Tag Archives: United Nations

Following peace deal, talks on Libya’s political future begin

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from UN News

Talks to draw up a blueprint for a new political era in Libya began in Tunisia on Monday [November 9], following a peace deal struck by Libya’s warring sides last month [See CPNN October 17]


(Click on image to enlarge)

“You have gathered today to continue forging a new era of peace and stability for Libya. You have the opportunity to end a tragic conflict and create a future of dignity and hope”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message to participants of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum.

“Now it is your turn to shape the future of your country. Your commitment to this process will help restore Libyan sovereignty and the democratic legitimacy of Libyan institutions. As you engage in dialogue to resolve your differences, your determination will be tested.

Future ‘is now in your hands’

“However, compromise is the only approach that will pave the road to national unity”, he said. “The future of Libya is now in your hands.”

Tunisian President Qais Said, opening the meeting, said the talks would lead to a new legitimacy for Libya.

The country has been beset by chaos and conflict since the downfall of long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, culminating in a civil war and the siege of the Libyan capital Tripoli which began in April last year.

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Question for this article:

What is being done for peace in Libya?

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The head of the UN mission in Libya, Stephanie Williams, told the meeting that it was a time of rare optimism, a glimmer of hope after many years of crisis.

New national vote

“The overriding aim of the National Political Programme is to renew political legitimacy by holding national elections, within an agreed timeframe”, she said.

Acting UN Special Representative Williams presided over a breakthrough peace agreement between five senior commanders from either side, at a meeting in Geneva last month. She arrived at the political talks in Tunis fresh from another successful round of military negotiations in the Libyan city of Ghadames, she said.

“Every day cooperation is increasing, and the transformation of the 5+5 into the ‘group of 10’ is more than just a slogan; it is a reality”, Ms. Williams said.

“The new government will launch national reconciliation, combat corruption, and restore public services. Its progress will be monitored; its work will be reviewed on a regular basis by mechanisms that can hold it to account.”

Executive body

In a statement released late on Sunday, Ms. Williams said that over the past two days she had been taking note of the participants’ suggestions about what the political talks should aim to achieve, including the creation of an executive authority capable of organizing elections and implementing the political, economic and military reforms necessary to bring some normalcy back to Libyans’ lives.

The participants had stressed the importance of designing a thorough roadmap for the political process and to develop a national charter based on the principles of accountability, justice and human rights and a firm commitment to a civilian state.

I am Generation Equality: Ixchel Lucas, youth advocate for girls’ leadership

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from UN Women

I am Generation Equality because…

Adolescent and young girls should have the space and opportunity to lead without fear of discrimination or violence.

I was selected by my peers to represent my class and organize students when I was seven. I liked having the opportunity to express my opinion and to participate in social and cultural events. Over time, I started raising awareness about the challenges that adolescent and young girls face in Guatemala, where I am from. More of our voices should be heard.


Ixchel Lucas. Photo: Las Niñas Lideran
Stepping up during the global pandemic

Even before COVID-19 hit, the situation was difficult for girls and women. In many places, women are still not allowed to speak up. Food is served first to boys and men, and the best pieces of food are reserved for them.

The challenges young girls face in Guatemala have worsened during COVID-19. Lack of access to the Internet, smart phones and computers is hampering their access to education. Additionally, girls are facing increased domestic violence and have been forced to continue living with their abusers, and support services are limited. As a result, we are seeing an increase in teenage pregnancies and maternal and child mortality – particularly in the rural areas, where there is a marked lack of access to proper healthcare.

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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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I had the opportunity to raise these issues during a high-level meeting  of the UN General Assembly on behalf of other young girls. Governments should invest more in supporting us by increasing healthcare services, enhancing services to survivors of violence and increasing access to education.

What keeps me going is that I have seen that [when given a platform] we can achieve.

I am part of the “Las Niñas Lideran” (Girls Lead) organization and following our advocacy work a few years ago, our municipality, Concepción Chiquirichapa adopted a new policy covering education, health, protection, participation and culture. The municipality held education fairs with multiple schools, providing children and adolescents with information on HIV, teenage pregnancy, girls’ leadership and more. There were also numerous cultural activities led by adolescent girls, [to raise awareness of] and mitigate the risk of rising suicide among adolescent girls. .

