Tag Archives: United Nations

‘Glimmer of Hope’ as UN Security Council Approves Gaza Cease-Fire Resolution

DISARMAMENT AND SECURITY .

An article by Brett Wilkins from Common Dreams

In a move that boosts the three-phase plan announced by President Joe Biden late last month, the United Nations Security Council on Monday voted 14-0—with permanent member Russia abstaining—in favor of a U.S.-sponsored resolution for a cease-fire in Gaza.


The ambassadors of the United Kingdom, United States, and Algeria raise their hands to vote in favor of a United Nations Security Council resolution for a cease-fire in Gaza in New York on June 10, 2024. (Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Russia chose not to exercise its power to veto the resolution, which urges Israel and Hamas to “fully implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

Responding to the vote, Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement that “although the Biden administration should have allowed the U.N. Security Council to pass a permanent cease-fire resolution many months and many slaughtered Palestinians ago, we welcome today’s development as a positive and long overdue step toward ending the genocide.”

“The Biden administration must now use American leverage to force [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to agree to a permanent cease-fire so that the massacres of Palestinian civilians can end, all hostages and political prisoners can safely go free, international tribunals can begin holding those responsible for war crimes accountable, and the world can finally begin pursuing a credible end to the illegal occupation of Palestine that has fomented decades of injustice and oppression.”

As U.N. News explained:

Phase one includes an “immediate, full, and complete cease-fire with the release of hostages including women, the elderly and the wounded, the return of the remains of some hostages who have been killed, and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.”

It calls for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from “populated areas” of Gaza, the return of Palestinians to their homes and neighborhoods throughout the enclave, including in the north, as well as the safe and effective distribution of humanitarian assistance at scale.

Phase two would see a permanent end to hostilities “in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

In phase three, “a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza” would begin and the remains of any deceased hostages still in the strip would be returned to Israel.”

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Question related to this article:

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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The council also underlined the proposal’s provision that if negotiations take longer than six weeks for phase one, the cease-fire will continue as long as negotiations continue.

“The only way to end this cycle of violence and build a durable peace is through a political settlement,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield—who vetoed several previous Security Council cease-fire resolutions— said following Monday’s vote.

The Biden administration has provided Israel with billions of dollars in military aid, arms and ammunition sales, and diplomatic cover.

In a statement, Hamas—which led the October 7 attack on Israel that left more than 1,100 people dead and over 240 others taken hostage—welcomed the resolution’s passage and affirmed  its willingness “to enter into indirect negotiations on the implementation of these principles.”

However, Reut Shapir Ben-Naftaly, Israel’s representative at the U.N., said her country’s objectives in the war have not changed and vowed to keep fighting “until all of the hostages are returned and Hamas’ military capabilities are dismantled.”

“Israel will not engage in meaningless and endless negotiations which can be exploited by Hamas as a means to stall for time,” she added.

According to Palestinian and international agencies, at least 37,124 Palestinians—mostly women and children—have been killed by Israeli forces during the 248-day Gaza onslaught, which is the subject of an International Criminal Court genocide case  brought by South Africa and supported by more than 30 nations and regional blocs. Nearly 85,000 Palestinians have also been injured. At least 11,000 other Palestinians are missing and believed buried beneath the rubble of hundreds of thousands of bombed-out buildings.

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan is seeking  arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders for alleged crimes including extermination.

Algerian Ambassador Amar Bendjama said  after Monday’s vote that “as a free and dignified people, the Palestinians will never accept living under occupation. They will never abdicate their fight for liberation.”

“This text is not perfect, but it offers a glimmer of hope to the Palestinians as the alternative is continued killing and suffering,” he added. “We voted for this text to give diplomacy a chance. It is time to halt the killing.”

The Security Council resolution’s passage follows last month’s vote by the U.N. General Assembly to recognize Palestinian statehood—a move supported  by 143 members of the World Body but vehemently opposed by Israel and the U.S. Only nine nations voted against recognizing Palestine as an independent state.

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2024 Theme for the International Day of Peace: Cultivating a Culture of Peace

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from the United Nations

The 2024 Theme for the International Day of Peace is “Cultivating a Culture of Peace”.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.

In that declaration, the United Nations’ most inclusive body recognized that peace “not only is the absence of conflict, but also requires a positive, dynamic participatory process where dialogue is encouraged and conflicts are solved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation.”

In a world with rising geopolitical tensions and protracted conflicts, there has never been a better time to remember how the UN General Assembly came together in 1999 to lay out the values needed for a culture of peace. These include: respect for life, human rights and fundamental freedoms; the promotion of non-violence through education, dialogue and cooperation; commitment to peaceful settlement of conflicts; and adherence to freedom, justice, democracy, tolerance, solidarity, cooperation, pluralism, cultural diversity, dialogue and understanding at all levels of society and among nations.

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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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In follow-up resolutions, the General Assembly recognized further the importance of choosing negotiations over confrontation and of working together and not against each other.

The Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) starts with the notion that “wars begin in the minds of men so it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”. It is this notion that framed the theme and logo of this year’s observance of the International Day of Peace. The ideas of peace, the culture of peace, need to be cultivated in the minds of children and communities through formal and informal education, across countries and generations.

The International Day of Peace has always been a time to lay down weapons and observe ceasefires. But it now must also be a time for people to see each other’s humanity. Our survival as a global community depends on that.

Background

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly. Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the Day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire.

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UN General Assembly presses Security Council to give ‘favourable consideration’ to full Palestinian membership

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

A news release from the United Nations

The UN General Assembly convened again in New York on Friday (May 10) for an emergency special session on the Gaza crisis and overwhelmingly passed a resolution which upgrades Palestine’s rights at the world body as an Observer State, without offering full membership. It urged the Security Council to give “favourable consideration” to Palestine’s request.

What does the resolution mean?

Here’s a quick recap of what this means: by adopting this resolution the General Assembly will upgrade the rights of the State of Palestine within the world body, but not the right to vote or put forward its candidature to such organs as the Security Council or the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Granting Palestinian membership requires a recommendation from the Security Council. At the same time, the Assembly determines that the State of Palestine is qualified for such status and recommends that the Security Council “reconsider the matter favourably”.

(Editor’s note: The negative vote of the United States on this resolution and their remarks quoted below suggest that they will continue to veto any resolution for UN membership of Palestine at the Security Council, as they did most recently on April 18).

None of the upgrades in status will take effect until the new session of the Assembly opens on 10 September.

