Tag Archives: United Nations

Generation Equality Forum: Mexico City, 29-31 March 2021

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An announcement from Foro Generacion Igualdad

The Generation Equality Forum will kick off in Mexico City 29-31 March 2021, hosted by the Government of Mexico.

With civil society at its core, the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico will reinforce the power and voice of feminist movements and youth and the commitment and action of different stake holders, including high level representatives from Member States, the private sector, and international organizations.

By analyzing progress and gaps since the 1995 Beijing Women’s conference, including the heightened urgency posed by the COVID crisis, the event will make the case for strengthened intergenerational and transformative feminist leadership and accelerated action on gender equality.

As the kick-off for the Generation Equality Forum journey, the event will:

– Launch the work of the Action Coalitions, and their calls for action for urgent implementation and investment

– Develop a multilateral feminist agenda to sharpen the Generation Equality Forum vision towards Paris

– Integrate the formation of a multilateral alliance of countries to promote the gender equality agenda

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(Click 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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The event will include a series of dialogues that will address the structural and systemic obstacles that prevent the achievement of gender equality and fulfillment of the human rights of women and girls.

This event presents a historic opportunity to promote the full implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, and is aligned with the feminist foreign policy promoted by the Government of Mexico.

The Generation Equality Forum is a civil society–centred, global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France. Kicking off in Mexico City, Mexico, on 29–31 March 2021, and culminating in Paris, France, in June 2021, this landmark effort will bring together governments, corporations and changemakers from around the world to define and announce ambitious investments and policies. The Forum will propel concrete, ambitious, and transformative commitments for gender equality.

Registration for the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico City is now open at this link, and an FAQ about the event is available here.

The Forum responds to the fact that—despite the commitments made in Beijing in 1995 to take strategic, bold action on gender equality—progress and implementation has been slow. Not a single country today can claim to have achieved gender equality. With women’s rights at risk of rolling back further as a result of the COVID-19 crisis—due to heightened poverty and risks of gender-based violence—the Forum is a rallying point to finally achieve the human rights of all women and girls.

The Generation Equality Forum will also fuel a powerful and enduring coalition for gender equality, bringing together governments, activists, corporations, feminist organizations, youth and allies to achieve transformative change.

To learn more about the Forum in Mexico, the Action Coalitions and to stay up-to-date on all the latest developments, visit the Generation Equality Forum website.

Statement by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director, on International Women’s Day 2021

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

A statement from UN Women

International Women’s Day this year comes at a difficult time for the world and for gender equality, but at a perfect moment to fight for transformative action and to salute women and young people for their relentless drive for gender equality and human rights. Our focus is on women’s leadership and on ramping up representation in all the areas where decisions are made – currently mainly by men – about the issues that affect women’s lives. The universal and catastrophic lack of representation of women’s interests has gone on too long.



Video of Statement

As we address the extraordinary hardship that COVID-19 has brought to millions of women and girls and their communities, we also look ahead to the solid opportunities of the Generation Equality Forum and Action Coalitions to bring change.

During the pandemic, we have seen increased violence against women and girls and lost learning for girls as school drop-out rates, care responsibilities and child marriages rise. We are seeing tens of millions more women plunge into extreme poverty, as they lose their jobs at a higher rate than men, and pay the price for a lack of digital access and skills. These and many other problems cannot be left to men alone to solve. Yet, while there are notable exceptions, in most countries there is simply not the critical mass of women in decision-making and leadership positions to ensure that these issues are tabled and dealt with effectively and this has affected the pace of change for women overall.

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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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There are breakthroughs to celebrate, where women have taken the helm of organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank and we look forward to more such appointments that help to change the picture of what a leader looks like. Yet this is not the norm. In 2020, as a global average, women were 4.4 per cent of CEOs, occupied just 16.9 per cent of board seats, made up only 25 per cent of national parliamentarians, and just 13 per cent of peace negotiators. Only 22 countries currently have a woman as Head of State or Government and 119 have never experienced this – something that has important consequences for the aspirations of girls growing up. On the current trajectory, we won’t see gender parity in the highest office before 2150. 

This can and must change. What is needed is the political will to actively and intentionally support women’s representation. Leaders can set and meet parity targets, including through appointments for all executive positions at all levels of government, as has occurred in the few countries with gender equal cabinets. Special measures can work; where countries have put in place and enforced quotas, they have made real progress on women’s leadership, as have those that have policies to address representation. Where these measures do not exist, progress is slower or even nonexistent and easily reversed.

No country prospers without the engagement of women. We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations. This is the only way we will get real societal change that incorporates women in decision-making as equals and benefits us all.

