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The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Selects Seven Youth-Led Organizations as Recipients of its Youth Solidarity Fund


A press release from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is pleased to announce the latest recipients of its Youth Solidarity Fund (YSF).

UNAOC received over 600 applications from 86 countries to consider for funding and capacity-building support. Seven youth-led organizations across three continents were selected, following a rigorous evaluation process, to implement projects contributing to the promotion of peaceful societies based on their creative approaches to building peaceful communities through intercultural and interfaith dialogue and their potential to have a positive impact on their respective communities.

The seven recipients join a group of 73 other youth-led organizations that have benefited from YSF. Since it was established in 2008, YSF has contributed to advancing the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2250 by providing opportunities for partnership, capacity-building and financial means to young people to carry out activities that prevent violent conflict, and promote peace and social inclusion.

Further, YSF continues to be one of the leading mechanisms in the UN system that works directly with young people to realize the Sustainable Development Goals and drive positive change in their communities and societies.

All of the selected projects are developed and implemented by young people. While their projects frequently target other young people, they have the potential to impact entire communities by involving religious and political leaders, policymakers, educational institutions, and media entities. UNAOC supports projects that reach out to, and connect, marginalized youth from diverse socioeconomic, cultural, and religious backgrounds to foster broader and transformative engagement of all youth and reduce polarization in their communities.

In addition to seed funding, YSF recipients receive technical support to strengthen the implementation of their projects. Workshops and training sessions to boost their intercultural and peacebuilding competencies are delivered alongside mentorship guidance to bolster
organizational development.

The Youth Solidarity Fund Recipients are:

1. Community Engagement for Peace and Conflict Resolution by Ikon Initiative for Sustainable Development, Sierra Leone

Ikon Initiative for Sustainable Development aims to address the issue of election-related violence in Bombali district, northern Sierra Leone, which often undermines electoral processes and generates unrest, hatred and mistrust among community members. By using intercultural dialogue, sports and drama, the initiative strives to promote peaceful coexistence, create safe spaces for open conversations, foster empathy and equip community members with conflict resolution skills.

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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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2. Amplifying Community Voices for Sustainable Peace in the Rwenzori region by Access Youth Initiative Uganda, Uganda

Access Youth Initiative Uganda aims to focus on strengthening engagement of young people in peacebuilding and preventing violent extremism through their meaningful inclusion in mediation platforms, dialogue sessions, youth camps and sport tournaments. The initiative seeks to develop youth peace champions while integrating intergenerational exchange, community service and mentorship with innovative information and communication technology and sports activities to build resilient relationships and engage in intercultural
conversations for peace.

3. Training of Young People to Promote Peace “NO KUDJI PAZ” by FINSJOR – Young Girls Social Intervention Forum, Guinea-Bissau

FINSJOR aims to increase awareness of young people to promote peacebuilding and conflict resolution in their communities and support the national development process by equipping young people with skills in non-violent communication. Additional activities, such as radio debates, school campaigns and conferences, will explore the root causes and consequences of ethnic tensions in the country.

4. Engaging Youth in Increasing Religious Tolerance Awareness through Online Peace Narrative Campaigns to Safeguard Religious Sites by Yayasan Pemberdayaan Masyarakat Indonesia Cerdas (YPMIC), Indonesia

YPMIC aims to respond to a rise in online radical religious views and vandalism of religious sites involving youth by actively engaging young people in creating and spreading peace narratives online and offline. The project aspires to increase religious tolerance among young people in South Sulawesi region through peace training, religious site visits, digital campaigns, talk shows and exhibitions.

5. Bridging Faiths: Fostering Interreligious Tolerance Among Muslim and Christin Youth in Zomba, Malawi by Zomba Center for Creative Arts (ZOCCA), Malawi

ZOCCA aims to address increased violence and incidents of religious intolerance among young people in Zomba, Malawi through sport, dialogue sessions, interfaith workshops, community service projects and cultural exchange events. These activities intend to promote interreligious dialogue, foster empathy and respect and encourage cooperation among young people from different faith backgrounds.

6. Detect, React, Protect by Youth for Peace, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Youth for Peace aims to address ever-present tensions and hate speech between people of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina by bringing together youth from both sides of the border to work together to foster better understanding among the two nations. Focusing on peace education and freedom of religion and belief, Youth for Peace will strive to create a space for safe interaction, open dialogues and and better relations.

7. Bridging Communities: Promoting Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue Among African and Egyptian Youth in Egypt – Diverse Voices, United Communities by AlMahrousa for Development and Participation (MDP), Egypt

MDP aims to bring youth from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds together with migrants and their peers in Greater Cairo communities to foster mutual understanding, collaboration and the promotion of the values of peace and inclusivity through youth-led workshops, interfaith and intercultural dialogues and public awareness campaigns. Young leaders from both groups will aim to develop plans of action and community initiatives to counter social polarization and ethnic/religious extremism.

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“Culture of Peace” Recommendation for UN summit “Pact for the Future”


Received at CPNN from Anne Creter, Peace Through Unity Charitable Trust

Today’s New Year’s Day opens with sharing the following “Culture of Peace “recommendation our UN NGO Global Movement for the Culture of Peace sub-group submitted yesterday (New Years Eve) as input to the big September 23-24, 2024 UN Summit of the Future “Pact for the Future” being developed now. 

The “actionable” evolutionary UN Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace A/RES/53/243 adopted by the General Assembly (GA) in 1999 must be integrated into A Pact for the Future (PACT) for greater UN innovation and synthesis, as it can provide a missing link helping the UN fulfill its mission to “end the scourge of war.” Aligned with the science of nonviolence, Culture of Peace is a comprehensive, UN established “blueprint” or “roadmap” of actions necessary at all levels of existence to manifest sustainable peace. If utilized in the PACT, Culture of Peace could provide a new, unified global structure for the UN to connect and coordinate worldwide peace actions for greater synergy and effectiveness. War will be inevitable until a better, rational, productive system is solidly in place providing the structure and platform for conflict resolution to routinely happen.