Here are some of the changes in status that Palestine will have a right to later this year:

1. To be seated among Member States in alphabetical order
2. Make statements on behalf of a group
3. Submit proposals and amendments and introduce them
4. Co-sponsor proposals and amendments, including on behalf of a group
5. Propose items to be included in the provisional agenda of the regular or special sessions and the right to request the inclusion of supplementary or additional items in the agenda of regular or special sessions
6. The right of members of the delegation of the State of Palestine to be elected as officers in the plenary and the Main Committees of the General Assembly
7. Full and effective participation in UN conferences and international conferences and meetings convened under the auspices of the General Assembly or, as appropriate, of other UN organs

4:59 PM

Saudi Arabia: Re-establish the truth

Saudi Arabian Ambassador Abdulaziz Alwasil recalled General Assembly resolutions adopted over the years that reaffirmed the rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination.

“The resolution presented today is fully in line with those resolutions. It seeks to implement the will of the international community and contribute to building true peace in the Middle East based on the two-State solution,” he said.

“It is high time for the international community to re-establish the truth because the world can no longer ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people that has lasted for decades,” he added.

Ambassador Alwasil further noted Israel, the occupying power, has perpetrated “all sorts of crimes” against Palestinian people, scorning international law.

“Israel is convinced that they are above these resolutions and that they enjoy a certain level of immunity…which explains their ongoing hostile and brutal policies,” he said.

He highlighted the dire situation in Rafah, the last refuge for the Palestinian people which was also densely populated by those displaced from elsewhere and called he for a strong international position to put an end to the Israeli practices in Gaza.

Concluding his statement, the Ambassador expressed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to supporting the right of Palestinian people to self-determination and to build their own independent State within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with relevant resolutions. 

4:43 PM

China: Resolution reflects the will of the international community

Ambassador FU Cong of China said that Palestine should have the same status as Israel and that Palestinian people should enjoy the same rights as Israeli people.

“It is the common responsibility of the international community to support and advance the process of Palestinian independent Statehood, and provide strong support for the implementation of the two-State solution and a lasting peace in the Middle East,” he said.

He further noted that on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, the United States repeatedly used its veto “in an unjustified attempt” to obstruct the international community’s efforts to correct the “historical injustice long visited on Palestine”.

“It is not commensurate with the role of a responsible major country,” he said.

He also recalled the overwhelming support for the General Assembly resolution, adopted earlier in the day, reaffirming the right of Palestinian people to self-determination and recommending that the Security Council reconsider favourably its application to join the United Nations.

“China welcomes this historic resolution, which reflects the will of the international community,” Ambassador Fu said.

“We believe that the special modalities adopted within the limits permitted by the UN Charter will enable the international community to listen more adequately to the voice of Palestine and help it to talk and negotiate with Israel on a more equal footing.”

3:04 PM

Assembly President Francis resumed the meeting, with about 72 speakers left to take the floor. The spokesperson for the General Assembly announced earlier in the day that due to the number of remaining speakers, the meeting will likely continue on Monday.

1:07 PM

With the last speaker for the morning having delivered their statement, the President of the General Assembly adjourned the meeting. It will reconvene at 3 PM New York time.

1:00 PM

Switzerland: Ceasefire urgently needed

Swiss Ambassador Pascale Christine Baeriswyl explained that her country’s abstention from the vote was in line with its position at the Security Council last month.

“We felt that in view of the great instability prevailing in the region, this stage was not conducive to improving the situation,” she said.

“Without opposing it, we believe it would be preferable to consider admitting Palestine as a full member of the United Nations at time when such a step would insert itself in the logic of emerging peace,” she added, noting that such admission would have to follow the procedures enshrined in the UN Charter.

She also voiced Switzerland’s firm support to the two-State solution, stating that only a negotiated solution in which two States – Israel and Palestine – live side by side in peace and security can lead to lasting peace.

Ambassador Baeriswyl also voiced deep concern over the catastrophic situation of civilians in the ongoing conflict in Gaza, stating that it could worsen further in the event of a major Israeli military offensive in Rafah.

“Such a prospect is unacceptable, and Switzerland reaffirms its opposition to such an operation,” she said, emphasising the need to ensure protection of humanitarians and respect for international humanitarian and human rights laws.

In conclusion, she called for an immediate ceasefire.

“Safety of civilians must be ensured. All hostages must be released immediately and unconditionally, and safe, rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian aid must be allowed via all crossing points.”

12:10 PM

Firmly committed to two-State solution: UK

Barbara Woodward, Ambassador of the United Kingdom, said that her country remains “firmly committed” to the two-State solution that guarantees security and stability for both the Israeli and the Palestinian people.

“We are abstaining from this resolution because we believe the first step towards achieving this goal is resolving the immediate crisis in Gaza,” she said, emphasising that the fastest way to end the conflict is “to secure a deal which gets the hostages out and allows for a pause in the fighting”.

“We must then work together to turn that pause into a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.”

She added that “setting out the horizon” for a Palestinian State should be one of the vital conditions from moving from a pause in fighting to a sustainable ceasefire.

“Recognising a Palestinian State, including at the UN, should be part of that process,” she said.

Ambassador Woodward also noted that the UK remains deeply concerned about the prospect of a major operation in Rafah and that it will not support such an act, unless there is a “very clear plan” on protecting civilians as well as their access to aid and medical care.

“We have not seen that plan, so in these circumstances, we will not support a major operation in Rafah,” she said.

11:58 AM

France: High time for political solution

French Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière said his country voted in favour of the resolution, noting also the clarifications provided in the text on the right to vote and the right to be elected, which are the prerogatives of Member States alone.

“France recalls that the procedure for admitting a new Member State is defined by the UN Charter, and it must not be circumvented,” he said.

He also noted that France is in favour of the admission of Palestine as a full member of the Organization, which is why it voted in favour at the Security Council last month.

Reiterating his country’s condemnation of the terrorist attacks by Hamas and other groups on 7 October, Ambassador de Rivière stated France’s demand for a ceasefire and release of all hostages.

“The offensive that has started in Rafah risks causing numerous victims and displacing people at a time where nowhere can be deemed safe today in Gaza. There is further risk of disrupting delivery of aid,” he said, expressing his country’s opposition to the military operation.

“All parties must do everything they can to protect civilians and guarantee access for humanitarian aid. It is high time to mobilise for a political solution,” he added.

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Question(s) related to this article:

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

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

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11:46 AM

Statehood must be negotiated: US

Explaining the US’s negative vote, Ambassador Robert Wood said that it did not reflect opposition to Palestinian statehood.

“We have been very clear that we support it and seek to advance it meaningfully. Instead, it is an acknowledgement that statehood will come from a process that involves direct negotiations between the parties,” he said.

“There is no other path that guarantees Israel’s security and future as a democratic Jewish State. There is no other path that guarantees Palestinians can live in peace and dignity in a State of their own,” he added.

He further expressed the US commitment to intensifying its engagement with Palestinians and the rest of the Middle East region to advance a political settlement that will create a path to Palestinian statehood and subsequent membership in the UN.