Society has a lot to learn from adolescent and young girls, as we see problems through very different lens.

* * * * *

Ixchel María José Lucas Adolfo, 21, is the Training Coordinator at Las Niñas Lideran in Guatemala and a youth leader in the Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence. She is also currently studying Physiotherapy. The Action Coalitions are global, innovative partnerships with governments, civil society, international organizations, and the private sector, convened in the context of the Generation Equality Forum. They aim to catalyze collective action, drive increased public and private investment, and deliver game-changing results for women and girls everywhere..

UN Member States Make Recommendations to U.S. to Protect Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

An article from the Center for Reproductive Rights

United Nations Member States from around the world yesterday [November 9] strongly recommended to the United States that it act to protect sexual and reproductive rights and ensure access to sexual and reproductive health care and services.

The recommendations came during the U.S.’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which takes place for each country before the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) every four years. At the interactive review in Geneva, all UN Member States can ask questions and make recommendations to the nation under review.

Recommendations given to the U.S. ranged from improving equitable access to reproductive health care and services and addressing maternal mortality, to ending restrictions on international aid for sexual and reproductive health services and improving access to basic health services for migrants and refugees in detention.

“The Trump administration has curtailed access to reproductive health care globally and systematically undermined affordable access to reproductive health care within the U.S.,” said Risa Kaufman, the Center’s Director, U.S. Human Rights. “Its policies have caused extraordinary harm to people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQI people, immigrants, people who are low-income or living in poverty, and people who are incarcerated.”

Kaufman added, “These UPR recommendations offer a clear roadmap for the incoming Biden administration to reverse course and ensure access to reproductive health care for all, including access to safe and respectful maternal health care and abortion care. The Biden administration has an immediate opportunity to make clear its commitment to advancing reproductive rights as human rights, in the United States and around the world.”

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Question related to this article:

Can the United Nations protect human rights in its Member States?

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In preparation for the November 9 UPR, the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners submitted a stakeholder report  requesting Member States to urge the U.S. to improve its human rights record in the area of reproductive rights and health.

At the UPR, Member States urged the U.S. to:
* Ensure and improve equitable access to sexual and reproductive health care and services, with particular focus on people experiencing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.
* Ensure that laws allowing for refusals of care (such as for religious objections) do not restrict access to health care.
* End restrictions that prevent U.S. international aid from going toward sexual and reproductive health—for example, by ending the Global Gag Rule and stripping the Helms Amendment from upcoming spending bills.
* Address maternal mortality. The U.S. has one of the highest rates among wealthy nations, and it disproportionately affects Black and Indigenous women.
* Ensure universal maternal health care.
* Rescind Title X regulations that forbid publicly funded clinics from providing information about abortion services.
* Improve access to basic services for migrants and guarantee human rights for migrants and refugees in detention.
* Ensure accessible health care and enjoyment of the right to health for all.

The official report memorializing the review and resulting recommendations will shortly be available to the public on the UN’s website. 

The Center led a strong coalition effort  to ensure that reproductive health, rights, and justice issues were on the agenda for the UPR, including through the stakeholder report, a briefing for UN diplomats, and additional advocacy. This advocacy centered on the disproportionate harms experienced by marginalized communities.

Although the Trump administration represented the U.S. in this review, it is the Biden administration that will be responsible for returning to the Human Rights Council when the Council formally adopts the report in March 2021. At that time, the Biden administration will formally recognize and respond to each of the recommendations.

Red Cross : Nuclear ban: “Today is an historic day. We call on world leaders to act with courage and join the right side of history”

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A press release from  The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

October 24. Fifty States have now ratified the Treaty, meaning that it will enter into force as an instrument of international humanitarian law in 90 days. The Treaty is the first globally applicable multilateral agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons. It prohibits their use, threat of use, development, production, testing and stockpiling. It also commits States to clearing contaminated areas and helping victims. By providing pathways for the elimination of nuclear weapons, the TPNW is an indispensable building block towards a world free of nuclear weapons


Photo: ICRC

Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said:

“Today is an historic day: even a few years ago, the dream of a nuclear ban recognized by the international community seemed unfathomable. This is a victory for every citizen of the world, and it demonstrates the importance of multilateralism. I would like to congratulate all 50 States that have ratified the treaty and to call on all the other world leaders to act with courage and join the right side of history.