Chapter II: International peace and security:

The UN’s 75-year-old quest “to end the scourge of war” has paradoxically devolved into a worldwide culture of violence at this most dangerous inflection point in history. Thus, it is imperative that the advanced peacebuilding concept of the Culture of Peace be a focal point within this futuristic PACT, for it has received growing understanding and appreciation both at the UN and within civil society in the last 25 years. In keeping with its recently evolved history at the UN, A/RES/53/243 adds clear “actionable” guidance aligned with the relatively new field of peace studies at a time when the world is hopelessly paralyzed by the existential escalation of violence at all levels which, in becoming normalized, threatens even greater planetary peril. Examples of civil society “Infrastructures for Peace” based on A/RES/53/243 now making a difference in the world are the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission in Oregon USA and Rotary International showing great progress of peace at local city levels.

The landmark UN Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (A/RES/53/243) was adopted by the GA on 13 September 1999 after nine months of hard negotiations skillfully led by Bangladesh Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the UN; Founder of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace, who said: “I believe this document is unique in more than one way. It is a universal document in the real sense, transcending boundaries, cultures, societies and nations. Unlike many other GA documents, it is action-oriented and encourages actions at all levels, be they at the level of the individual, the community, the nation or the region, or at the global and international levels.” It defines Culture of Peace as a set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations. Per the A/RES/53/243 mandate, the Programme of Action by its pure “action” structure speaks to the PACT’s goal of “action-oriented” recommendations, citing actions at all levels that are necessary to build the Culture of Peace within the following Eight Areas of Action:

1) Fostering a culture of peace through education
2) Promoting sustainable economic and social development
3) Promoting respect for all human rights
4) Ensuring equality between women and men
5) Fostering democratic participation
6) Advancing understanding, tolerance and solidarity
7) Supporting participatory communication & free flow of information & knowledge
8) Promoting international peace and security

UNESCO was charged with writing the “Declaration and Programme of Action” led by David Adams, Former Director, UNESCO Unit for International Year for Culture of Peace. It is not by accident that the term originated at UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and “Cultural” Organization) at a meeting in Africa in 1989. For Culture appears in the very name of UNESCO which was established as the UN’s cultural organization. Culture here is defined in the broad anthropological sense, not in the narrow popular sense restricted to music, dance, and other arts. UNESCO was not concerned with culture for its own sake, but culture for the sake of peace. It made a distinction between the old concept of peace between sovereign states and a new concept of peace between peoples. UNESCO’s constitution preamble declared in 1946: “That a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind.” As UNESCO stated: “Each of these areas of action have been priorities of the UN since its foundation; what is new is their linkage through the culture of peace and non-violence into a single coherent concept. This is the first time all these areas are interlinked so the sum of their complementarities and synergies can be developed.”

Question for this article:

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

A/RES/53/243 gives clear guidelines on a new mode of governance which calls on the entire UN system; all governments, and all peoples to work together to build a more free, fair, and peaceful global neighborhood through a positive, dynamic participatory process where dialogue is encouraged, and conflicts are solved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation. It was a watershed moment when A/RES/53/243 was passed as never before had an “action-oriented” template been created based on the science of nonviolence articulating all the peacebuilding actions needed at every level from inner to international for world peace to take shape. A/RES/53/243 is innovative because it embodies this new peace knowledge by design, stating all the multi-dimensional, congruous actions that need to happen for the Culture of Peace to materialize. These preventative, multi-level actions by individuals and groups must be implemented and monitored in Member States to “end the scourge of war” – a function the UN could oversee by creating a “Culture of Peace Council” equal in status to the Security Council to balance its two main purposes of peace and security through developing national “Culture of Peace” Action Plans.

Culture of Peace is a clarion call for individual and collective transformation, indispensable for the safety, security and development of planet earth. Therefore, to make the PACT truly transformational, the concept of Culture of Peace must be integrated within it, reflective of the “new” positive view of peace. “Negative” peace is the absence of violence. Peace has traditionally been thought of simply as that. But we know now that peacebuilding is so much more. “Positive” peace is defined as the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies, like better economic outcomes, measures of well-being, levels of inclusiveness and environmental performance. “Positive” peace is transformational in that it is a cross-cutting factor for progress. Use of the word ‘Peace’ connotes “negative” peace, old paradigm thinking whereas ‘Culture of Peace’ connotes a new-paradigm “positive” peace mindset.

Culture of Peace has a recent rich history of evolution at the UN in the last 25+ years since A/RES/53/243 was first adopted in 1999. We are told it takes between ten to twenty years from the time UN resolutions are passed for them to be fully understood and utilized. Culture of Peace is no exception. The term was hardly ever used at the UN in the first ten years of its passage (the first decade of the new millennium). It took 12 years before the major breakthrough of the first High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace took place in 2012. That big milestone was first conceived back in the year 2000 when the International Year for the Culture of Peace was declared, along with its 2000 Manifesto for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence crafted by Nobel Laureates. Then from 2001 to 2010 there was the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World, producing Mid-Decade and End-of-Decade Culture of Peace Progress Reports, including a continuously running virtual Culture of Peace News Network of actions taken each month around the world in all eight of the Culture of Peace Areas of Action. Also, a UN NGO Culture of Peace Working Group which morphed into the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace NGO Coalition, along with 12 annual Culture of Peace High Level Forums with yearly self-standing GA Culture of Peace resolutions passed. Now that these milestones have been achieved, it is time for A/RES/53/243 to be fully utilized by being integrated within this forward-looking PACT.