“This resolution does not resolve the concerns about the Palestinian membership application raised in April in the Security Council…and should the  Security Council take up the Palestinian membership application as a result of this resolution, there will be a similar outcome,” he said.

11:24 AM

Draft resolution passed overwhelmingly

The vote is in. It has passed overwhelmingly with 143 countries in favour, nine against and 25 abstaining.

11:22 AM

The Assembly just voted to pass the draft resolution as long as two thirds agree.

11:18 AM

Pakistan: Resolution vote will determine strong support

Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan said there will come a day when Israel will be held accountable for the crimes committed against Palestinians, especially in Gaza.

The insults hurled today are “the arrogance of the aggressor” reflecting the impunity of the occupier, he said, explaining his delegation’s position ahead of the vote on the draft resolution.

He also expressed hope that the international community will appropriately respond in that regard.

The Ambassador underscored that the resolution’s adoption will determine the widespread support for Palestine to be accorded full UN membership.

11:05 AM

Russia: A moral duty

The Assembly is now preparing to vote on the draft resolution.

Before that, some countries are exercising their right to make statements before the vote, starting with Russia’s Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.

He is criticising the US, saying that the resolution is complicated because it is attempting to advance Palestinian membership as far as possible without provoking another veto from Washington on full membership.

He said Palestine deserves nothing less than full membership at the UN. 

“It is the moral duty of everyone,” he said.

“Only full-fledged membership will allow Palestine to stand alongside other members of the Organization and enjoy the rights that this status implies.”

10:55 AM

Israel: Extra benefits for Palestine would appease terrorists

Israel’s Ambassador Gilad Erdan said that after Hitler’s rise to power, the Nazis had sought to annihilate the Jewish people and all those they deemed sub-human, but the forces of good fought to return peace to the world, and the UN was founded to ensure that such tyranny never raised its head again.

“Today, you are doing the opposite…welcoming a terror State into its ranks,” he said. 

“You have opened up the United Nations to modern-day Naziism. It makes me sick.”

The terrorist group Hamas controls Gaza and has taken over areas of the West Bank, he said, holding up a poster showing Hamas’s leader, who he described as “a terrorist diplomat whose stated goal is Jewish genocide”.

“Today, you have a choice between weakness and fighting terror,” he said, adding that the UN is appeasing “murderous dictators” and destroying the UN Charter. “This day will go down in infamy.”

In closing, he held up a mini portable electric document shredder and inserted the cover of the UN Charter.

10:48 AM

Palestinian flag ‘flies high and proud’

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the observer State of Palestine, recounted the devastating impacts of the ongoing war in Gaza, with over 35,000 Palestinians killed, a further 80,000 injured and over two million displaced.

“No words can capture what such loss and trauma signify for Palestinians, their families, their communities and for our nation as whole,” he said.

He added that the Palestinians in Gaza have been pushed to the “very edge” of the Strip “to the very brink of life” with “bombs and bullets haunting them”.

Mr. Mansour highlighted that despite the attacks and destruction, the flag of Palestine “flies high and proud” in Palestine and across the globe, becoming a “symbol raised by all those who believe in freedom and its just rule”.

‘Lives cannot be restored’

“It is true that we will not disappear, but the lives lost cannot be restored,” he stated.

The Permanent Observer said people have to make a decision: stand by the right of a nation to live in freedom and dignity on its ancestral land, standing with peace and recognising the rights of Palestinians or they can stand on the sidelines of history.

Mr. Mansour said after holding observer status for 50 years, “we wish from all those who invoke the UN Charter to abide by the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination guaranteed by the Charter.”

“A ‘yes’ vote is a vote for Palestinian existence; it is not against any State, but it is against attempts to deprive us of our State,” he added, stating that it would be an investment in peace and empowering the forces of peace.

10:29 AM

Security Council must heed global call for Palestinian statehood: UAE

On behalf of the Arab Group, Mohamed Issa Hamad Mohamed Abushahab, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the UN, introduced the draft resolution, saying it recommends that the Security Council reconsider Palestine’s full UN membership application.

“Today marks a defining moment,” he said.

The State of Palestine has demonstrated that it deserves full membership in the international community by acceding to international treaties, adhering to the UN Charter and meeting requirements of statehood. In addition, more than 140 countries now recognise Palestine as a State, he said.

Voting for the resolution amid the ongoing conflict would support the two-State solution to the crisis, he said, adding that the Security Council must respond to the will of the international community.

Vote to take place at 11:00 AM

After delivering his statement, the UAE Ambassador called on the Assembly to vote on the draft at 11:00 AM New York time.

Members agreed to do so and would afterwards resume the debate.

10:17 AM

Middle East on course for ‘full-scale catastrophe’, warns General Assembly President Dennis Francis

Mr. Francis said from the podium of the Assembly Hall that the Israel-Palestine crisis was the original crisis before the world body when it was founded in 1946.

Peace has remained elusive, and today has become an untenable situation that is deteriorating “at an alarming speed”, he told delegates.

This is “bringing countless innocent victims into its deadly fold and pushing the region further to the brink of full-scale catastrophe”.

He urged the international community to not look away from the dire situation that has unfolded since the  7 October terror attacks and the ensuing Israeli devastation of Gaza.

End the scourge of war

“Today, let us remember the legacy from which we hail. We stand proudly upon the shoulders of those who, many decades ago, recognised their ultimate responsibility to forge a peace that will banish the scourge and terror of war,” he urged.

“I therefore call upon the membership to purposely assess the situation before us, with nothing else in mind but a commitment to peace as our utmost ambition,” he said.

He called upon the parties to the conflict, supported by nations with leverage, to urgently come to an agreement on a ceasefire to bring to an end to the suffering of countless people and secure the release of all hostages.

“We must believe in the essential goodness of others,” he said, and “in the understanding that no problem of human relations is insoluble”, calling on them to help bring lasting peace, save lives and end the violence.

10:14 AM

He’s inviting the Assembly to recognise the fact that some members are in arrears with their mandatory contributions. If you don’t pay up, you lose your vote. Those are the rules. But, there are exceptions that have been made, including today. 

10:12 AM

The President of the General Assembly Dennis Francis has just gavelled in the resumed session on the Gaza crisis.

09:55 AM

Aid operations have come to a standstill since the start of the military’s ground operation in Rafah this week, with an estimated 100,000 Palestinians displaced once again in a highly fluid situation, according to humanitarians.

The Assembly is also expected to vote on a draft resolution, co-sponsored by a group of countries, concerning the status of the observer State of Palestine at the United Nations.

Read our explainer on Palestine’s status at the UN here.

The draft resolution follows the veto cast by United States at the Security Council on 18 April, which blocked Palestine’s admission as a full UN Member State. That draft resolution, submitted by non-permanent Council member Algeria, had received 12 votes in favour, with Switzerland and the United Kingdom abstaining.