This is the vision of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals and the vision of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. It is the vision of civil society and multitudes of young people who are already leading the way and of all those who will join us in the Generation Equality Action Coalitions. We need bold decisive action across the world to bring women into the heart of the decision-making spaces in large numbers and as full partners, so that we can make immediate progress on a greener, equitable and inclusive world.

International Women’s Day 2021

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

A publication of UN Women

Women of the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all. To get us there, the world needs women at every table where decisions are being made.

This year, the theme for International Women’s Day (8 March), “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the gaps that remain.


Credit: UN Women/Yihui Yuan

Women’s full and effective participation and leadership in of all areas of life drives progress for everyone. Yet, women are still underrepresented in public life and decision-making, as revealed in the UN Secretary-General’s recent report. Women are Heads of State or Government in 22 countries, and only 24.9 per cent of national parliamentarians are women. At the current rate of progress, gender equality among Heads of Government will take another 130 years.

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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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Women are also at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19, as front-line and health sector workers, as scientists, doctors and caregivers, yet they get paid 11 per cent less globally than their male counterparts. An analysis of COVID-19 task teams from 87 countries found only 3.5 per cent of them had gender parity.

When women lead, we see positive results. Some of the most efficient and exemplary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic were led by women. And women, especially young women, are at the forefront of diverse and inclusive movements online and on the streets for social justice, climate change and equality in all parts of the world. Yet, women under 30 are less than 1 per cent of parliamentarians worldwide. 

This is why, this year’s International Women’s Day is a rallying cry for Generation Equality, to act for an equal future for all. The Generation Equality Forum, the most important convening for gender equality investment and actions, kicks off in Mexico City from 29 – 31 March, and culminates in Paris in June 2021. It will draw leaders, visionaries, and activists from around the world, safely on a virtual platform, to push for transformative and lasting change for generations to come.

Meet the activists, and get inspired by stories of women leaders we admire.

Event: United Nations Observance of International Women’s Day 2021
UN Women is pleased to invite you to the United Nations observance of International Women’s Day 2021. The theme is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world on the way to the Generation Equality Forum”. Learn more.

Statements

Statement by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director, on International Women’s Day 2021.

In her statement for International Women’s Day (8 March), UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations. This is the only way we will get real societal change that incorporates women in decision-making as equals and benefits us all.”

New UNEP synthesis provides blueprint to urgently solve planetary emergencies and secure humanity’s future

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A press release from the United Nations Environmental Program

The world can transform its relationship with nature and tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises together to secure a sustainable future and prevent future pandemics, according to a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) that offers a comprehensive blueprint for addressing our triple planetary emergency.


Launch of report

The report, Making Peace with Nature, lays out the gravity of these three environmental crises by drawing on global assessments, including those from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, as well as UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook report, the UNEP International Resource Panel, and new findings on the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19.

The authors assess the links between multiple environmental and development challenges, and explain how advances in science and bold policymaking can open a pathway towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and a carbon neutral world by 2050 while bending the curve on biodiversity loss and curbing pollution and waste. Taking that path means innovation and investment only in activities that protect both people and nature. Success will include restored ecosystems and healthier lives as well as a stable climate.

“By bringing together the latest scientific evidence showing the impacts and threats of the climate emergency, the biodiversity crisis and the pollution that kills millions of people every year, [this report] makes clear that our war on nature has left the planet broken,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in the report’s Foreword. “But it also guides us to a safer place by providing a peace plan and a post-war rebuilding programme.

“By transforming how we view nature, we can recognize its true value. By reflecting this value in policies, plans and economic systems, we can channel investments into activities that restore nature and are rewarded for it,” he added. “By recognizing nature as an indispensable ally, we can unleash human ingenuity in the service of sustainability and secure our own health and well-being alongside that of the planet.”

Amid a wave of investment to re-energize economies hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the blueprint communicates the opportunity and urgency for ambitious and immediate action. It also lays out the roles that everyone – from governments and businesses to communities and individuals – can and must play. 2021 is especially crucial, with upcoming climate and biodiversity convention meetings – NFCCC COP 26 and CBD COP 15 – where governments must come up with synergistic and ambitious targets to safeguard the planet by almost halving greenhouse gas emissions in this decade, and by conserving and restoring biodiversity.

