Tag Archives: United Nations

2023 United Nations High-Level Forum on The Culture of Peace



Every year CPNN carries articles about the United Nations High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace that has been convened annually by the President of the UN General Assembly since 2012. This year it took place at UN headquarters on August 31.

Scene at beginning of Forum, taken from UN video. (Note that in previous years, the room was filled with representatives of civil society and Member States)

A concept note with background about the culture of peace was published this year prior to the forum by the President of the General assembly saying that it would be dedicated to the theme “Promoting Culture of Peace in the Digital Era.”

As was the case in 2022, the United Nations did not publish a general article about the forum. The order of the programme was published in the UN Journal along with links to statements from 22 Member States, but a summary of the event was not published in the UN websites for meetings or press releases.

A three-hour video of the forum is available from the UN media center and a separate video of the presentation by Sri Lanka is available on YouTube.

In this article we have sought excerpts from other articles, including speeches delivered at the forum.

The following description of the event was published in Bangladesh

“Convened by President of the General Assembly Csaba Korosi, the forum’s inaugural session featured addresses from distinguished speakers, including the Under-Secretary General for Policy, Director of UNESCO’s New York Office, and the Head of UN Affairs of ITU.

“Later a panel discussion was held under the theme, “Promoting Culture of Peace in the Digital Era,” which was chaired by Ambassador Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar, and participated by member states, observers and the civil society.

“Apart from Member States, expert speakers including the Secretary General’s Tech Envoy, Rector of the University for Peace and representative of Google presented remarks in the panel discussion.

“Applauding Bangladesh’s leadership in promoting culture of peace, the President of the General Assembly highlighted that sustaining a culture of peace in the digital age entails nurturing an inclusive online space that encourages respect and tolerance.

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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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“This involves countering online hate speech and discrimination and addressing the risks of misusing new technologies without depriving those who require them,” he said stressing the importance of collective involvement, he underscored that success hinges on robust multilateral cooperation.”

Since there was not other news coverage of the event, one needs to listen to the UN video to learn more.

The Director of UNESCO’s New York Office spoke from minutes 25-30. He did not mention UNESCO’s history with the culture of peace, such as its responsibility for the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace (2000) and the succeeding Culture of Peace Decade, nor the fact that it prepared and submitted the Draft Declaration and Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace eventually adopted by the General Assembly in 1999.

A prominent place was given to Google. The representative of Google, Zoe Darme, was one of the five presenters in the panel discussion, her presentation taking place from minutes 80 to 87 in the video. She also took an active role in the general discussion that followed, being the final speaker of the day. Curiously, a search by the Google Search Engine reveals photos of her at the forum, but no mention of the content of her remarks.

There was much less participation of the civil society this year. Unlike in previous years, the civil society organizations affiliated with the UN Department of Public Information were not allowed to participate. And Ambassador Chowdhury, who had mobilized civil society participation in previous years was not included in the planning. Back in 1999, when he was Ambassdor from Bangladesh, Chowdhury resisted opposition by the EU and United States and chaired the nine-month negotiations that led to the adoption of the above-mentioned Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.

According to a recent article written by Chowdhury, the “cold-shoulder” given to the culture of peace for this forum this year is part of a more general rejection of the culture of peace by the current United Nations administration. Neither of the two general agendas for action – “Our Common Agenda” (OCA), and “New Agenda for Peace” (NAP) – mention “culture of peace” at all.

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Here are texts of some of the speeches submitted to this year’s Forum that are available on the Internet:

President of the General Assembly

Representative of the Vatican

Representative of the European Union

Representative of the United States

Representative of Bangladesh

Representative of the University for Peace

Submitted speeches from 17 other countries, as well as the International Telecommunication Union, are available online from the UN Journal.

UN-AUSC Youth Forum: The Role of Young People in the 13Th African Games


Excerpts from an announcement from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations



. . . The United Nations acknowledges the value of the youth in peacebuilding through the development of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 2250 (2015), 2419 (2018), and 2535 (2020) on Youth, Peace, and Security that called upon the United Nations (UN) entities and Member States to improve capacity-building by integrating the Youth, Peace, and Security agenda into their technical assistance plans. Also, the African Youth Charter recognizes that “youth are partners, assets and prerequisite for sustainable peace and prosperity of Africa with a unique contribution to make to the present and future development.”

Through unique engagement, such as sports, the youth have led and sustained peacebuilding and development conversations across societies. Sports have historically played a significant role in disseminating positive values worldwide and across civilizations and cultures, thus making it a powerful vector for developing efforts to promote peace and prevent and counter violent extremism. . . .