“The simple reality is that the international community could never hope to deal with the consequences of a nuclear confrontation. No nation is prepared to deal with a nuclear confrontation. What we cannot prepare for, we must prevent”, Mr Rocca said.

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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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There are over 14,000 nuclear bombs in the world, thousands of which are ready to be launched in an instant. The power of many of those warheads are tens of times greater than the weapons dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said :

“Today is a victory for humanity, and a promise of a safer future. Too many times we have seen the dangerous logic of nuclear deterrence drag the world to the brink of destruction. Too many accept nuclear weapons as an inevitable part of the international security architecture. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons allows us to imagine a world free from such inhumane weapons as an achievable goal.”

Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders have over the past years advocated with government leaders, parliamentarians, academics and with the public to reflect in depth on the humanitarian consequences of Nuclear weapons and the need to have a legally binding commitment for their prohibition and in the long term for their elimination. They also have urged the Nuclear possessing states to urgently take interim steps to reduce the immediate risks of use of nuclear weapons by intent, miscalculation or accident, and in the long term to sign and ratify the treaty.

Prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons is a humanitarian imperative, and a promise to future generations that they will never have to live under the threat of nuclear catastrophe as we have experienced the past 75 years.

“The use of nuclear weapons is, under any circumstances, unacceptable in humanitarian, moral and legal terms. We are ready, together with our Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies, to continue our advocacy to build a world without nuclear weapons: we need to scale-up and intensify our efforts. We must do it for future generations,” concluded Mr Rocca.

Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the Colombian Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

A press release from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

“Transitional justice processes are among the most powerful instruments to overcome conflict and break with cycles of violence and impunity. This is why my Office fully supports the Colombian Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition, which is the cornerstone of the historic Peace Agreement signed in 2016 between the Government – on behalf of the Colombian State – and the FARC-EP to put an end to more than 50 years of armed conflict.


Michelle Bachelet

 

Question related to this article:

Truth Commissions, Do they improve human rights?

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

Today I met with the Truth Commission, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and the Search Unit for Persons deemed as Missing, the three mechanisms that together form the Colombian transitional justice system. I would like to acknowledge the significant achievements of these institutions, as well as the courage of all those who continue to work for the truth to be known. They are fulfilling a fundamental and unique role in ensuring victims’ participation and the realization of their rights to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition.

Their contribution to the consolidation of peace in Colombia is essential. I urge the State authorities to unconditionally support and cooperate with the transitional justice system, and to guarantee the full independence of its mechanisms, including financial autonomy and the ability to operate in a safe and secure environment.

Truth and accountability for the crimes committed are crucial to restore the dignity of victims and to lead to reconciliation, for the benefit of the whole of Colombian society.”

(Click here for the Spanish version of this article.)

United Nations-African Union Joint Task Force on Peace and Security Holds its Nineteenth Consultative Meeting on 16 October 2020

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A press release from the United Nations

The United Nations-African Union Joint Task Force on Peace and Security held its nineteenth consultative meeting via virtual platform on 16 October 2020. 

The meeting reviewed the status of the partnership between the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) with an update on the implementation of the Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. The meeting discussed developments and cooperation in support to on-going electoral processes in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Guinea. The meeting also exchanged views on the situations in Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Western Sahara. 

The AU Commission and the UN Secretariat were represented respectively by Commissioners Minata Samaté-Cessouma (Political Affairs), Smaïl Chergui (Peace and Security); and the Under-Secretaries-General Rosemary DiCarlo (Political and Peacebuilding Affairs), Jean-Pierre Lacroix (Peace Operations), Atul Khare (Operational Support), Hanna Tetteh, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union and Assistant Secretary-General Bintou Keita (Africa). The meeting was also attended by other senior officials from the two Organizations. 
 


The Joint Task Force took note of the considerable progress achieved in the UN-AU partnership including with regional economic communities and mechanisms in Africa together with international partners. These include sustained collaboration on support to African Union peace support operations, early warning and prevention initiatives, as well as coordinated support to national authorities for the conduct of timely, peaceful and inclusive elections as well as for the promotion and protection of human rights. Both organizations strengthened collaboration in mediation support and have begun to focus more on their joint initiatives on the women, peace and security, and youth for peace and security agendas.