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UN Women: Rebuilding the women’s movement in Afghanistan, one organization at a time

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from UN Women

After the Taliban takeover, former magazine-owner Siamoy* redirected her work towards women’s empowerment and capacity-building. Focusing on the most vulnerable women, including illiterate women and women with disabilities, her NGO now provides training and start-up funding for women-led businesses in five provinces.

“UN Women gave us hope – the kind of hope I had lost after the Taliban takeover,” says Siamoy. “I was in a deep depression. I thought I would go crazy. I had lost everything. … But now, thanks to UN Women, I have an office and employees.”

Hers is among the 113 women’s organizations being supported across 19 provinces through the ‘Rebuilding the Women’s Movement in Afghanistan’ programme. Launched in mid-2022, the UN Women programme provides tailored training, skills-building and seed funds for small-scale initiatives.


UN Women’s support includes a comprehensive set of training to help women’s organizations improve the way they operate. Photo: UN Women/Sayed Habib Bidell

Women’s rights and employment in Afghanistan 

According to International Labour Organization data, women’s employment rate was 25 per cent lower by the end of 2022 compared to before the Taliban takeover in 2021. With women also banned from working in national and international NGOs as of December 2022, and allowed to pursue a limited number of professions and run home-based small businesses, this programme is providing an essential lifeline for women to build their skills for future work and restore their hope.

“In this difficult situation, UN Women is standing with us,” adds Siamoy. “We will get stronger through this support. If we support 20 women, those women will help another 20 women.”

Since partnering with UN Women in October 2023, Siamoy is now able to pay seven full-time employees. They’ve also received five training sessions on strategic planning and project management.

“The training on project management is one of the best I’ve ever received,” she says. “I’ve changed some of my goals. I don’t want to work for just 20 or 40 women in Faryab anymore. I want to work for 500 to 1,000 women across Afghanistan. I don’t just want to give them tailoring machines. I want to build a factory for them to have a lifetime source of income. I’m dreaming big now.”

In a village in Ghor Province*, 43-year-old Bita* secretly surveys women to find out who are most in need. She established a local organization in 2011 that ran projects for elderly women but had to cease its activities. It wasn’t until 2022 that she was able to revive it, after partnering with UN Women.

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Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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“When we established our organization, we had just a few members, no formal policies, plans or real structure,” Bita admits. “But a UN Women colleague supported us with developing a policy. Another colleague helped us devise our organization’s structure.  … This has boosted our confidence.”

Building skills, capacity and hope for women in Afghanistan

In Mazar, Balkh Province, 30-year-old Najiba* had established a women’s organization in 2019 and was working as a manager at a private company. But after losing her job following the Taliban takeover, she decided to focus her energy on her organization.

With support from UN Women since January 2024, Najiba can now pay her 10 employees, who hadn’t earned any income since joining. She says training on management, monitoring and proposal-writing have all been extremely helpful.

“We now have a lot of information, which has opened a window of hope for us, especially on safeguarding [beneficiaries from risks] – a topic we learned about for the first time. Trainings on how to make policies and define our goals have also helped us refine and make ours more professional,” says Najiba.

In Baghlan, 23-year-old former medical student Kamela* is a programme officer with a women-led organization dedicated to capacity-building for women and youth, who also received training from UN Women on project management.

“A key lesson I took from the training is my value as a programme manager. Employees have power and I must recognize my power and that what I am doing is really important,” says Kamela.

“The training motivates us to do more. … we’re starting from the ground-up to help each other. UN Women is so supportive, regularly coming to our office to coach us. They tell us that we are doing good, then tell us how we can do things even better. They tell us how to be more impactful with our actions and guide us step-by-step and face-to-face. When we go to the UN Women office, they convey knowledge in a way that really motivates us.”

According to UN Women Special Representative in Afghanistan Alison Davidian, supporting women-led grass-roots organizations is not only helping to keep them afloat but preparing them for future larger-scale work: “This is UN Women’s value added – our commitment to investing in women’s organizations, not only financially but through long-term, consistent technical investment and capacity-building to ensure their success, motivate them and promote their sustainability.”

As of May 2024, the “Rebuilding the Women’s Movement in Afghanistan” flagship programme has partnered with 113 organizations in 19 provinces and supported at least 515 women earn salaries. This programme is made possible through the generous support of donors including: the Governments of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

* Names, locations, and details changed to protect the identity of the protagonists. They are also not shown in the accompanying photos.

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‘Make Peace More Profitable Than War,’ UN General Assembly Hears, as It Adopts Text to Mark 25 Years Of Landmark Declaration on Culture of Peace

DISARMAMENT AND SECURITY .

An article from the United Nations

As speakers discussed the importance of collective efforts to promote a culture of peace in a world torn by conflict and crisis, the General Assembly today adopted a draft resolution in pursuit of that goal, in addition to draft texts on a variety of other topics.

The draft resolution titled “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/78/L.57), adopted without a vote, proposes several activities to observe the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action, including the convening of a day-long high-level forum during the 163-member organ’s seventy-eighth session. 


Presentation of resolution by Bangladesh ambassador Muhammad Abdul Muhith.

The representative of Bangladesh, who introduced the draft, recalled that Dhaka, in 1998, initiated the process leading to the Declaration, stating that his country — born out of a devastating war rooted in discrimination, intolerance and subjugation — made promoting peace fundamental to its foreign policy.  Today, amid spiralling conflict, “we must rekindle the brighter and harmonious faculties of the human minds, foster respect for equality and equal value of all human beings,” he urged. “And, most importantly, we must make peace more profitable than war.” 

In a debate on the topic, Member States outlined their views on what must be done at the international and national levels to promote a culture of peace in a fractious global context.

The representative of Brunei Darussalam, speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recognized the necessity of institutionalizing a culture of prevention amid today’s sustainable-development challenges, socioeconomic inequalities and discrimination.  Voicing concern over borderless threats — such as extremist ideologies — she underscored the need to promote tolerance and mutual respect, adding: “Achieving peace among peoples and nations requires collective efforts, transcending individual endeavours.”

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Question for this article:

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

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Similarly, the representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, underlined the importance of multilateralism and observed: “This is the only way to respond collectively and efficiently to global crises, challenges and threats that no one can tackle alone.”  Additionally, she underscored the need to ensure freedom of the press and to protect civic space, both online and offline, and spotlighted the importance of safeguarding freedom of religion and instilling a culture of peace in children through inclusive, quality education.

For his part, Venezuela’s representative, speaking for the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, warned against mistakenly justifying racism, racial discrimination and hate speech by invoking the freedom of expression.  In that context, he condemned anti-religious sentiment, the glorification of Nazism and the stigmatization of migrants.  “Fostering understanding and respect among various cultures and religions is of paramount importance in our shared pursuit of global peace,” he emphasized.