Integrating Culture of Peace wisdom into the PACT would make that document more UN synthesized and wholistically complete, better enabling full implementation of A/RES/53/243. Culture of Peace is a state-of-the-art concept in human consciousness aligned within the powerful new discipline of peace studies. A/RES/53/243 provides a currently missing overarching peacebuilding framework on how to construct true and lasting world peace. Rendering it essential to the PACT would endow this major futuristic document genuine “new paradigm” relevance. So let Culture of Peace (already existing in the heart of humanity) become the foundation upon which our children and their children’s children can continue building the future civilization. As unleashing the knowledge of how to cultivate world peace in this way will accelerate desperately needed UN reform and transformation.

Chapter V: Transforming global governance:

Article 5 of A/RES/43/243 states that “governments have an essential role in promoting and strengthening a culture of peace.” Per the 2023 UN New Agenda for Peace Action #3 – one recommendation is to develop national prevention strategies to address the different drivers and enablers of violence and conflict in societies and strengthen national “Infrastructures for Peace.” Further that Member States seeking to establish or strengthen national “Infrastructures for Peace” should be able to access a tailor-made package of support and expertise. Uniting these 2 UN guiding principles “Culture of Peace and “Infrastructures for Peace” together would be an impactful step forward in UN fulfillment of its peace mission. For Culture of Peace establishes this UN peace vision as normative and prescribes the roadmap of actions needed at all levels to actualize it. Governmental “Infrastructures for Peace” such as “Departments and Ministries of Peace” are the roadways or platforms of peace architecture that support essential peace actions (like diplomacy) to readily occur so peace can take root and grow. Coupled together these two constructs give shape, form, and substance to building the “capacity” for peace by operationalizing and institutionalizing peacebuilding as the missing connective layer needed to sustain peace. Both principles are designed to prevent and reduce violence thus are mutually reinforcing. Integrated within the PACT, their synergistic impact of collaborative connection would facilitate significant UN reform and transformation.

UN NGO “Global Movement for the Culture of Peace” Signatories:

Peace Through Unity: Kate Smith, Director; Iris Spellings, UN NGO Representative; Anne Creter, UN NGO Alternate Representative

Pathways to Peace: Tezikiah Gabriel, Executive Director; David Wick, President

The Good News Agency – Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale: Georgina Galanis, UN NGO Representative


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South Africa Initiates Case Against Israel at International Court of Justice


An article by Julia Conley in Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

“No one knows apartheid like those who fought it before,” said  one Palestinian rights advocate on Friday in response to the news that South Africa has taken a “historic”  new step to hold Israel accountable for its relentless bombardment and violent yearslong occupation of Gaza—calling on the International Court of Justice to declare that Israel has breached its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

South Africans hold a Free Palestine March on December 16, 2023 in Eldorado Park, South Africa. (Photo by Laird Forbes/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in South Africa said  it is “gravely concerned with the plight of civilians caught in the present Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip due to the indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of inhabitants” and called on the ICJ to take action to force Israel to “immediately cease” its current attacks on Gaza’s 2.3 million residents.

The motion was filed as the death toll in Gaza surpassed 21,500 people and tens of thousands of displaced residents fled an Israeli ground offensive, as airstrikes continued in southern Gaza.

Noting that South Africa has consistently condemned all attacks on civilians, including the assault by Hamas on southern Israel on October 7, the country’s representatives at the ICJ said Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial, and [ethnic] group.”

“The acts in question include killing Palestinians in Gaza, causing them serious bodily and mental harm, and inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction,” reads the application filed at the ICJ.

South Africa took its latest action regarding Israel less than two weeks after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced  the government had submitted documents to the International Criminal Court (ICC) supporting its demand, made in November with several other countries, that the court investigate Israel for war crimes.

While the ICC prosecutes individuals and governments for committing war crimes, the ICJ operates under the United Nations to rule on disputes between countries. The ICJ’s orders are binding for Israel, as the country is a U.N. member state.

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Question related to this article:

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

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South Africa has joined international human rights experts—including the U.N.’s top expert on human rights in occupied Palestine—in saying Israel’s blockade of Gaza and violent treatment of those in the enclave and the West Bank is a form of apartheid, comparing Israeli policies to the racial segregation that was imposed for nearly five decades by the white minority that controlled South Africa.

Last month, the government voted to suspend diplomatic ties  with Israel until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government agrees to a permanent humanitarian cease-fire.

“South Africa has continuously called for an immediate and permanent cease-fire and the resumption of talks that will end the violence arising from the continued belligerent occupation of Palestine,” the government said Friday.

Journalist Jeremy Scahill was among those who recognized the significance of South Africa’s application at the ICJ, noting  that the country “fought for its own liberation against an apartheid regime supported for decades by the U.S.,” which is backing Israel’s assault on Gaza despite international outcry and protests within the United States.

“The U.N. Genocide Convention must be upheld. Israel must be held accountable,” said former U.N. human rights official Craig Mokhiber, who resigned  from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in October in protest of the U.N.’s failure to stop Israel’s massacre of civilians. “International law must be preserved.”

At the ICJ, South Africa called  for an expedited hearing on Israel’s actions and asked the court to indicate provisional measures under the Genocide Convention to “protect against further, severe, and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Article 2 of the Genocide Convention, adopted in 1948, states that genocide includes acts committed with the “intent to destroy, either in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.”

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, pointed out  Friday that “the three leading Israeli officials have declared the intent” to wipe out Gaza’s population.