Tackling three planetary threats together

Economic growth has brought uneven gains in prosperity to a fast-growing global population, leaving 1.3 billion people poor, while tripling the extraction of natural resources to damaging levels and creating a planetary emergency. Despite a temporary decline in emissions due to the pandemic, Earth is heading for at least 3°C of global warming this century; more than 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species are at substantially increased risk of extinction; and diseases caused by pollution are currently killing some 9 million people prematurely every year. Environmental degradation is impeding progress towards ending poverty and hunger, reducing inequalities and promoting sustainable economic growth, work for all and peaceful and inclusive societies.

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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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The report shows how this trio of environmental emergencies interact and have common causes, and thus can only be effectively addressed together. Subsidies on fossil fuels, for instance, and prices that leave out environmental costs, are driving the wasteful production and consumption of energy and natural resources that are behind all three problems.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, said the report highlighted the importance of changing mindsets and values, and finding political and technical solutions that measure up to the Earth’s environmental crises.

“In showing how the health of people and nature are intertwined, the COVID-19 crisis has underlined the need for a step-change in how we view and value nature. By reflecting that value in decision-making – whether we are talking about economic policy or personal choices – we can bring about a rapid and lasting shift toward sustainability for both people and the environment,” she said. “‘Green recovery’ plans for pandemic-hit economies are an unmissable opportunity to accelerate the transformation.”

Released ahead of the fifth UN Environment Assembly, the report presents a strong case for why and how urgent action should be taken to protect and restore the planet and its climate in a holistic way.

It presents examples of what transformative change can look like, and how it can create prosperity, employment and greater equality. Far-reaching change involves recasting how we value and invest in nature, integrating that value into policies and decisions at all levels, overhauling subsidies and other elements of economic and financial systems, and fostering innovation in sustainable technologies and business models. Massive private investment in electric mobility and alternative fuels show how whole industries recognize the potential gains from shifting quickly.

The authors point out that ending environmental decline in all its forms is essential to advancing many of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular poverty alleviation, food and water security and good health for all. An example is how intensifying agriculture and fishing in sustainable ways, allied with changes in diets and lower food waste, can help end global hunger and poverty and improve nutrition and health while sparing more land and ocean for nature.

Reinforcing the call for action, the report stresses the need for stakeholders at all levels of society to be involved in decision-making, and identifies dozens of key actions that governments, businesses, communities and individuals can and should undertake in order to bring about a sustainable world.

For instance:

* Governments can include natural capital in measures of economic performance, put a price on carbon and shift trillions of dollars in subsidies from fossil fuels, non-sustainable agriculture and transportation towards low-carbon and nature-friendly solutions

* International organizations can promote One Health approaches and ambitious international targets for biodiversity, such as expanded and improved protected area networks

* Financial organizations can stop lending for fossil fuels and develop innovative finance for biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture.

* Businesses can adopt the principles of the circular economy to minimize resource use and waste and commit to maintaining transparent and deforestation-free supply chains

* Non-government organizations can build networks of stakeholders to ensure their full participation in decisions about sustainable use of land and marine resources

* Scientific organizations can pioneer technologies and policies to reduce carbon emissions, increase resource efficiency and lift the resilience of cities, industries, communities and ecosystems

* Individuals can reconsider their relationship with nature, learn about sustainability and change their habits to reduce their use of resources, cut waste of food, water and energy, and adopt healthier diets

A sustainable future also means learning from the COVID-19 crisis to reduce the threat of pandemic diseases. The report underlines how ecosystem degradation heightens the risk of pathogens making the jump from animals to humans, and the importance of a ‘One Health’ approach that considers human, animal and planetary health together.

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

‘Women and girls belong in science’ declares UN chief  

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from United Nations News

Closed labs and increased care responsibilities are just a two of the challenges women in scientific fields are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN chief said in his message for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, on Thursday. 


Video made by the Secretary-General

“Advancing gender equality in science and technology is essential for building a better future”, Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “We have seen this yet again in the fight against COVID-19”. 

Women, who represent 70 per cent of all healthcare workers, have been among those most affected by the pandemic and those leading the response to it. Yet, as women bear the brunt of school closures and working from home, gender inequalities have increased dramatically over the past year.  

Woman’s place is in the lab 

Citing the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) he said that women account for only one third of the world’s researchers and hold fewer senior positions than men at top universities, which has led to “a lower publication rate, less visibility, less recognition and, critically, less funding”. 

Meanwhile, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning replicate existing biases.  

“Women and girls belong in science”, stressed the Secretary-General.  Yet stereotypes have steered them away from science-related fields. 

Diversity fosters innovation 

The UN chief underscored the need to recognize that “greater diversity fosters greater innovation”.  

“Without more women in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics], the world will continue to be designed by and for men, and the potential of girls and women will remain untapped”, he spelled out. 