Bahrain’s representative, also stressing the need to promote dialogue, understanding and mutual respect among religions, detailed his country’s efforts to promote tolerance and coexistence at the international and regional levels.  These include establishing the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence and calling for the adoption of an international convention to criminalize religious or racial hate speech.  He also joined others in calling on the international community to shoulder its responsibility and stop the “current catastrophic humanitarian situation” in Gaza.

“Development and prosperity cannot be envisaged in a society that does not enjoy peace,” such as in Gaza, stressed the representative of Mauritania, also pointing out:  “We cannot preserve peace and stability in the midst of poverty and inequality.” Mauritania, therefore, created a national commission to provide health and education services and assist the victims of historical injustice.  He also spotlighted his country’s diplomatic efforts to enshrine peace in Africa.

In the same vein, Togo’s peace strategy for the Sahel and West Africa is based on exporting its vision of positive, authentic peace “which goes beyond the simple lack of war”, said that country’s representative.  Such vision supports democratic transitions, reconciliation efforts through mediation and inclusive governance, he said, also stressing that African ownership and responsibility are key concepts for managing crises on the continent.  Underlining the African Union’s peace and security architecture, he quoted former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela to observe:  “It is so easy to break and to destroy — heroes are those who make peace and who build.”

(Editor’s note: The resolution was initially proposed by Bangladesh, Kiribati, Qatar, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan and United Republic of Tanzania and eventually co-sponsored by 112 countries. The exact list of co-sponsors had not yet been published by the UN as of May 9. The resolution this year is the same as last year’s resolution except for three paragraphs stressing that this year is the 25th anniversary of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.)

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UN Security Council Holds Rare Nuclear Disarmament Debate

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Daryl G. Kimball and Shizuka Kuramitsu in Global Issues

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa a rare, high-level UN Security Council meeting on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation on March 18.

Although the meeting underscored the urgency of addressing the growing threats posed by nuclear weapons, it also highlighted the chronic divisions among key states on disarmament and nonproliferation issues.

“The world now stands on the cusp of reversing decades of declines in nuclear stockpiles. We will not stop moving ahead to promote realistic and practical efforts to create a world without nuclear weapons. Japan cannot accept Russia’s threats to break the world’s 78-year record of the nonuse of nuclear weapons,” she added.


Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa chairs a UN Security Council meeting on nuclear disarmament in New York on March 18. She has warned that “the world now stands on the cusp of reversing decades of declines in nuclear stockpiles.” Credit: Japanese Foreign Ministry

UN Secretary-General António Guterres; Robert Floyd, executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization; and Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, director of the nonproliferation program at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, were invited to brief the meeting.

All Security Council members were represented, including the five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Many stressed the urgency of addressing growing nuclear weapons threats.

But the exchange also underscored the extent to which rising geopolitical tensions and long-standing divisions among leading states impede tangible progress on disarmament and nonproliferation issues.

In his opening remarks, Guterres warned that “umanity cannot survive a sequel to Oppenheimer. Voice after voice, alarm after alarm, survivor after survivor are calling the world back from the brink.”

“And what is the response?” he asked. “States possessing nuclear weapons are absent from the table of dialogue. Investments in the tools of war are outstripping investments in the tools of peace. Arms budgets are growing, while diplomacy and development budgets are shrinking.”

Guterres said the nuclear-armed states in particular “must re-engage” to prevent any use of a nuclear weapon, including by securing a no-first-use agreement, stopping nuclear saber-rattling, and reaffirming moratoriums on nuclear testing.

He urged them to take action on prior disarmament commitments under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), including reductions in the number of nuclear weapons “led by the holders of the largest nuclear arsenals, the United States and the Russian Federation, who must find a way back to the negotiating table to fully implement the and agree on its successor.”

To catalyze action, he reiterated his call for “reforms to disarmament bodies, including the Conference on Disarmament …that could lead to a long-overdue fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.”

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield criticized Russia’s “irresponsible…nuclear rhetoric” and said that “China has rapidly and opaquely built up and diversified” its nuclear arsenal. In addition, “Russia and China have remained unwilling to engage in substantive discussions around arms control and risk reduction,” she said.

Thomas-Greenfield reiterated the U.S. offer to “engage in bilateral arms control discussions with Russia and China, right now, without preconditions.”

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, said that his country shares “the noble goal” of a nuclear-weapon-free world. Nevertheless, he described the possession of nuclear weapons as “an important factor in maintaining the strategic balance.”

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

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Polyanskiy countered criticism of Russian nuclear threats by charging that it is the “clearly Russo-phobic line of the United States and its allies creates risks of escalation that threaten to trigger a direct military confrontation among nuclear powers.”

He said the current situation is largely the result of the “years-long policy of the United States and its allies aimed at undermining the international architecture of arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation.”

Polyanskiy added, “As for the issues of strategic dialogue between Russia and the United States with a view to new agreements on nuclear arms control, they cannot be isolated from the general military-political context. We see no basis for such work in the context of Western countries’ attempts to inflict a ‘strategic defeat’ on Russia and their refusal to respect our vital interests.”

Maltese Ambassador Vanessa Frazier called on the nuclear-weapon states to fulfill their disarmament obligations under the NPT. “Current tensions cannot be an excuse for the delay…. Rather they should be a reason to accelerate the implementation,” she said.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun acknowledged that “the risk of a nuclear arms race and a nuclear conflict is rising” and “he road to nuclear disarmament remains long and arduous.”

He reiterated Beijing’s long-standing position that “nuclear weapons states should explore feasible measures to reduce strategic risks, negotiate and conclude a treaty on no first use of nuclear weapons against each other” and “provide legally binding negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states.”

Apparently in response to U.S. criticism of a Chinese nuclear buildup and refusal to engage in substantive arms control and risk reduction talks, Zhang said these “allegations against China do not hold any water.”

“Demanding that countries with vastly different nuclear policies and number of nuclear weapons should assume the same level of nuclear disarmament and nuclear transparency obligations is not consistent with the logic of history and reality, nor is it in line with international consensus, and as such will only lead international nuclear disarmament to a dead end,” the Chinese envoy said.

Some states proposed new initiatives. In response to U.S. concerns that Russia may be pursuing an orbiting anti-satellite system involving a nuclear explosive device, Japan and the United States announced they will “put forward a Security Council resolution, reaffirming the fundamental obligations that parties have under this Treaty,” which prohibits the deployment of weapons in space. (See ACT, March 2024.)

Japan also announced the establishment of a cross-regional group called Friends of FMCT “with the aim to maintain and enhance political attention” and to expand support for negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.