The Joint Task Force took note of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace and security in Africa and welcomed the swift actions taken by the continent’s leadership to contain the spread of the pandemic. They further welcomed the collaboration between both organizations, Regional Economic Commissions and Member States in responding to the peace, security and humanitarian impact of the pandemic. 
 
The Joint Task Force exchanged views on the socio-political situations in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Guinea, ahead of the elections scheduled in October and December in those countries. The meeting agreed to foster complementarity in electoral support to Member States and undertake joint conflict prevention initiatives aimed at mitigating election related crisis. The Joint Task Force further agreed to work together in supporting Member States efforts in strengthening their electoral institutions and processes and in enhancing their capacities to organize peaceful, credible, transparent and inclusive elections which among others provide for the participation of women, youth, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups.

The Joint Task Force welcomed increased coordination and collaboration in supporting elections in West Africa. A joint UN-AU-ECOWAS analysis paper, joint messaging and joint solidarity missions to Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea illustrated this increased partnership. 
 


The Joint Task Force expressed concern about the tense environment ahead of the presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire. They urged all stakeholders to refrain from incendiary speech and violence, and to engage in dialogue to resolve their differences and create an environment conducive to a peaceful, inclusive and credible election. They further encouraged the authorities, including the security forces to protect and uphold human rights in the electoral process. The Joint Task Force reassured the people of Côte d’Ivoire of the continued solidarity and support of the African Union and the United Nations. 
 


The Joint Task Force called on the relevant Ghanaian stakeholders to ensure the holding of peaceful, transparent, inclusive and credible elections. It further encouraged the competing parties to call on their supporters to adhere to the agreed code of conduct, to refrain from the use of hate or inflammatory speech and any acts of violence before, during, and after the general elections. The Joint Task Force further encouraged all parties to resolve any differences that may arise in connection with the elections through dialogue and in strict respect for the rule of law. The Joint Task Force remains confident that Ghana will, as in the past, continue democratic consolidation by delivering peaceful and credible elections. 
 


The Joint Task Force called on Guinean stakeholders to ensure the holding of peaceful and credible elections. They condemned the frequent recourse to hate speech and the manipulation of ethnicity for political purposes. They urged all actors to act with responsibility, refrain from violence and resolve through dialogue and legal means any disagreements that may arise in connection with the election. They further urged the defence and security forces to exercise utmost restraint and uphold international human rights standards in their conduct during the electoral process. The Joint Task Force reiterated the commitment of the African Union and the United Nations to continue supporting the people of Guinea in the consolidation of democratic gains. 
 


Further, the Joint Task Force exchanged views on the situation in Libya and welcomed the conclusion of the Ministerial Meeting on Libya co-chaired by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Foreign Minister of Germany, Mr. Heiko Maas, on 5 October 2020. They agreed that UN, AU, EU and LAS should continue to work towards enhanced cohesion through the Libya Quartet. 
 

 
 

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Question for this article:

Can the African Union help bring a culture of peace to Africa?

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

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On the situation in Mali and the Sahel, the Joint Task Force took note of the start of the political Transition in Mali following the establishment of an inclusive transitional government headed by a civilian Prime Minister and a civilian President. The Joint Task Force welcomed the lifting of sanctions and reiterated the African Union and United Nations’ full support to the Transition authorities and people of Mali towards peace, stability and restoration of constitutional order. It committed to deepen the AU-UN collaboration to assist the transitional authorities in the preparation of elections and launch of priority reforms, within the 18-month transition period. 
 


The Joint Task Force urged the parties to uphold their commitment under the Agreement and prioritize the key institutional reforms of the peace process. It welcomed the participation of the signatory armed groups in the Transition Government and called on all stakeholders to work in a spirit of compromise to accelerate the implementation of the Peace Agreement. The Joint Task Force urged for enhanced participation of women in the peace process. It recognized the important role MINUSMA and MISAHEL continue to play in support of the Malian parties to advance the implementation of the Peace Agreement and to address the situation in central Mali. 