Their presence is also critical in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to close gender pay gaps and boost women’s earnings by $299 billion over the next ten years, according to Mr. Guterres. 

“STEM skills are also crucial in closing the global Internet user gap”, he said, urging everyone to “end gender discrimination, and ensure that all women and girls fulfill their potential and are an integral part in building a better world for all”. 

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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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 ‘A place in science’ 

Meanwhile, despite a shortage of skills in most of the technological fields driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, women still account for only 28 per cent of engineering graduates and 40 per cent of graduates in computer science and informatics, according to UNESCO.  

It argues the need for women to be a part of the digital economy to “prevent Industry 4.0 from perpetuating traditional gender biases”.  

UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay observed  that “even today, in the 21st century, women and girls are being sidelined in science-related fields due to their gender”.  

As the impact of AI on societal priorities continues to grow, the underrepresentation of women’s contribution to research and development means that their needs and perspectives are likely to be overlooked in the design of products that impact our daily lives, such as smartphone applications.  

“Women need to know that they have a place in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and that they have a right to share in scientific progress”, said Ms. Azoulay.

‘Pathway’ to equality

Commemorating the day at a dedicated event, General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir informed that he is working with a newly established Gender Advisory Board to mainstream gender throughout all of the UN’s work, including the field of science. 

“We cannot allow the COVID-19 pandemic to derail our plans for equality”, he said, adding that increasing access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, for women and girls has emerged as “a pathway to gender equality and as a key objective of the 2030 Agenda  for Sustainable Development”. 

Mr. Volkan highlighted the need to accelerate efforts and invest in training for girls to “learn and excel in science”. 

“From the laboratory to the boardroom, Twitter to television, we must amplify the voices of female scientists”, he stressed. 

STEM minorities  

Meanwhile, UNESCO and the L’Oréal Foundation honoured five women researchers in the fields of astrophysics, mathematics, chemistry and informatics as part of the 23rd  International Prize for Women in Science.  

In its newly published global study on gender equality in scientific research, To be smart, the digital revolution will need to be inclusive, UNESCO shows that although the number of women in scientific research has risen to one in three, they remain a minority in mathematics, computer science, engineering and artificial intelligence. 

“It is not enough to attract women to a scientific or technological discipline”, said  Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, Assistant UNESCO Director-General for Natural Sciences.  

“We must also know how to retain them, ensuring that their careers are not strewn with obstacles and that their achievements are recognized and supported by the international scientific community”. 

New ICC ruling ‘opens the door’ for justice in occupied Palestine – Independent UN expert

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from United Nations News

The ruling of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that is does have jurisdiction over grave crimes committed in occupied Palestinian territory is a “significant step forward in the quest for justice and accountability”, an independent UN human rights expert said on Tuesday. 


A girl stands in front of her home in Khan Younis Palestine refugee camp in Gaza. © UNRWA/Hussein Jaber

Q 1: An Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem has labelled Israel as an “apartheid state” over its policy of favoring Jews over the Palestinians earlier this month. How would you comment on this declaration? Could it ease the Israeli aggression on Palestinians?

 “This offers profound hope to those who believe that consequences, not condonation, must be the answer to the commission of grave crimes”, said  Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.  

The judgement, which includes potential war crimes, is a major move towards ending impunity in the 53-year-old occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza. 

“The leading political organs of the United Nations have repeatedly failed to enforce their own significant body of resolutions on the Israeli occupation”, the UN expert said. “This ruling opens the door for credible allegations of Rome Statute crimes to finally be investigated and potentially reach the trial stage at the ICC.” 

Probing the past 

The ICC prosecutor can now investigate a number of past allegations, including “grave crimes” committed by Israel during the 2014 war against Gaza, the killing and wounding of thousands of largely unarmed demonstrators during the Great March of Return in 2018-2019 and Israel’s settlement activities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to the press release from OHCHR.  

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(click here for a related article in French.)

Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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Moreover, the prosecutor can also look into allegations of grave crimes involving Palestinian armed groups.  

“In adopting the Rome Statute and creating the International Criminal Court, the international community pledged its determination to end impunity for the perpetrators of grave crimes”, the Special Rapporteur stated. “Yet, in the context of Israel’s protracted occupation, the international community has permitted a culture of exceptionalism to prevail”.  

He also maintained that, had international legal obligations been purposively enforced years ago, “the occupation and the conflict would have been justly resolved and there would have been no need for the ICC process”. 

Unanswered reports 

The Special Rapporteur elaborated on a number of authoritative UN reports in recent years that have called for accountability and for Israel to meaningfully investigate credible allegations of grave crimes – none of which has been implemented.  