For decades, the 65-nation CD has failed to agree on a path to begin FMCT talks. Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Nigeria, the Philippines, the UK, and the United States will join the FMCT group, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

High-level Security Council debates focused on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation have been infrequent in the post-Cold War era, and few of them result in consensus statements or resolutions.

In 2009, the council held a summit-level meeting chaired by U.S. President Barack Obama on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. It adopted Resolution 1887, which reaffirmed a “commitment to the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons” and outlined a framework of measures for reducing global nuclear dangers.

In September 2016, the council adopted Resolution 2310, which reaffirmed support for the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It called on states to refrain from resuming nuclear testing and called on states that have not signed or ratified the treaty to do so without further delay.

More recently, the council has held briefings on nuclear disarmament issues but without tangible outcomes.

The last such meetings were in March 2023, when Mozambique chaired a discussion on threats to international peace and security, including nuclear dangers, and in August 2022, when China organized a meeting on promoting common security through dialogue in the context of escalating tensions among major nuclear powers.

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South Africa requests ICJ emergency orders to halt “unspeakable” Gazan genocide

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Pearls and Irritations

“Israel is now massacring desperate, starving Palestinians seeking to obtain food for their slowly-dying children.” The situation in Gaza is now so terrifying as to be unspeakable, writes South Africa in an urgent request for the International Court of Justice to issue additional provisional measures to stop Israel’s genocide.

South Africa today filed an urgent request with the International Court of Justice for the indication of additional provisional measures and the modification of the Court’s Order of 26 January 2024 and decision of 16 February 2024 in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel), according to the ICJ in a press release dated 6 March.

In its request, South Africa states that it is “compelled to return to the Court in light of the new facts and changes in the situation in Gaza — particularly the situation of widespread starvation — brought about by the continuing egregious breaches of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide . . . by the State of Israel . . . and its ongoing manifest violations of the provisional measures indicated by this Court on 26 January 2024”.

It requests the Court to indicate further provisional measures and/or to modify the provisional measures indicated it its Order of 26 January 2024, pursuant to Article 41 of the Statute of the Court and Article 75, paragraphs 1 and 3, and Article 76, paragraph 1, of the Rules of Court, respectively, “in order urgently to ensure the safety and security of 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, including over a million children”. It urges the Court to do so without holding a hearing, in light of the “extreme urgency of the situation”.

The situation in Gaza described by the ICJ as “perilous” on 16 February, “is now so terrifying as to be unspeakable… justifying — and indeed demanding — the indication of further provisional measures of protection,” argued South Africa.

South Africa’s has requested that the ICJ make the following additional provisional measures and modification to existing measures:

1. “All participants in the conflict must ensure that all fighting and hostilities come to an immediate halt, and that all hostages and detainees are released immediately.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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

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2. “All Parties to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide must, forthwith, take all measures necessary to comply with all of their obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

3. “All Parties to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide must, forthwith, refrain from any action, and in particular any armed action or support thereof, which might prejudice the right of the Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide and related prohibited acts, or any other rights in respect of whatever judgment the Court may render in the case, or which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.

4. “The State of Israel shall take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address famine and starvation and the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in Gaza, by: (a) immediately suspending its military operations in Gaza; (b) lifting its blockade of Gaza; (c) rescinding all other existing measures and practices that directly or indirectly have the effect of obstructing the access of Palestinians in Gaza to humanitarian assistance and basic services; and (d) ensuring the provision of adequate and sufficient food, water, fuel, shelter, clothing, hygiene and sanitation requirements, alongside medical assistance, including medical supplies and support.

5. “The State of Israel shall submit an open report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to all provisional measures ordered by the Court to date, within one month as from the date of this Order.”

“Palestinian children are starving to death as a direct result of the deliberate acts and omissions of Israel — in violation of the Genocide Convention and of the Court’s Order. This includes Israel’s deliberate attempts to cripple the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (‘UNRWA’), on whom the vast majority of besieged, displaced and starving Palestinian men, women, children and babies depend for their survival,” write South Africa.

The latest death toll from Israel’s assault on Gaza stands at 30,717 people killed, including more than 12,300 children and 8,400 women. More than 72,156 Palestinians have been injured.

 Read the full text of South Africa’s submission to the International Court of Justice here: APPLICATION OF THE CONVENTION ON THE PREVENTION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE IN THE GAZA STRIP (SOUTH AFRICA V. ISRAEL)

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International Women’s Day 2024: ‘Invest in women: Accelerate progress’ 

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from UN Women

In a world facing multiple crises that are putting immense pressure on communities, achieving gender equality is more vital than ever. Ensuring women’s and girls’ rights across all aspects of life is the only way to secure prosperous and just economies, and a healthy planet for future generations.  

One of the key challenges in achieving gender equality by 2030  is an alarming lack of financing  with a staggering USD 360 billion annual deficit in spending on gender-equality measures.  

The time for change is now! Join us on 8 March 2024 for International Women’s Day as we rally behind the call to “Invest in women: Accelerate progress”. 

Take a stand and join the conversation with the #InvestInWomen hashtag. Here are five key areas that need our joint action to ensure women are not left behind:

Investing in women: A human rights issue

Time is running out. Gender equality remains the greatest human rights challenge. Investing in women is a human rights imperative and cornerstone for building inclusive societies. Progress for women benefits us all.

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

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Question related to this article:
 
Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Ending poverty 

The COVID pandemic, geopolitical conflicts, climate disasters, and economic turmoil have pushed an extra 75 million people into severe poverty, since 2020. This could lead to more than 342 million women and girls living below the poverty line  by 2030, making immediate action crucial. 
 
Implementing gender-responsive financing

Due to conflicts and rising fuel and food prices, recent estimates suggest that 75 per cent of countries will curb public spending by 2025. Austerity negatively impacts women and crowds out public spending on essential public services and social protection.

Shifting to a green economy and care society

The current economic system exacerbates poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation, disproportionately affecting women and marginalized groups. Advocates for alternative economic models propose a shift towards a green economy and care society  that amplifies women’s voices.

Supporting feminist change-makers

Feminist organizations are leading efforts to tackle women’s poverty and inequality. However, they are running on empty, receiving a meagre 0.13 per cent of total official development assistance

Get the facts

Dive into UN Women’s exclusive editorial package this International Women’s Day and discover the power of investing in women. Explore compelling stories, data, and strategies to drive positive change.

JOIN THE MOVEMENT TOWARDS GENDER EQUALITY AND INCLUSIVE GROWTH!

This International Women’s Day, let’s come together to transform these challenges into opportunities and shape a better future for all! 

Last Days of Hearings at the International Court of Justice on the Israeli Occupation of Palestine

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from the United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe

The advisory opinion requested by the United Nations General Assembly from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in December 2022 led to hearings that began on 19 February (read more about the first few days of the hearing in our first article and continued until 26 February, with 52 states and three international organisations  presenting their opinions.