Bishara noted that Israeli President Isaac Herzog said  in October that all civilians in Gaza are “responsible” for Hamas’ attack on southern Israel, days after Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said  the military would collectively punish the enclave’s population, who he called “human animals.”

Netanyahu also  said  this week that so-called “voluntary migration” of Gaza residents is the ultimate objective of Israel’s assault.

On Friday, the spokesperson for Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Lior Haiat, dismissed  South Africa’s motion as “baseless” and a “despicable and contemptuous exploitation of the court.”

Despite top officials’ recent statements, Haiat said the government has “made it clear that the residents of the Gaza Strip are not the enemy.”

Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch, called  South Africa’s move “a vital step to propel greater support for impartial justice.”

(Editor’s notes. As of January 4, South Africa was joined in their motion by Malaysia and Turkey and as of January 11 by Brazil and Colombia. As of January 11, readers are urged to watch the proceedings at United Nations Web TV.)

COP28 Fails to Deliver a Fossil Fuel Phaseout


A survey of reactions by major NGOs concerned to the final statement of COP28, United Nations Climate Change Conference

The Climate Action Network headlines “New path to transition away from fossil fuels marred by lack of finance and loopholes.” The text says “COP28 in Dubai sends an important signal on the end of fossil fuels but leaves more questions than answers on how to ensure a fair and funded transition that is based on science and equity. . . Although COP28 recognised the immense financial shortfall in tackling climate impacts, the final outcomes fall disappointingly short of compelling wealthy nations to fulfil their financial responsibilities – obligations amounting to hundreds of billions, which remain unfulfilled.”

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Friends of the Earth says “COP28 outcome undermined by dangerous distractions and lack of finance . . . (and) enormous loopholes which only serve to prolong the fossil fuel era. . . . “The COP28 deal has fallen short of delivering meaningful commitments on fossil fuel phaseout and urgently needed climate finance. The deal opens the door to dangerous distractions that will prevent a just and equitable energy transition– carbon capture utilisation and storage, hydrogen, nuclear, carbon removal technologies like geoengineering and schemes that commodify nature.”

Oxfam headlines its reaction, “COP28 outcome misses the mark on justice for the majority of the world.” “Everyone fighting against the global climate crisis has little to celebrate from this disappointing COP28. Its final outcome is grossly inadequate. Oil, coal and gas won again, but they had to struggle harder to do so and their era is nearing its end. COP28 was doubly disappointing because it put no money on the table to help poorer countries transition to renewable energies.”

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Question for this article:

Sustainable Development Summits of States, What are the results?

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The Pacific Island States (Alliance of Small Island States, AOSIS), said that the resulting deal falls severely short. ““We see a litany of loopholes,” the AOSIS statement said. “It does not deliver on a subsidy phaseout, and it does not advance us beyond the status quo. . . We do not see any commitment or even an invitation for Parties to peak emissions by 2025.”

Activists of Fridays for the Future demonstrated their displeasure with the results in a demonstration in front of the Swedish parliament. Their spokesperson, Greta Thunberg, said, “This text is toothless and it is nowhere even close to being sufficient to keep us within the 1.5 degree limit. It is a stab in the back for those most vulnerable. It was undemocratic. It was signed when many island states were not in the room. We cannot talk about climate justice without having those affected in the room.”

The Center for International Environmental Law says “COP28 was unquestionably a fossil fuel COP – not because it was hosted in a petrostate, presided over by a fossil fuel executive, and flooded by fossil fuel lobbyists, but because people power and mounting political will led by progressive governments finally put the central cause of the climate crisis at the center of the climate talks.  The test for governments was not just to talk about fossil fuels, it was to act on them, by delivering an unequivocal commitment to end the era of fossil fuels, to leave no loopholes for delay or inaction, and to ensure rich polluters move first and fastest, with real money on the table. They failed profoundly –

Greenpeace says “Although the final text made a call for a transition away from fossil fuels, the outcome of the climate talks failed to produce the words ‘fossil fuel phase out’, resulting in yet another year of lack of accountability for polluters, as the planet moves closer and closer to warming limits. . . . Both weeks of the climate negotiations were spent swatting away the polluting interests of the record high fossil fuel industry representatives in attendance, to the end. Despite rumors and hopes of an early or on time finish from weary summit goers, negotiations went into overtime through Tuesday night, the scheduled last day. The dash to a finish line resulted in a mostly disappointing final text . . .”

The press release of 350.org says “It is frustrating that thirty years of campaigning managed to get ‘transition away from fossil fuels’ in the COP text, but it is surrounded by so many loopholes that it has been rendered weak and ineffectual. The prize is finally on the table – a phaseout of fossil fuels and a world powered by renewable energy – but rather than clearing the way to it, we’ve been presented with yet another set of distracting doors that could still hold oil and gas expansion, and we don’t know just where the finance will come from.”

NGO’s were joined in their criticism by leading scientists.

UN General Assembly Adopts Resolution Demanding Immediate Humanitarian Ceasefire in Gaza, Parties’ Compliance with International Law, Release of All Hostages


A meeting report from the United Nations

Demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, the General Assembly today adopted a resolution reiterating its insistence that parties to the conflict there comply with international law, all hostages be released immediately and without conditions, and humanitarian access be ensured.

The Assembly adopted the resolution titled “Protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations” (document A/ES-10/L.27) by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 10 against (Austria, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Liberia, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, United States), with 23 abstentions, during a resumption of its tenth Emergency Special Session on Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

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Prior to adopting the resolution, the Assembly failed, by a recorded vote of 89 in favour to 61 against, with 20 abstentions, to adopt an amendment introduced by Austria, which inserted “held by Hamas and other groups” after “hostages” and “immediate” after “ensuring” (document A/ES-10/L.28).  The Assembly also failed, by a recorded vote of 84 in favour to 62 against, with 25 abstentions, to adopt an amendment introduced by the United States, which added an unequivocal condemnation of heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas that took place in Israel starting 7 October and the taking of hostages (document A/ES-10/L.29).