The Joint Task Force expressed concern over the alarming deterioration of the situation in Mali and the Sahel region, and reaffirmed the determination of both Organizations to continue supporting national, regional and international initiatives. The United Nations reiterated its commitment to support the African Union in the strengthening of its engagement in the Sahel, including through the deployment of 3,000 troops in support to the G5 Joint Force. The Joint Task Force also called on international partners to scale up their support, and provide the resources and assistance required by the G5 Sahel Joint Force to fully play its critical role in fighting terrorism and transnational organized crime. 
 


With regards to Ethiopia, the Joint Task Force noted the UN and AU’s support to the country’s ongoing reforms, including to domestic initiatives aimed at facilitating a consensus on key political, social and economic issues. The meeting commended the efforts of the AU to facilitate a mutually beneficial trilateral agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. 
 


On South Sudan, the Joint Task Force called to resolve pending issues particularly agreement on Transitional Security Arrangements (TSAs) and formation of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA). The meeting further committed to support the participation of women in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), and encouraged  the appointment of the head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC).On Sudan, the Joint Task Force highlighted the continuing critical strategic and political partnership between the United Nations and the African Union and noted that the two organisations will continue to be close partners throughout Sudan’s transitional process. The meeting commended the engagement of the African Union in the planning process for UNITAMS, which will maximise the two organisations’ comparative advantages in support of the transition. The Joint Task Force welcomed the peace agreement signed in Juba on 3 October between the Sudan Revolutionary Front, the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minnawi faction and the Government of Sudan and urged the non-signatories to the agreement to fully engage in the peace process. 
 


On Somalia, the Joint Task Force welcomed the resumption of political dialogue among the leaders of the Federal Government and the Federal Member States that led to the agreement on a model for elections, albeit indirect parliamentary elections for 2020/21, and stressed the importance of concerted efforts to work towards universal parliamentary elections in 2024/25. The meeting expressed hope that the upcoming electoral process would be timely, free, fair and inclusive of all sectors of Somali society including women, youth and minority groups, and guarantee at least a 30 per cent representation of women in Parliament. Recognizing that 2021 will be a transition year in Somalia toward a new political dispensation as well as towards Somalis taking the leading role on security, the Joint Task Force underscored the criticality for the dialogue among Somalia’s leaders to continue and extend to other priority areas including the constitutional review, building a federal Somali security sector and other institutions, and resolving outstanding differences between the Federal Government and Federal Member States. 


The Joint Task Force recognized AMISOM’s continued critical contribution to peace and security in Somalia and welcomed its efforts to collaborate with Somali Security Forces to consolidate and extend security gains, notwithstanding challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic The meeting took note of efforts underway to chart the way forward on the transition to Somali security responsibility, notably the Federal Government’s work to update the Transition Plan. With regards to the independent assessment, the AU highlighted that its views should be taken into account. The meeting called for continued efforts to strengthen a common approach among Somalia’s partners towards support to peacebuilding and state-building in the country. 
 


With regard to Western Sahara, the Joint Task Force looks forward to the appointment of a new Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara and encourages the parties to refrain from rhetoric and actions that are harmful to a political solution to the conflict. The Joint Task Force discussed the resource shortfall for the humanitarian assistance for the Sahrawi refugees particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 


The Joint Task Force also discussed UN-AU cooperation in counterterrorism. While commending ongoing cooperation in counterterrorism, participants underlined the need for greater coordination and consultation to ensure synergies, build on each other’s efforts and avoid duplication. The meeting agreed therefore to work towards the establishment of a joint coordination mechanism that will be responsible for providing oversight and strategic level guidance to the joint working groups to be subsequently established. 
 


The next statutory meeting of the Joint Task Force will be hosted by the African Union Commission in February 2021, on the margins of the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. 

UNESCO-sponsored Nanjing Peace Forum

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

A compilation by CPNN of information provided by Palas Athena, J. Frederick Arment,, and UNESCO Kazakhstan

The UNESCO-sponsored Nanjing Peace Forum, October, 2020 will start in Nanjing and, as time zones change, travel virtually to Paris, France; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Baghdad, Iraq; Bamako, Mali; and Brasilia, Brazil. This prerecorded video speaks about HOW peace can be won globally through decentralized NGOs. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay will kickoff the event with officials and scholars around the globe in attendance.