He cited one from the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict, which stated that “justice and respect for the rule of law are the indispensable basis for peace. The prolonged situation of impunity has created a justice crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that warrants action”. 

Another referred to a 2013 report on the implications of the Israeli settlements and called upon Israel to “ensure full accountability for all violations…and to put an end to the policy of impunity”. 

Call for global backing 

Mr. Lynk urged the international community to support the ICC process, reminding that “the preamble of the Rome Statute calls for ‘international cooperation’ to ensure the ‘lasting respect for and the enforcement of international justice’”.  

“Ending impunity and pursuing justice can only bring us closer to peace in the Middle East”, upheld the independent UN expert. 

His call has been endorsed by Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council  to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions and the experts are not paid for their work.

Opening event to launch the International Year of Peace and Trust was held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from the Middle East North Africa Financial Network (MENAFN)

 On the 29th of January, 2021, the Opening event to launch the International Year of Peace and Trust was held in the Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, Trend reports citing Embassy of Turkmenistan in Azerbaijan.

[The International Year was proclaimed in United Nations Resolution A/73/338

The heads and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, deputies of the Mejlis (Parliament), chiefs of diplomatic missions and representative offices of international organizations in Turkmenistan, Rectors of the institutions of higher education of the country, Editors-in-chief of press and representatives of national mass media, as well as foreign journalists accredited in Turkmenistan took part in the event.

The heads and representatives of the United Nations and its structural agencies, Economic Cooperation Organization, Commonwealth of Independent States, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, as well as other regional and international organizations, and foreign mass media participated to the event via videoconferencing.

During her opening remarks, the Acting UN Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan, UNICEF Representative in Turkmenistan Christine Weigand noted the importance of the International Year of Peace and Trust initiated by the President of Turkmenistan for the sake of sustaining peace, stability and mutual understanding between people which is the key to sustainable development.

In continuation of the topic, the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov underlined that the unanimous adoption at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly of the Resolution declaring the year 2021 as the International Year of Peace and Trust has become a reflection of the efforts of the permanently neutral Turkmenistan calling for strengthening of the culture of peace and trust in the international relations. ‘Putting forward this idea, the Leader of Turkmen nation has specifically stated that it has a concrete nature and thus urged the international community to reinforce the adopted document with practical content, enrich it with real actions,’ said R.Meredov. The head of the MFA of Turkmenistan underlined the significance of applying the means of diplomacy, the political dialog based on mutual understanding and cooperation in the advancement of friendly ties between countries and people and to achieve this Turkmenistan actively cooperates with the international partners.

Speaking at the opening ceremony Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Asia, Head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia Natalya Gherman underlined the importance of the International Year of Peace and Trust, which meant greater cohesion for the sake of peace and prosperity of the world community.

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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 timeliness of the International Year of Peace and Trust was also highlighted in the speech of the President of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Volkan Bozkir. Thanking the Government of Turkmenistan for initiating the International Year of Peace and Trust, he underlined that in view of the global situation, the need in peace and trust is high as never before. Mr. Bozkir urged the international community to continue cooperating through political dialog and solidarity on the way to peace, security and sustainable development.

His words were complemented by the Permanent Representative of Turkmenistan to the United Nations Aksoltan Atayeva who noted the efficiency of peaceful initiatives of the President of Turkmenistan that help to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Minister of Foreign affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Bayramov highlighted in his speech the specific need in conducting International year of peace and trust which calls upon to activate efforts and activity on advocating the culture of peace.

In her speech the Head of the OSCE Center in Ashgabat Natalya Drozd spoke about the importance of strengthening the culture of peace and trust.

The Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization Hadi Soleimanpour also gave a speech at the event. He highly appraised the level of cooperation between Turkmenistan and the ECO, as well as emphasized that the economic progress is inseparably linked to the security in the region and in the world, and to attain this it is necessary to strengthen trust between countries and people.

About the importance of strengthening peace and trust between countries and people has also spoke the Chairman of the Executive Committee – Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States Sergey Lebedev. He highlighted the effective role of Turkmenistan in the development of friendly ties not only in the region, but also in the whole world.

The Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva, Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament Tatiana Valovaya and the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Lassina Zerbo highly appraised the role of Turkmenistan in the development of friendly and constructive ties between countries.

In turn, the President of the General Conference of UNESCO Altay Cengizer and Assistant Director-General for the Africa Department of UNESCO Firmin Edouard Matoko emphasized the timeliness of holding the International Year of Peace and Trust. They noted that the notion of peace and trust are the keystones of international cooperation.