In opening remarks, Dennis Francis (Trinidad and Tobago), President of the General Assembly, said it is incumbent upon the United Nations to bring an immediate end to the suffering of innocent civilians.  “Right now, what we are seeing is an onslaught on civilians, the breakdown of humanitarian systems and profound disrespect for both international law and international humanitarian law,” he said.  “The carnage must stop.”

The representative of Egypt, speaking for the Arab Group, introduced draft resolution “L.27”, describing it as simple, clear and explicit.  Israeli aggression has destroyed Gaza’s public health system, he said, characterizing the argument about the right of Israel, the occupying Power, to defend itself as a pretext.  Israel is not above international humanitarian law, he said.  By the text, the Assembly demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and reiterates its demand that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, notably regarding the protection of civilians.  Through the text, the resolution also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and ensuring of humanitarian access.

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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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Introducing “L.28”, the representative of Austria welcomed recent humanitarian pauses that enabled the release of some hostages and provision of urgently needed humanitarian aid.  Recognizing the right of Israel to defend its citizens in line with international law and international humanitarian law, he said his country’s amendment is based on agreed language from Security Council resolution 2712 (2023).

The representative of the United States, introducing “L.29”, said the last two months have been nothing short of devastating.  “Devastating for Palestinians who have lost their homes and their loved ones because of a conflict that Hamas set into motion; and devastating for Israelis who still face a barrage of rocket fire, even as they continue to reel from Hamas’ barbaric attacks on 7 October,” she said, adding that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire and requires urgent and sustained attention.

Civilians desperately need food, water, shelter and medical care, she said, noting that a distressing number of innocent people have been killed and expressing support for the release of all hostages, immediately and unconditionally.  She said Member States should speak out with one voice to condemn Hamas for the terrorist attacks on 7 October.  “Why is that so hard?”, she asked.  “It should not be that difficult.”

Israel’s delegate, speaking after the vote, said the adopted resolution will prolong death and destruction.  On 6 October there was a ceasefire, and it was violated by the Hamas attack.  “What would your country do if it were in Israel’s shoes?  What would Moscow do?  What would Beijing do?”, he asked.  Hamas is refusing to release hostages or give the Red Cross access to the hostages, he said, adding that Israel has allowed the entry of aid into Gaza, but that United Nations bodies are refusing to solve logistical difficulties to allow its entry.

A ceasefire will only benefit Hamas, he said.  “What will happen the day after the ceasefire?”, he asked.  By voting in favour of the resolution, Member States are supporting terrorists and the exploitation of Palestinians, he said.  The time has come to put the blame where it belongs.  The resolution does not even mention Hamas by name or condemn Hamas.  If States want a real ceasefire, they should call Hamas leaders and ask for a release of the Israeli hostages.  This disgraceful resolution only allows Hamas to continue its reign of terror, he said, adding that Israel believes in life and peace.

“Israel has dropped 25,000 tons of explosives on Gaza, nearly the equivalent of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” said Pakistan’s delegate.  “Israel’s goal is to erase […] the entire idea of Palestine,” he added, noting his country’s support of the adopted draft resolution.

Syria’s representative noted the Security Council on Friday failed to adopt a resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza because of the United States’ veto.  “The United States insists on giving Israel the green light to continue its brutal aggression in Gaza,” he said.

Tunisia’s delegate echoed concerns about such inaction.  “The Council is clearly unable to shoulder its responsibilities, both moral and legal,” he said.  His delegation voted for the draft resolution, as it calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and end to the barbaric aggression against Palestinian civilians.  “These attacks have led to unprecedented humanitarian tragedies,” he said.

UN Asked to Submit its Call for “An Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza” for Signature by the Peoples of the World


A letter from Mouvement de la Paix

Dear Mr. Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,

As an NGO member of the United Nations ECOSOC Commission, we took part in the meeting organized by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr Ryder, in Geneva at the beginning of November. We expressed our support for the UN’s efforts to bring about a political solution to current conflicts, and for the preparation of the UN’s Avenir 2024 plan.

At this meeting, we suggested that the UN, in the name of the United Nations and in the name of “We the Peoples”, take an initiative enabling the peoples of the world, outraged both by the massacres committed by Hamas on October 7, 2023 and by the carnage currently being committed by the Israeli government in Gaza, to demand that the Israeli government immediately cease bombing civilian populations.

If we have condemned the massacres committed by Hamas on October 7, 2023, it is not to accept that the government of Israel is currently committing, with the means of a State, a carnage that strikes civilian populations.

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

Question related to this article:

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

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We have lent our support to the families of all the victims, whether Israeli or Palestinian, and it is in the name of our common humanity that we take the liberty of formulating a proposal to the UN and its Secretary-General.

Faced with a situation that is as unprecedented as it is monstrous and dangerous, we need to take decisions that will enable public opinion, “We the Peoples”, to support the UN’s demand for an immediate halt to the bombing of Gaza, and for emergency humanitarian aid.

We propose that the UN submit its call for “an immediate ceasefire in Gaza”, with the appropriate means and forms, for signature by the peoples of the world: an end to the bombardments which are affecting thousands of women and children, and the immediate implementation of permanent humanitarian aid to respond to the intolerable suffering of the population, and to deal with a catastrophic food and humanitarian crisis.