The Global Sports Programme will organize a Youth Forum on the role of young people in the upcoming 13th Edition of the African Games (Accra, Ghana, set to commence in March 2024) in partnership with the AUSC, which oversees the coordination and organization of the African Games—building on the power of sport to promote increased youth participation in the organization of major sporting events. Other partners are the 13th African Games Local Organising Committee (LOC) which comprises key Ghanaian stakeholders, the Ghana National Peace Council which is responsible for implementing the National PVE Strategy, and the UN Country Team.


Raise awareness of integrating youth in major sporting events, particularly from an African perspective.

Establish a dialogue between youth and decision-makers about the power of sports and major sporting events to prevent violent extremism, showcasing unique youth approaches, including those targeting the vulnerable youth population.

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Questions for this article:

How can sports promote peace?

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● Encourage more investment and support towards youth-led sport-based PVE initiatives and increased youth participation in major sporting events.

● Concrete guidelines on the greater inclusion of young people in PVE-based activities within the context of a major sporting event.


• 21-22 November 2023 (2 days) in Accra, Ghana


● We count on the participation of approx. 15 African civil society leaders between 18 and 35 years old and involved in major sporting events, decision-making, and/or sport for PVE. ● This Forum will feature ‘safe and brave spaces,’ working groups, presentations, etc.

● The young people will have the opportunity to go into dialogue with the organizers of the upcoming 13th African Games, including the AUSC and the LOC, as well as other PVE-through-sport/sport for peace stakeholders, including civil society organizations and the UN.


● Raised awareness of the role and significance of sport in PVE. ● Inclusion of strategies for PVE interventions while organizing major sporting events and its integration into NAPs.

● Compiled recommendations on integrating young people in organizing major sporting events and related sport-for-PVE initiatives.


● Due to limited slots, participants will be subjected to a selection process that will consider the relevance of their application, their experience, the motivation and interest demonstrated, as well as their potential contribution to the discussions. To the extent possible, the selection committee will balance age, gender, and diversity of backgrounds (cultural, educational, professional) among selected participants.


● Age: 18-35 years of age

● Region: African Union Member States

● Interest in themes: the applicant demonstrates some experience and knowledge (or a great interest in getting involved) in issues related to PVE (through sport), the organization of major sporting events, sport for development and peace, and/or meaningful youth engagement.

● Future impact and follow-up: the applicant expresses a strong commitment to further engage on the topics and has the ability to consult with and reach a wider group of young people, audiences, or networks, including leading initiatives at the grassroots and community levels.

● Experience and potential: experience in the development of policies and guidelines and advocacy in PVE.

UN pushes disarmament talks amid fears that drums of nuclear war are beating again


An article from The United Nations

As United Nations-led talks on nuclear disarmament continued in Geneva, New York and Vienna, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned on Sunday that “the drums of nuclear war are beating once again”. 

In a message to mark the 78th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Mr. Guterres urged the international community to learn from the “nuclear cataclysm” that befell the Japanese city on 6 August 1945.

Secretary-General Guterres

The drums of nuclear war are beating once again; mistrust and division are on the rise,” the UN chief said in a statement to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, delivered by UN’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu. “The nuclear shadow that loomed over the Cold War has re-emerged. And some countries are recklessly rattling the nuclear sabre once again, threatening to use these tools of annihilation.”

UN chief’s peace agenda

Pending the total elimination of all nuclear weapons, Mr. Guterres appealed to the international community to speak as one, as outlined in his New Agenda for Peace. Launched in July this year, the Agenda calls on Member States to urgently recommit to pursuing a world free of nuclear weapons and to reinforce the global norms against their use and proliferation.

“States possessing nuclear weapons must commit to never use them,” he insisted, as he stressed the UN’s commitment to continue working to strengthen global rules on disarmament and non-proliferation, notably the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

NPT talks are taking place at the UN in the Austrian capital until 11 August, where Ms. Nakamitsu reiterated her warning to the forum that not “since the depths of the Cold War” has the risk of a nuclear weapon being used so high – just as the rules-based order intended to prevent their use has never been “so fragile”.

“This is, to a large extent, because of the volatile times in which we live,” Ms. Nakamitsu continued, pointing to the “existential” threat facing the world today, which is the result of “the highest level of geopolitical competition, rising tensions and deepening divisions among major powers in decades”.

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

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Trillion dollar question

Coupled with rising global tensions is a record level of world military expenditure which reportedly reached a $2,240 billion in 2022.

