensus and without reservation, the seminal resolution 53/243 on the ‘Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace’ [that had been drafted and submitted by UNESCO – editor’s note].

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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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The Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace tried to provide a pathway following which international community could develop a mindset and modes of behaviour that will not allow conflict, violence and hatred to undermine the overarching goals of sustainable peace. Developing a culture of peace requires a positive, dynamic participatory process where dialogue is encouraged among various stakeholders, to find out root causes of conflicts and through mediation and moderation as well as in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, solve those conflicts to advance peace. An essential foundation of the culture of peace is inclusivity, equality and solidarity of all peoples, races, religions, class, and importantly, gender. Gender inequality, conflict and fragility are key challenges to sustainable peace. Peace is inextricably linked to equality between women and men. Women’s equality and empowerment is, therefore, critical to advancing the culture of peace.

This very idea resonates both in General Assembly and the Security Council. In 2000, the important role of women in peace and security was emphasized in the Council’s Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325) which asked for full and equal involvement of women at all levels for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. Today, despite the consensus agreement by the international community, women still face many challenges and inequalities that prevent their representation and participation in all stages of life.

Women bring a new breadth, quality and balance of vision to our common efforts to move away from the cult of war and towards the culture of peace. Increasing gender equality has positive effects on food security, extremism, health, education and numerous other key global concerns. Women’s equality makes our planet safe and secure. Empowering women and girls and strengthening gender equality prepare the foundation of inclusive societies, sustainable peace and development. Greater involvement of women in decision making be it in conflict or peace time will bring different perspectives and priorities than men thereby changing the nature of the dialogue, an essential element in advancing the culture of peace.

Objectives

– Discuss experiences and lessons learned on empowering women in all stages of socio-economic and political lives;

– Identify challenges that prevent women from engaging and participating in processes hindering their social inclusion;

– Discuss the role and contribution of women in promoting the culture of peace;