This appeal for support could be launched by the appropriate means and with the appropriate words, in all possible languages. Just a few days before International Human Rights Day, it would be a way of “proclaiming once again our faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person”, as proclaimed in the preamble to the United Nations Charter.

At the same time, we express our support for the work of the United Nations in building a world of peace.

Yours respectfully for Le Mouvement de la Paix

Roland Nivet, National Spokesman for Le Mouvement de la Paix

Paris, Friday, December 8, 2023

Nuclear Abolitionists Occupy New York


An article by Robert Dodge from Common Dreams (reprinted according to provisions of Creative Commons)

This past week New York City was invaded by nuclear abolitionists from around the world coming together as part of civil society, scientific, and affected communities, to support, strengthen, and move forward with the universalization of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, TPNW, as the United Nations convened the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty . They gathered to celebrate what has been achieved and with hope and conviction for the complete elimination of these weapons to achieve a future free from the threat of their use.

closer to nuclear war  than any time since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 78 years ago. This risk is heightened by the current war in Ukraine, where Russia has threatened the use of nuclear weapons, the ongoing nuclear weapons research by North Korea, the buildup of China’s arsenal and the current war and humanitarian crisis in Israel/Palestine, where there have been suggestions of using nuclear weapons against Palestinians. The risk of nuclear war by intent, miscalculation, or accident coupled with the growing concern over cyber-terrorism and AI is growing.

The new arms race is driven in large part by the United States’ modernization of its entire arsenal in the coming decades at an estimated cost of between $1.5 and $1.7 trillion. The false illusion of deterrence theory has been the largest driver of the new arms race, resulting in every other nation following suit at modernizing and/or enlarging their new arsenals to not be outdone. This reality was acknowledged by this week’s meeting of state’s parties that correctly identifies deterrence as a significant security problem.

Trillion dollar question

The Treaty on the Probation of Nuclear Weapons arose out of the realization of the humanitarian consequences of even limited nuclear war, and the fact that all of life and everything we care about is at risk from a large scale nuclear war. A limited nuclear war using less than 3% of the global arsenals in a distant region could result in nuclear famine  killing over 2 billion people in the years that follow. The International Committee of the Red Cross notes that there is NO adequate humanitarian or medical response to nuclear war. Understanding this, the global majority represented and supported by civil society, has come together, refusing to be held hostage or bullied by the nine nuclear nations.

The entire cycle of nuclear weapons from mining, manufacture, testing, storage, and potential use impacts communities every day. Their very existence threatens communities around the world. As stated by the author Arundhati Roy, “It is such a supreme folly to believe that nuclear weapons are deadly only if they’re used. The fact that they exist at all, their presence in our lives, will wreak more havoc than we can begin to fathom. Nuclear weapons pervade our thinking. Control our behavior. Administer our societies. Inform our dreams. They bury themselves like meat hooks deep in the base of our brains. They are purveyors of madness. They are the ultimate colonizer. Whiter than any white man that ever lived. The very heart of whiteness.”

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

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While the United States and other members of the P5 appear to be ignorant of, or oblivious to, these humanitarian consequences by giving lip service to them or simply ignoring them, there is a growing chorus in each of these nations supporting the Treaty.

While the United States and other members of the P5 appear to be ignorant of, or oblivious to, these humanitarian consequences by giving lip service to them or simply ignoring them, there is a growing chorus in each of these nations supporting the Treaty. In the U.S. this comes from the grassroots level and from a growing number of local elected officials who recognize that nuclear weapons are a local issue. A letter was presented to Biden from over 230 local elected officials  asking his administration to send an observer to the meeting. This largest U.S. intersectional movement to abolish nuclear weapons is “Back from the Brink” and has been endorsed by 471 organizations, 334 municipal and state officials, seven state legislative bodies and 76 cities and counties across the United States.

Back from the Brink works in coalition for a world free of nuclear weapons and advocates for common sense nuclear weapons policies to secure a safer, more just future. It calls on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by:

*Actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals

*Renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first

*Ending the sole, unchecked authority of any U.S. President to launch a nuclear attack

*Taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert

*Cancelling the plan to replace the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons

Supporting this effort in the United States Congress is H. Res. 77  introduced by Representatives Jim McGovern of Massachusetts and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon that embraces the goals and provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and Back from the Brink’s comprehensive policy prescriptions for reducing nuclear risks and preventing nuclear war. Currently there are 42 members of congress cosponsoring. Every member of Congress must be asked to take a stand and make their views of this greatest existential threat known.

Forty years after Carl Sagan and other scientists first described the concept of nuclear winter following a large scale nuclear war, the world is moving together for the total elimination of these weapons.

94 nations participated in this week’s Meeting of States Parties. The Treaty currently has 93 signatories and 69 States Parties whose nations have ratified the Treaty. In the closing declaration of the meeting the nations stated:

“We are resolutely committed to the universalization and effective implementation of the Treaty… We will work relentlessly to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons for the sake of current and future generations. We undertake and recommit to ensure that nuclear weapons are never again used, tested or threatened to be used, under any circumstances, and will not rest until they are completely eliminated.”

United Nations: West votes against democracy, human rights, cultural diversity; promotes mercenaries, sanctions


An article from Geopolitical Economy

Western governments frequently claim that their foreign and domestic policies are motivated by “human rights” and “democracy”. They often even lecture their adversaries for purportedly failing to respect these concerns.

But on the international stage, Western capitals have shown their commitments to be merely rhetorical, as they have consistently voted against these noble causes and refused to support measures that would tangibly protect them, in flagrant violation of the will of the vast majority of the international community.

These stark double standards were on display on November 7 in the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee, which is devoted to social, humanitarian, and cultural issues.