Question related to this article:

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

The video from Brazil will addess the challengs and opportunities for a culture of peace in Brazil in the post COVID-19 era. It will be moderated by the UNESCO representative in Brazil, Marlova Noleto and will include as speakers Lia Diskin of Palas Athena (See CPNN January 30, 2005) and Leoberto Brancher, the judge who has worked for restorative justice in Brazil (See CPNN October 14, 2016).

One of the guest speakers at the forum will be J. Frederick Arment, Executive Director of International Cities of Peace

The video from UNESCO Kazakhstan addresses the role of youth in peacebuilding.

77 Heads of State and Ministers address UN High Level Meeting on Nuclear Weapons

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A message from Unfold Zero

77 Heads of State and Ministers took the opportunity to address the United Nations High Level Meeting on the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons held yesterday (October 2) in the UN General Assembly and by virtual participation.

This is probably the highest number of Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and Defence Ministers to have addressed any of the high level meetings which have taken place annually since 2013 to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Such participation indicates widespread global concern, especially amongst non-nuclear governments, about the threat from nuclear weapons.


Volkan Bozkir, General Assembly President

Representatives from several regional groups and international organisations, as well as two representatives from global civil society, also addressed the meeting. The civil society representatives called on UN Member States to ‘de-escalate the nuclear arms race, redirect nuclear weapons budgets and investments to meet human security needs, and commit to the total elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the UN.’

Click here for the full list of speakers for the event.

UN leadership

The event was chaired by H.E. Vlokan Bozkir, President of the UN General Assembly, who opened the event with a strong presentation reminding us that the UN was born out of the ashes of WWII and the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan, and calling on UN member states to fulfill their obligations to end the nuclear arms race and achieve the comprehensive elimination of nuclear weapons.

H.E. António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, followed with an impassioned speech warning that the world continues to live in the shadow of nuclear catastrophe. He urged nuclear armed states to take practical steps to reduce nuclear risks, and on all members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to work towards a positive outcome to the Review Conference next year that takes forward concrete nuclear disarmament steps.

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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Statements by governments were introduced by their UN ambassadors sitting in the UN General Assembly, but then presented by the leaders (Presidents and Ministers) by pre-recorded video statements due to pandemic constraints on UN physical meetings.

The six hours of statements included many reports on nuclear disarmament action and calls for further action. These included to:

-adopt nuclear risk reduction measures such as de-alerting and no-first-use;

– support existing nuclear-weapon-free-zones and establish additional ones especially one in the Middle East;

– cut nuclear weapons budgets/investments and redirect these to addressing the pandemic and achieving the sustainable development goals;

– support existing treaties such as the NPT, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;

– negotiate a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention which includes the nuclear-armed countries and would prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons globally;

– commit to the total elimination of nuclear weapons by the 100th anniversary of the UN.

Click here for a short video (2mins) with selected quotes from speakers at the High Level Meeting. Click here for the video recording of Session 1 (3 hours). The videos of both sessions and all presentations will be posted online here early next week.

Civil society presentations

Two members of global civil society were invited to make presentations to the High Level event. They are Mr Saber Chowdhury MP (Bangladesh), Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, and Ms Vanda Proskova (Czech Republic), Vice-Chair of PragueVision Institute for Sustainable Security and one of the convenors of #Wethepeoples2020.

Mr Chowdhury noted that ‘We all have a key role to play and engage with governments to ensure implementation of nuclear disarmament obligations, and in diverting resources from nuclear weapons to positive impacts for the economy, livelihoods and protection of nature.’ (Click here for his video presentation).

Ms Proskova noted that nuclear weapons ‘are dangerous whether they are used on purpose or due to a miscalculation. They are extremely harmful to the environment which we are so vehemently trying to protect. In the 21st century they are simply obsolete. And, what is more, they are phenomenally expensive.’ (Click here for her video presentation).

Both of the civil society representatives called on UN members to de-escalate the nuclear arms race, redirect nuclear weapons budgets and investments to meet human security needs, and commit to the total elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the UN.

Culture of peace: UN calls on Gabon’s youth

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from the Gabon Review (translation by CPNN)

Dedicated to the prevention and resolution of conflicts in the sub-region of Central Africa, the creation of a network of “Young peace weavers” in Gabon, Chad and Cameroon was recently presented to the Minister of Decentralization Mathias Otounga Ossibadjouo by the head of the United Nations System in Gabon, Dr. Stephen Jackson.