Furthermore, the UNODC representative, Permanent representatives of Afghanistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Indonesia and Bangladesh at the UN have underlined the importance of conducting International year of peace and trust in the context of fully strengthening solidarity and mutual support on regional and global levels to create cohesion for addressing pressing issues of present.

During the event, the participants discussed the possibilities of holding joint events in the framework of the International Year of Peace and Trust. A constructive exchange of views and proposals on the improvement of activities on the platform of regional and international organizations for the sake of peace, stability and sustainable development took place. Thus, upon the outcomes of the event, the Roadmap of the International Year of Peace and Trust was adopted.

United Nations: Guterres hails entry into force of treaty banning nuclear weapons

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A press release from the United Nations

The first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty in more than two decades, came into force just after midnight on Friday [January 22], hailed by the UN Secretary-General as “an important step towards a world free of nuclear weapons”.


Video of Guterres remarks

António Guterres said that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) also represents a “strong demonstration of support for multilateral approaches to nuclear disarmament” overall.

‘Tragic testimonies’ of survivors

In a video message and statement, the UN chief commended the States that have ratified the Treaty and welcomed the “instrumental role of civil society in advancing the TPNW’s negotiation and entry into force”.

“The survivors of nuclear explosions and nuclear tests offered tragic testimonies and were a moral force behind the Treaty. Entry into force is a tribute to their enduring advocacy”, he said.

Mr. Guterres said he was looking forward to guiding the UN’s response according the Treaty, including preparations for the first official Meeting of States Parties.

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(Click here for the French version of this statement or here for the Spanish version.)

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

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Growing dangers

“Nuclear weapons pose growing dangers and the world needs urgent action to ensure their elimination and prevent the catastrophic human and environmental consequences any use would cause”, said the UN chief.

“The elimination of nuclear weapons remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations. The Secretary-General calls on all States to work together to realize this ambition to advance common security and collective safety.”

The TPNW secured the 50 ratifications it needed to then enter into force, at the end of last October. The campaigners who had steered momentum towards Friday’s milestone moment, described it then as “a new chapter for nuclear disarmament”.

The accord was approved initially by 122 nations at the UN General Assembly in 2017, but it was civil society groups led by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) which had put in the “decades of activism” to secure the number of countries required to make it a reality.

Nuclear powers silent

So far however, the main nuclear powers of the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and France, have not signed the accord.

It declares that countries ratifying it must “never under any circumstances develop, test, produce, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

In a statement released last October by the civil society and campaign umbrella group ICAN – which won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in 2017 – it said that once the treaty comes into force, all States’ parties will need to follow through on their promises, and abide by its prohibitions.

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

United Nations Alliance of Civilizations : Applications now open for the Youth Solidarity Fund

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An announcement from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

The Youth Solidarity Fund (YSF) supports youth-led organizations that foster peaceful and inclusive societies. Seed funding is given to projects, for and by young people, that demonstrate innovative and effective approaches to intercultural or interfaith dialogue. UNAOC additionally offers capacity-building support to help youth-led organizations strengthen the implementation of their projects.

Established in 2008, YSF responded to calls for action made by young civil society leaders worldwide on the importance of establishing funding mechanisms for youth-led organizations. Today, YSF is more relevant than ever. As the global agenda increasingly speaks of youth’s participation and contribution to peace, development and security, it is critical to listen and respond with funding and partnership opportunities. Click here to start application process


Photo from video about previous YSF winners

The funded projects are youth-led and youth-focused. The age definition used by UNAOC to characterize youth is an individual between the ages of 18 and 35. While the projects target mainly young people, they have an impact on entire communities, often involving religious or political leaders, policy-makers, educational institutions and media organizations.

Youth Solidarity Fund – 9th Edition

The world today is home to the largest youth generation in history, a population that suffers disproportionately from the effects of violence, conflict, poverty, and now COVID-19. The repercussions of COVID-19 extend way beyond health and are exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and inequalities. The UN Comprehensive Response to COVID-19 states that the world is experiencing a “surge of stigma, a tsunami of hate, and ramped-up efforts to exploit young people.” To counter this alarming trend, it calls for more action to address the root causes of intolerance and discrimination by promoting inclusion and respect for diversity.

Despite COVID-19 and many other obstacles and challenges, young people continue to find ways to engage, support one another, as well as demand, and drive change. Young people implement innovative solutions to peace and security challenges and are the most able to mobilize their peers. They have the power to transform entire regions to make them more secure, peaceful, and socially inclusive. This has been recognized by the United Nations’ Youth, Peace and Security agenda, which has increasingly focused on youth as agents of change and key actors in powerful social movements. The latest Security Council Resolution on YPS 2535 (July 2020) reiterates youth-led organizations’ critical role in planning and stabilization efforts in peacebuilding and sustaining peace. Indeed, these organizations have a deep understanding of local conditions and meaningful community relationships, allowing them to work with populations that may be difficult for others to access.