In this three-hour session, the West opposed draft resolutions that called for promoting democracy, human rights, and cultural diversity, while simultaneously supporting the use of mercenaries and the application of unilateral coercive measures, commonly known as sanctions.

The extended West voted against the rest of the world on these issues. Its positions were virtually uniform as a bloc, led by the United States, including Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Japan.

In fact, the chair of the General Assembly’s Third Committee is Austria’s representative to the United Nations, Alexander Marschik, and even he could not help but laugh in the session at the constant protestations of the US representative, who dominated the debate, speaking out against nearly every resolution to explain why the world should join with Washington in voting against it. (Marschik could not contain his laughter despite the fact that his own country, Austria, voted along with the US on each resolution.)

Geopolitical Economy Report has created maps that illustrate the clear political divide between the West and the rest.

(Editor’s note: We are sometimes asked what is meant by the “American Empire.” In response, these maps are a good definition.)


In the November 7 session, nations debated a draft that condemned unilateral coercive measures, or sanctions, for violating the human rights of civilians in targeted countries.

The resolution passed with 128 votes in favor and 54 against, and no abstentions.

Promoting “a democratic and equitable international order”

The General Assembly’s Third Committee likewise considered a measure that called for the “promotion of a democratic and equitable international order”.

The resolution passed with 123 votes in favor and 54 against, plus 7 abstentions (from Armenia, Chile, Costa Rica, Liberia, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay).

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(Click here for a version in French.)

Question(s) related to this article:

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

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Respecting “human rights and cultural diversity”

Another resolution sought to promote “human rights and cultural diversity”.

The measure passed with 130 votes in favor and 54 against, and no abstentions.

Promoting “equitable geographical distribution” in human rights treaty bodies

The Third Committee deliberated a draft that called for the “promotion of equitable geographical distribution in the membership of the human rights treaty bodies”.

The resolution passed with 128 votes in favor and 52 against, and no abstentions.


Another measure condemned the “use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination”.

The resolution passed with 126 votes in favor and 52 against, plus 6 abstentions (from Kiribati, Liberia, Palau, Mexico, Tonga and Switzerland).

The United Nations published a full video of the Third Committee’s session on November 7, in the 48th plenary meeting of the General Assembly’s 78th session.

(Thank you to the Transcend Media Service for calling our attention to this article.)

Update on UN response to Israeli destruction of Palestine


Synopsis of data as of November 29 from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency

Situation in Gaza

As of 29 November, nearly 1.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) were sheltering in 156 UNRWA installations across all five governorates of the Gaza Strip, including in the North and Gaza City.  The average number of IDPs in UNRWA shelters is 9,500, more than four times their capacity. Around 1.8 million people (or over 80 per cent of the population) have been displaced across the Gaza Strip since 7 October.

(Editor’s note: The definition contained in Article II of the UN Convention describes genocide as a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part.)

Palestinians moving within the Gaza Strip during the humanitarian pause, 27 November 2023. © 2023 UNRWA Photo by Ashraf Amra

In the Gaza Strip, on 27 and 28 November, 160 bodies were recovered from the rubble, according to the Government Media Office (GMO) in Gaza. The office reported that, since the start of hostilities, more than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including about 6,150 children and 4,000 women.

As of 29 November, 111 UNRWA colleagues have been killed since the beginning of the war

As of 29 November, UNRWA was able to verify that 104 incidents have occurred at 82 UNRWA premises since the beginning of the war. Thirty installations were hit directly and 52 sustained collateral damage. In addition, UNRWA received reports of the military use of its facilities on at least five occasions

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Question related to this article:

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

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Since the beginning of the conflict, at least 218 internally displaced people sheltering in UNRWA schools have reportedly been killed and at least 894 have been injured.

Situation in West Bank

In the West Bank, According to OCHA, since 7 October, 238 Palestinians, including 63 children, have been killed by the Israeli Forces in the West Bank. In addition, eight people, including one child, have been killed by Israeli settlers. 

Medical and psychological emergency in Gaza

On 29 November, nine (out of 22) UNRWA health centres were still operational in the Middle and Southern areas, recording 10,312 patients visits, including Palestine Refugees and non-refugees.

UNRWA teams, including 196 social workers in the shelters, provided psychosocial first aid and other specialized protection services to IDPs. Since 7 October, 81,102 people (over 60 per cent of whom are females) have been reached. UNRWA school counsellors in collaboration with other organizations reached around 375,000 children with recreational activities.

Lack of food, drinking water and sanitation in Gaza

UNRWA distribution of flour outside of shelters continued on 29 November in the southern governorates. A total of 30,222 families have been reached so far.

UNRWA continues to operate eight water wells pumping about 9,000 cubic metres to provide potable and domestic water supply. Potable water trucking operations to the shelters in Rafah and Khan Younis areas continue.

Provision of potable water through tankers of Coast Municipalities Water Utility started to have the shelters provided with potable water in Rafah.

Solid waste collection from the camps, emergency shelters and transfer to landfills continues in the Middle, Khan Younis and Rafah areas. About 45 loadings were transferred to temporary dumping sites on 29 November.  There is an urgent need for additional sanitation trucks and vehicles.

Secretary-General Tells Security Council Open Debate ‘Standing with Women Is Good for the World’, Stresses Patriarchy ‘a Massive Obstacle’ to Culture of Peace


An article from the United Nations

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council annual open debate on women, peace and security, in New York today:

Thank you for inviting me to brief the Council on this vital issue.  And for reminding us of the key contribution Bertha Lutz made to the UN Charter and to women’s rights.

Many of you here today will have visited the exhibition on display outside the United Nations building.  You will have seen the images of the women who embody the agenda we are discussing — women who are fighting injustice, building peace, and taking their rightful place at the table.  It is a snapshot of the immense contribution women are making to peace and security around the world and a testament to the power of women’s leadership.