Photo copyright ICJ

Iran Criticises “Inaction” of the Security Council

The Islamic Republic of Iran highlighted the “seriousness” of the situation in Gaza on 22 February, pointing to “the inaction or insufficient action of the Security Council, if not the main, is one of the main causes of the prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territories. All the atrocities and crimes committed by the Israeli régime in the past almost 80 years are a consequence of such inaction. Even today, the Security Council is paralysed due to the stalemate caused by a certain permanent Member.”

Iran called for an end to cooperation in all its forms, whether “political, military, economic, or other”, with Israel to prevent it from “continuing its prolonged occupation,” as well as for the “complete termination of all its military operations in the Gaza Strip.”

Iraq and Jordan Demand End of Occupation

Iraq argued for the ICJ’s jurisdiction in the ongoing procedure, noting that the Court had already issued an advisory opinion on the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall in the Occupied Territories  in 2004.
In this opinion, the Court had determined that “the construction of the wall and the regime associated with it created on the ground a ‘fait accompli’ that could become permanent and, as such, amount to a de facto annexation,” in violation of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

Baghdad also called for “the respect (…) under any circumstance or in any place” for the opinion rendered by the ICJ on 26 January in the context of South Africa’s complaint against Israel for “genocide” in Gaza, “in order to stop the systematic killing machine against the Palestinian people.”

Speaking for Jordan, Ayman Safadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, spoke of the horrors of war in Gaza, where “children are operated on without anaesthesia.” He stated that “in Gaza, Palestinians are dying by Israel’s war. They are also dying from hunger and lack of medication, as Israel prevents the delivery of food and medicine in violation of international humanitarian law and in defiance of the provisional measures you have ordered. This aggression has to end and end immediately. Israel is acting and has been allowed to act in complete disregard of international law. That cannot continue.”

Asserting that “the occupation is illegal and inhumane,” he urged the Court to “rule that the Israeli occupation, the source of all evil, must end.”

13 Additional Countries Discuss Reparations

Visibly moved, Ali Ahmad Ebraheem S. Al-Dafiri, Ambassador of Kuwait to the Netherlands, stated that “the unprecedented violence in Gaza is a result of 57 years of illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, and it must stop.” Kuwait also demanded an end to the occupation and a negotiated two-state solution along the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. It added that “the occupying Power is under the obligation to make full reparation for the injury caused by its occupation and discriminatory policies and practices.”

Lebanon highlighted that the ICJ had already affirmed in 2004 in its opinion on the construction of the wall that Israel was “obliged to return the lands, orchards, olive groves, and other real property seized to any natural or legal person.” Lebanon added that Israel “is also obliged to cease its violation of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories, and to recognise the State of Palestine. And to provide reparations.”

Similarly, Libya, Syria, Malaysia, Ireland, Namibia, Oman, Indonesia, Slovenia, Tunisia, Spain, and the Maldives advocated for reparations through restitution or compensation. In total, 19 countries advocated for reparations during the six days of hearings.

The United Kingdom urges the ICJ not to respond to the request for an advisory opinion.

On 23 February, the United Kingdom reiterated many of the arguments previously made in writing by the United States, Canada, Fiji, Hungary, and Zambia, arguing for respect for the existing framework within the Security Council to allow for a negotiated solution to progress.
London went further, asking the Court not to issue a ruling due to the way the questions posed by the General Assembly were formulated. These two questions amount to “taking the entire Palestine question to be looked at by the highest court in the globe,” as stated by the United States.

According to the United Kingdom, the Court cannot interfere in a dispute between two parties, as mentioned in its 1975 advisory opinion on Western Sahara, without the consent of both parties.

Furthermore, the Court could “draw legal conclusions on an incorrect factual basis” due to not only the ongoing conflict but also the extent of the documentation required: “the entire factual record stretching back some 57 years and a United Nations dossier spanning nearly 30,000 pages.”

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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

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Finally, the United Kingdom believes that the framework established by the Security Council, with resolutions 242 and 338, envisions Israel’s withdrawal from the Occupied Territories through negotiation, not a judicial decision.

… while many countries defended the Court’s jurisdiction

Ireland condemns the 7 October attacks but believes that “these limits have been exceeded by Israel in its military response to the Hamas attack.”

Rossa Fanning, Attorney General of Ireland, stated that his country “believes that clarification now, by this Court, of the international law issues raised by the prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territory will assist in providing a stable foundation upon which to build a just resolution” of the conflict.

“Several States have suggested that this request for an advisory opinion is an attempt to resolve a bilateral dispute without the consent of one of the parties to that dispute. We very much regret that Israel has chosen not to engage with the subject matter of the request. (…) However, in our view, the issue of the Occupied Palestinian Territory is directly of concern to the United Nations itself, and it goes much further than a mere bilateral dispute.”

The ICJ’s jurisdiction was defended by many States, including Norway, which emphasised a situation of “de facto annexation” in the Palestinian Territories, Pakistan,  Spain,  Japan, and China, which expressed its support “for the just cause of the Palestinian people.”  Switzerland stated that “Israel has legitimate security concerns, but also the obligation to respect international law.”

Abdel Sattar Issa, Ambassador of Lebanon to the Netherlands, argued that “asking the Court not to intervene, not to give its advisory opinion in the name of a bilateral negotiation process to be protected, a political solution to be preserved, is a perverse argument that creates antagonism between the political and the legal when they are, in any society, including the international society, two complementary elements in dialectical relation. Law frames the political, prevents its drift, whether at the public or private level. Law guarantees a minimum of justice in relations.”

Similarly, Syria defended the Court’s jurisdiction at a time when “the Palestinian people find themselves with no real protection.” Ammar Al Arsan, Head of the Permanent Mission of the Syrian Arab Republic to the European Union in Brussels, stated, “We are here today to make sure that they – the occupiers – do not get away with impunity.”

“There is no peace process,” according to Indonesia.

Indonesia went further in opposing the argument made by the United States that the Court’s advisory opinion could impact a negotiated peace process: “First, there is no viable peace process to be undermined. Israel has been consistently obstructing a negotiated two-state solution that is in line with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. (…)

After all, negotiation with someone holding a gun against your head is not a negotiation at all (…). Just last November, Prime Minister Netanyahu even boasted, “I’m proud that I prevented the establishment of a Palestinian State”.

This argument was echoed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which includes 57 States: “Are there ongoing negotiations between Israel and Palestine? The truth about this matter is that there are none. It is a myth that has been artificially maintained for a long time, but which, in light of events, has collapsed by the admission of the parties involved.”

Qatar advocates for labelling of Israel’s practices as “apartheid.”