Dr Stephen Jackson and Mathias Otounga Ossibadjouo, during a previous meeting in August 2020. copyright: Ministry of Decentralization

The creation of a “Network of Young Peace Weavers” was at the heart of recent exchanges between the head of the United Nations System in Gabon, the representative of UNESCO and the Minister of Decentralization Mathias Otounga Ossibadjouo. The UN intends to set up a program of “young people active in conflict resolution at the local level”. The Gabonese government is asked to help materialize this project.

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Question related to this article:
 
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 Dr Stephen Jackson, the aim will be to involve 1,800 young people from three countries in the Central African sub-region, including Chad and Cameroon, aged between 18 and 35. “We want young people who live there, who speak the languages ​​of these countries, so who are able to communicate, explain and present the project”, specifies Vincenzo Fazzino, UNESCO representative in Gabon .

As part of the creation of this network, UN officials in Gabon indicate that young people who will be identified in the three countries will be trained in conflict prevention and resolution techniques. They will also be equipped with means of communication, in particular to enable them to communicate with each other.

Ultimately, this project should make it possible to support the Conflict Resolution Network through an early warning mechanism within the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). The project will last 2 years, of which the first 3 to 6 months will be devoted to training network members.

(Click here for the original French version of this article)

Annual meeting of the United Nations High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An annoucment from the President of the United Nations General Assembly

. . . In 2020, despite the difficulties in ensuring business continuity in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is of utmost importance that the United Nations continues to support the global movement to promote the culture of peace, its Declaration and Programme of Action, and that our response and recovery efforts are guided towards implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


President of the General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande

The Culture of Peace: Change our world for the better in the age of COVID-19

This year’s High-Level Forum is intended to be an opportunity for an exchange of views on possible ways to further promote the culture of peace, while the world is striving to recover and respond to the global pandemic and trying to address other pressing issues affecting the lives of many people around the globe. The COVID-19 situation has underscored the urgent need to leverage a culture of peace as a means of bridging divides across and within societies, as well as ensuring peaceful coexistence as a foundation for advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.

International cooperation and multilateral partnerships are necessary to tackle the pandemic and other global threats. Concrete action is needed by all stakeholders to realize this vision through education, inclusion, poverty eradication, and social cohesion, with more participation from women, the youth, and other segments of society.

The theme for the 2020 High-Level Forum will be “The Culture of Peace: Change our world for the better in the age of COVID-19”.

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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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Building global solidarity is the need of the time and can be achieved through promoting inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue that enable communities to come together to better understand each other and stand against the spread of hate, intolerance, division, and discrimination. The resilient nature of people to overcome the challenges with renewed optimism should be strengthened and put at the core of all our collective response and recovery plans, so that this crisis does not exacerbate the already high levels of inequality and discrimination. Vulnerable populations with less access to health care, basic public services, and economic resources should be our top priority. The event will provide a platform to explore opportunities to change our world for the better after the pandemic.

Participation

Member States and Observers of the General Assembly are invited to participate in the virtual High-Level Forum. The meeting will be webcast and it is open to UN agencies, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders.

Format of the High-Level Forum

The High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace, convened by the President of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly, will take place on Thursday, 10 September 2020, via online WebEx platform from 10 am to 1 pm. The event will consist of an opening segment and a plenary segment. The opening segment will feature statements by the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General [tbc]. The plenary segment will comprise statements by Member States and Observers of the General Assembly, as well as other participants, time permitting.

Member States are encouraged to deliver statements on behalf of a group of States, whenever possible. Member States are encouraged to limit their statements to three (3) minutes for individual delegations and five (5) minutes for statements made on behalf of a group of States. There will be a pre-established list of speakers and it will be open for registration before the event. In view of time constraints for the online plenary segment, delegations that did not have the opportunity to speak can send their statements for uploading on the PGA’s website. A President’s summary of the meeting will be circulated to Member States upon its conclusion.

Details pertaining to the virtual arrangements for the meeting will be circulated in due course. Further information regarding this meeting will be made available on the PGA’s website: https://www.un.org/pga/74.