Our world has recently witnessed a tragic surge in religious hatred, with increased attacks and violence targeting members of faiths and traditions. In the face of these unspeakable tragedies, the world has also witnessed extraordinary displays of support, love, and solidarity from religious communities across the globe for the victims of such attacks. That led to the creation of the United Nations Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, developed by UNAOC and launched in September 2019, highlighting the need to create counter-narratives to hatred and violent extremism and promote sustained collaboration among different religions through interreligious dialogue, education, and media. Youth empowerment, including their meaningful participation in decision-making, can play an essential role in whole-of-society preventative approaches.

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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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YSF continues to support youth-led civil society organizations, with a particular focus on the role of young people in promoting peace and preventing violent extremism. YSF does so by providing the partnership, mentorship, and financial means to help young people implement activities that prevent violent conflict, promote peace and social inclusion. YSF functions as a small grant-making mechanism for youth to develop their own ideas on strengthening community resilience against violent extremism conducive to terrorism. UNAOC believes that young people are uniquely placed to counter and prevent violent extremism within their communities based on their valuable insights, influence, and credibility.

Additionally, YSF contributes to the implementation of the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism and the call to support young people as they take up the causes of cultural and religious pluralism, peace, and mutual respect. The 9th edition of YSF encourages proposals addressing the increased stigma and discrimination of young people and their communities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Proposals focusing on promoting tolerance and respect for other religions and cultures, the right of human beings to practice their faith in safety and peace, and dialogue and respect to combat extremist ideologies and narratives, are also welcome. By addressing the issue of hate speech and its impact on young people, the new edition of YSF will also follow recommendations of the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech.

A critical part of YSF is a comprehensive capacity building and mentorship support provided to the grant recipients. Organizations that will be awarded with the seed funding for their projects will also take part in structured capacity development program, consisting of workshops and regular mentoring sessions. Through tailor-made mentorship, the workshops will offer know-how on diverse topics, including organizational development, sustainability and personal safety in the field. Additionally, the program also provides grant recipients an opportunity to network with their peers and build connections with the international community. This capacity development program is based on the Youth 360 approach developed by Search for Common Ground with UNAOC and other partners.

Impact

Since 2008, UNAOC has launched eight YSF editions and provided funding to youth-led organizations based in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. To date, a total of 68 projects have been funded, reaching around 95,000 direct beneficiaries in 40 countries. In total, more than 1.7 million direct and indirect beneficiaries have been impacted over the past twelve years.

The projects funded by YSF target young people from various backgrounds: students, marginalized youth, minorities, youth in rural or urban areas, youth in conflict or post-conflict situations, artists and activists. The youth-led organizations employ creative methodologies to break stereotypes, improve intercultural relations and promote a culture of peace, including:

– Educational activities, ranging from one-day awareness raising sessions to week-long trainings, peer-education activities, summer camps, as well as development of educational materials and tools and creation of networks of student leaders and youth clubs;

– Arts and sports as tools to address conflict in a non-violent way, to promote inter-community understanding and to raise-awareness about the dangers of sectarianism, extremism and radicalization;

– Media and social-media campaigns, video production for advocacy purposes and radio series to promote messages of tolerance and peace;

– Creative settings that facilitate intercultural dialogue, interfaith understanding, sharing of experiences and learning from each other in order to bring meaningful change to their society.

Click here to start application process

(Editor’s note : The February 2021 newsletter of the UNAOC announces that “The call for applications for the ninth edition of UNAOC’s Youth Solidarity Fund recorded its highest submission rate with 1,508 applications from youth-led organizations representing 76 countries! UNAOC is now in the process of selecting a group of organizations that will have a chance to participate in capacity-building workshops provided by its project partner, Search for Common Ground. This new interactive component is introduced to strengthen the project proposals and widen the support provided to the youth organizations that invested their time and efforts in the application process.”)

Broken societies put people and planet on collision course, says UNDP

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from the United Nations Development Program

The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest crisis facing the world, but unless humans release their grip on nature, it won’t be the last, according to a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which includes a new experimental index on human progress that takes into account countries’ carbon dioxide emissions and material footprint.

The report lays out a stark choice for world leaders – take bold steps to reduce the immense pressure that is being exerted on the environment and the natural world, or humanity’s progress will stall.