The world must take note.  And it must take inspiration.  Because today, we are on a knife’s edge.  Conflicts are raging.  Tensions are rising.  Coups are erupting.  Authoritarianism is on the march.  The nuclear threat has mushroomed.  Climate chaos is inflaming security challenges.  And mistrust is poisoning global politics — weakening our ability to respond.

The figures speak for themselves on the dire state of our world: military spending is at a record high; displacement due to violence, conflict and persecution is at a record high; and 50 per cent more women and girls are living in countries threatened by fighting than in 2017.

Where wars rage, women suffer, where authoritarianism and insecurity reign, women and girls’ rights are threatened.  We see this around the world.  In Sudan and Haiti — women and girls brutalized and terrorized by sexual violence.  In Afghanistan — the denial of women’s basic rights is wrecking lives and depriving people of life-saving assistance.  And women and girls fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are at risk of being preyed on by traffickers and abusers.

In the Middle East, women and girls are disproportionately affected by the ongoing violence, bloodshed and displacement.  Women and girls are among the many victims of Hamas’ brutal atrocities.  And women and children are more than half the victims of the relentless bombing of Gaza.  Tens of thousands of pregnant women are desperately struggling to access essential health care.

This grim backdrop gives renewed urgency to efforts to ensure women’s full and meaningful participation in peace and security.  Twenty-three years after this Council adopted resolution 1325 (2000), women’s participation should be a default, not an afterthought.

But that is not the case.  Women are leading efforts on peace, justice and rights around the world. But still, far too many women’s organizations struggle to fund their essential work, as military spending soars; far too many perpetrators of sexual violence walk free; and far too many peace processes exclude women.

Of 18 peace agreements reached last year, only one was signed or witnessed by a representative of a women’s group or organization.  Despite our best efforts, women represented just 16 per cent of negotiators or delegates in the peace processes led, or co-led, by the United Nations.

We live in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture.  Centuries of patriarchy are a massive obstacle to gender equality and, in turn, to a culture of peace.  Around the world, women’s rights are under attack.  So are the people that defend them.  At least seven women who briefed this Council last year report facing reprisals for having done so.

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Questions related to this article:

UN Resolution 1325, does it make a difference?

Does the UN advance equality for women?

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Violence against women — both on and offline — is endemic; a massive barrier and disincentive to participation in civil and political life.  At the current rate of progress, it will be almost another half century before women are fairly represented in national parliaments.

Addressing this is not a favour to women.  It is a matter of rights, justice and pragmatism.  Standing with women is good for the world.  We know processes involving women lead to more enduring peace.  We know gender-equal parliaments are more likely to increase spending on health, education and social protection, and reduce corruption.

There are pockets of hope.  This year’s report shows good practice and success stories on the women, peace and security agenda from around the world:  from gender parity in Colombia’s peace negotiations to perpetrators of sexual violence in Iraq, Syria and the Central African Republic being brought to justice.

The United Nations is committed to working with countries to drive progress on women, peace and security.  Our operations are supporting women, highlighting their vital work, and amplifying their voices.  The Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund of the United Nations has supported more than 1,000 local women’s organizations since it was established in 2016. And we’ve made progress towards gender balance within peacekeeping missions.  But overall, when it comes to women peace and security, the world must urgently bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality.

This annual debate regularly has the longest speakers’ list of the year.  But concrete progress is slow, stagnant or even going backwards.  We need to implement the women, peace and security agenda in full, now.  Because women have had enough of being shut out of the decisions that shape their lives; enough of their work going unrecognized; enough of threats and violence; [and] enough of promises left unfulfilled.  Women demand concrete actions to make real strides forward.

First, that means steps to ensure women are in the room for peace talks.  I encourage Governments supporting conflict mediation to set ambitious targets for women on negotiating teams.

Second, it means money on the table.  If you want to stand with women driving change, if you want to support women enduring conflict, if you want to remove barriers to participation, and if you want women’s organizations to deliver, we need to pay for it.  Yet, the latest figures show aid funding for gender equality in conflict falling.  I urge countries providing overseas development assistance, or ODA, to allocate 15 per cent to gender equality.  Fifteen per cent of funds for mediation work must support women’s participation.

I also call on countries providing ODA to allocate 1 per cent — at a bare minimum — to direct assistance to women’s organizations mobilizing for peace.  By the end of 2025, the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund Invest-in-Women campaign aims to raise $300 million.  I urge you to throw yourselves behind this effort.

Third, we need concrete measure to secure women’s full, equal and meaningful participation at all levels of decision-making on peace and security, and all levels of political and civil life.  That means pushing fair representation in national and local governments, cabinets and parliaments.

I was a prime minister and leader of a political party.  I know quotas, targets and incentives work.  We need robust, comprehensive legislation to tackle violence against women — both on and offline — and to put an end to impunity for perpetrators.

And we need to make the most of the Summit of the Future next year to push for progress on women, peace and security.  The Summit is a chance to reform and revitalize multilateralism so that it meets the challenges of today.  In preparation, the policy brief on “A New Agenda for Peace” puts women’s leadership and participation at the centre of decision-making. I urge you to consider its proposals carefully.

Amidst a world in chaos, the clock is ticking down to the twenty-fifth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000).  A quarter century is ample time to make progress.  We need to translate the energy, commitment and focus in this room into change on the ground and money on the table.  No more stalling, no more coasting, no more delays.

We need to back the change-makers whose images we proudly display outside this building, starting today.  The state of the world demands it.  And women and girls, rightly, expect nothing less.  Thank you.