Qatar’s position, outlined by Mutlaq Bin Majed Al-Qahtani, ambassador to the Netherlands, highlighted a “growing perception in some quarters that international law applies to some, but not to others. That some peoples are seen as deserving of security, freedom and self-determination, but others are not. Some children are deemed worthy of the law’s protection, but others are killed in their thousands. Qatar rejects such double standards.”

Qatar denounced violence that has become “part of the fabric of life for Palestinians even before the beginning of the occupation in 1967. And Gaza has always paid the highest price. In the 15 years before 7 October, Israeli military campaigns killed 5,365 Palestinians in Gaza, the majority of whom were undisputedly civilians.”

The ambassador mentioned the increase in violence in the West Bank and “the systematic persecution of human rights organisations and journalists,” referring to the death of Shireen Abu Akleh from the Qatari channel Al Jazeera, “murdered by Israeli forces on 11 May 2022.”

Qatar urged the ICJ to label the occupation of the Palestinian Territories as an apartheid regime, an argument advanced by 25 participants in the hearings, so that the “the international community, including the General Assembly, can activate similar mechanisms for bringing about an end of the occupation as it did with the apartheid régime in South Africa. This is the surest path to truth, justice, and, yes, reconciliation.”

Three international organisations speak out.

On 26 February, the last day of hearings, the Arab League called for an end to the occupation and the “immediate” withdrawal of all Israeli settlers from the Occupied Territories.

The OIC concluded its presentation with these words: “The unfounded and unpunished violence that Israel exercises over the Palestinians leads to more violence in response. It is a vicious cycle, that of vengeance, which is always to the advantage of the strongest. This is the deadly cycle of violence that tragically unfolds before our eyes. To break it, an impartial third party, affirming the common standard with authority, is needed.”

Finally, the African Union (AU) declared that “Israel’s aggression against Gaza is nothing but a shameful attempt to create a new Nakba ⎯ , a new catastrophe aimed at erasing the Palestinian presence in Palestine.”

The Court has entered into deliberation before issuing an advisory opinion that will be given at a later date.

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English bulletin March 1, 2024

CULTURE OF PEACE AS A VISION FOR THE FUTURE

The United Nations Summit for the Future, planned for September 2024, calls for a vision for the future. In their proposals submitted to the Summit some have proposed that it should re-commit the UN to the culture of peace.

In her proposal, Anne Creter says that “Culture of Peace is a comprehensive, UN established “blueprint” or “roadmap” of actions necessary at all levels of existence to manifest sustainable peace.” She sites in particular the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace A/RES/53/243 adopted by the General Assembly (GA) in 1999, saying that it “must be integrated into A Pact for the Future.”

In her proposal, Myrian Castello calls for “future characterized by sustainability, inclusivity, and a culture of peace.” She promotes specifically the Declaration for the transition to a culture of peace in the XXI Century.

In their proposal, the International Alliance of Women “recalls the banner in front of the NGO peace tent in Huairou during the 4th UN World Conference on Women 1995 reading “Change the Culture of War to a Culture of Peace”.

And in his proposal, Paul Malliet asks for a UN Council of Peace that could eventually make up for the impotence of the Security Council. He calls attention to the UN A/RES/52 -243. “Declaration and Programme for a culture of peace”; as an existing initiative that requires structure to be effective.

A vision of a transition to a global culture of peace through radical reform of the United Nations is provided in the utopian novella, I have seen the promised land.

The countries of the Global South plan to play a major role in the UN Summit. Concluding from their Summit that took place in January in Kampala they says that the more than 100 countries involved “hope to play an influential role in shifting the balance of the geopolitical landscape from conflict, confrontation and mistrust to diplomacy, dialogue, peace and understanding.”

Although the outcome document of the Summit of the Global South is devoted primarily to economic reform, it does make explicit reference to the culture of peace: “We reaffirm that there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development. We stress the importance of building a culture of peace by strengthening multilateralism based on international law. . . ”

News of the Summit of the Global South was reported in English in at least 33 countries of the Global South, and probably many others in local languages. However, despite the participation of high-level representatives of more than 100 countries, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the UN General Assembly, the Summit received ABSOLUTELY NO mention by the major English-language news agencies of Europe and North America! As published in French in the journal L’Humanité , it was “un événement totalement passé sous silence dans les pays occidentaux.”

Among other visions, youth participants in the Luanda Biennale Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace say that “The spirit of the Biennale of Luanda inspires a new generation of young Africans that paved the way towards a peaceful and prosperous Africa.”

The culture of peace as a vision for the future is promoted in the recent book published in Norwegian by Ingeborg Breines: The Culture of Peace – Utopia or Alternative Security Policy? The author brings to the forefront a series of guiding documents, inspiring projects and publications such as the International Year for a Culture of Peace, the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World, the Manifesto 2000 on a Culture of Peace, the Seville Declaration on Violence, the Statement on Women’s Contribution to a Culture of peace, the Declaration on the Right to Peace and not least the Constitution of UNESCO.

Vince Two Eagles writes from the Sioux Indian Reservation of South Dakota that “In 1999, the General-Assembly adopted, by resolution 53/243, the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, which serves as the universal mandate for the international community, particularly the United Nations system, to promote a culture of peace and non-violence that benefits all of humanity, including future generations.”

Readers are invited to sign declarations and manifestos for peace.

The most recent is the Manifesto for Peace Media in the XXI Century which includes among its demands to “Carry out a preventive, slow and contextualized journalistic work that contributes to the de-escalation of conflicts and prioritizes the prospects for peace, before, during, and after the outbreak of violence.” The Manifesto is open for signatures here.

A Declaration of Peace, conceived and promoted by the organization World Beyond War, has now been signed by people in 196 countries. It says “I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace.” The Declaration is open for signatures here.

And specific for a culture of peace, the Declaration for the Transition to a Culture Of Peace in the XXII Century describes strategies in two simultaneous routes: local and global. The local route is fundamentally pedagogical and is carried out mainly by organized civil society with the support of local governments. The global route involves the expansion of the UN General Assembly, along with the formation of an international security council of mayors that would issue regular press releases demonstrating that the culture of peace could be achieved if the United Nations were governed by “we the peoples.” The Declaration is open for signatures here.

As discussed in a blog this month, during times of radical change, a collective vision for a new social order, such as that for a culture of peace, could give shape to the future.

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY



The UN Summit of the Future: a fight at the end of the tunnel?

HUMAN RIGHTS



World Court to Review 57-Year Israeli Occupation

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT



Greenpeace: Here are the REAL culprits of the agricultural crisis in France

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION



The Biennale of Luanda 2023 – Through eyes of its young participants

  

WOMEN’S EQUALITY



Proposal to the UN Summit of the Future from the International Alliance of Women

EDUCATION FOR PEACE



Johan Galtung: In Memoriam

TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY



Powerful Protest Against Racism Sweeps Germany

DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION



Manifesto for Peace Media in the 21St Century