Photo: LALS STOCK/Shutterstock.com

“Humans wield more power over the planet than ever before. In the wake of COVID-19, record- breaking temperatures and spiraling inequality, it is time to use that power to redefine what we mean by progress, where our carbon and consumption footprints are no longer hidden,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.

“As this report shows, no country in the world has yet achieved very high human development without putting immense strain on the planet. But we could be the first generation to right this wrong. That is the next frontier for human development,” he said.

The report argues that as people and planet enter an entirely new geological epoch, the Anthropocene or the Age of Humans, it is time to for all countries to redesign their paths to progress by fully accounting for the dangerous pressures humans put on the planet, and dismantle the gross imbalances of power and opportunity that prevent change.

To illustrate the point, the 30th anniversary edition of the Human Development Report, The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene, introduces an experimental new lens to its annual Human Development Index (HDI).

By adjusting the HDI, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standards of living, to include two more elements: a country’s carbon dioxide emissions and its material footprint, the index shows how the global development landscape would change if both the wellbeing of people and also the planet were central to defining humanity’s progress.

With the resulting Planetary-Pressures Adjusted HDI – or PHDI – a new global picture emerges, painting a less rosy but clearer assessment of human progress. For example, more than 50 countries drop out of the very high human development group, reflecting their dependence on fossil fuels and material footprint.

Despite these adjustments, countries like Costa Rica, Moldova, and Panama move upwards by at least 30 places, recognizing that lighter pressure on the planet is possible.

“The Human Development Report is an important product by the United Nations. In a time where action is needed, the new generation of Human Development Reports, with greater emphasis on the defining issues of our time such as climate change and inequalities, helps us to steer our efforts towards the future we want,” said Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden, host country of the launch of the report.

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(Click here for the article in French or here for the article in Spanish

Question for this article:

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

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The next frontier for human development will require working with and not against nature, while transforming social norms, values, and government and financial incentives, the report argues.

For example, new estimates project that by 2100 the poorest countries in the world could experience up to 100 more days of extreme weather due to climate change each year- a number that could be cut in half if the Paris Agreement on climate change is fully implemented.

And yet fossil fuels are still being subsidized: the full cost to societies of publicly financed subsidies for fossil fuels – including indirect costs – is estimated at over US$5 trillion a year, or 6.5 percent of global GDP, according to International Monetary Fund figures cited in the report.

Reforestation and taking better care of forests could alone account for roughly a quarter of the pre-2030 actions we must take to stop global warming from reaching two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

“While humanity has achieved incredible things, it is clear that we have taken our planet for granted,” said Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy Youth. “Across the world young people have spoken up, recognizing that these actions put our collective future at risk. As the 2020 Human Development Report makes clear, we need to transform our relationship with the planet — to make energy and material consumption sustainable, and to ensure every young person is educated and empowered to appreciate the wonders that a healthy world can provide.”

How people experience planetary pressures is tied to how societies work, says Pedro Conceição, Director of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office and lead author of the report, and today, broken societies are putting people and planet on a collision course.

Inequalities within and between countries, with deep roots in colonialism and racism, mean that people who have more capture the benefits of nature and export the costs, the report shows. This chokes opportunities for people who have less and minimizes their ability to do anything about it.

For example, land stewarded by indigenous peoples in the Amazon absorbs, on a per person basis, the equivalent carbon dioxide of that emitted by the richest 1 percent of people in the world. However, indigenous peoples continue to face hardship, persecution and discrimination, and have little voice in decision-making, according to the report.

And discrimination based on ethnicity frequently leaves communities severely affected and exposed to high environmental risks such as toxic waste or excessive pollution, a trend that is reproduced in urban areas across continents, argue the authors.

According to the report, easing planetary pressures in a way that enables all people to flourish in this new age requires dismantling the gross imbalances of power and opportunity that stand in the way of transformation.

Public action, the report argues, can address these inequalities, with examples ranging from increasingly progressive taxation, to protecting coastal communities through preventive investment and insurance, a move that could safeguard the lives of 840 million people who live along the world’s low elevation coastlines. But there must be a concerted effort to ensure that actions do not further pit people against planet.

“The next frontier for human development is not about choosing between people or trees; it’s about recognizing, today, that human progress driven by unequal, carbon-intensive growth has run its course,” said Pedro Conceição.

“By tackling inequality, capitalizing on innovation and working with nature, human development could take a transformational step forward to support societies and the planet together,” he said.

To learn more about the 2020 Human Development report and UNDP’s analysis on the experimental Planetary Pressures-Adjusted HDI, visit http://hdr.undp.org/en/2020-report.

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