This situation has led to an increased emphasis on nuclear weapons, “through modernization programmes, expanded doctrines, allegations of growing stockpiles and most alarmingly…threats to use them”, explained the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

“The fact that in the last 12 months nuclear weapons have openly been used as tools of coercion should worry us all,” she added.

The 1968 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) is one of the only international agreements signed by both nuclear and non-nuclear states, aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and furthering the goal of nuclear disarmament.

After entering into force in 1970, 191 states have since become party to the treaty – the most signatories of any arms limitation agreement.

Bold goals

The treaty centres on the idea that non-nuclear States agree to never acquire weapons and nuclear-weapons states in exchange agree to share the benefits of the technology, whilst pursuing efforts towards disarmament and elimination of nuclear arsenals.

In addition to the Vienna talks now under way and which come ahead of the NPT’s five-yearly review in 2026, countries have also exchanged on disarmament and non-proliferation issues at the UN’s Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in the past week.

In recent days – and despite ongoing concerns that the Conference remains deadlocked by geopolitical developments – the forum’s 65 Member States heard briefings from the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the battlefield.

The aim of such discussions is to establish a mechanism that allows for regular multilateral dialogue and the inclusion of the views of countries that are not actively involved in the development of artificial intelligence, to ensure the responsible development and deployment of AI in the military domain.

The Conference on Disarmament – which was established in 1979 – is not formally a UN body but reports annually, or more frequently as appropriate, to the UN General Assembly.Its remit reflects the Organization’s conviction that disarmament and non-proliferation remain indispensable tools to create a security environment that is favourable to human development, as enshrined in the UN Charter.

In addition to convening the Conference on Disarmament, Member States gather in Geneva to discuss a range of multilateral disarmament agreements and conferences including the Anti-Personnel Landmine Convention (APLC), the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), The Convention on Cluster Munitions, The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), as well as NPT review panels.

Dismantle Israel’s carceral regime and “open-air” imprisonment of Palestinians: UN expert


An article from the United Nations Human Rights Commission

Israel’s military occupation has morphed the entire occupied Palestinian territory into an open-air prison, where Palestinians are constantly confined, surveilled and disciplined,” a UN expert said today (July 10).

“Over 56 years, Israel has governed the occupied Palestinian territory through stifling criminalisation of basic rights and mass incarcerations,” said Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, in a new report to the Human Rights Council.

Frame from UN video of the Albanese press conference

“Under Israeli occupation, generations of Palestinians have endured widespread and systematic arbitrary deprivation of liberty, often for the simplest acts of life and the exercise of fundamental human rights,” Albanese said. Without condoning violent acts that Palestinians may have committed during decades of Israel’s illegal occupation, most of their criminal convictions have resulted from a litany of violations of international law, including due process violations, that taint the legitimacy of the administration of justice by the occupying power.

The report finds that since 1967, over 800,000 Palestinians, including children as young as 12, have been arrested and detained under authoritarian rules enacted, enforced and adjudicated by the Israeli military. Palestinians are subject to long detention for expressing opinions, gathering, pronouncing unauthorised political speeches, or even merely attempting to do so, and ultimately deprived of their status of protected civilians. They are often presumed guilty without evidence, arrested without warrants, detained without charge or trial and brutalised in Israeli custody.

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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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“Mass incarceration serves the purpose of quelling peaceful opposition against the occupation, protecting the Israeli military and settlers, and ultimately facilitating settler-colonial encroachment,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“Bundling Palestinians as a collective “security threat”, Israel has used draconian military orders to punish the exercise of basic rights. These measures have been used as tools to subjugate an entire population, depriving them of self-determination, enforcing racial domination and advancing territorial acquisition by force,” she said. 

Albanese noted that Israel’s “carceral regime” haunts Palestinian life even outside prisons. Blockades, walls, segregated infrastructure, checkpoints, settlements encircling Palestinian towns and villages, hundreds of bureaucratic permits and a web of digital surveillance, further entrap Palestinians in a carceral continuum across strictly controlled enclaves.

“The widespread and systematic arbitrariness of the occupation’s carceral regime is yet another expression of the apartheid imposed on the Palestinians and strengthens the need to end it immediately,” the UN expert said.

“The mass and arbitrary deprivation of liberty that Palestinians have been collectively subjected to for decades aims to protect Israel’s annexation of Palestinian territory, a project with unlawful aims pursued by unlawful means,” Albanese said. “This macroscopic violation of fundamental principles of international law cannot be remedied by addressing some of its most brutal consequences. For Israel’s carceral regime to end, and its inherent apartheid with it, its illegal occupation of Palestine must end,” she said.

Albanese called on Member States to uphold their obligations not to aid or recognise Israel’s settler-colonial occupation and incremental annexation, and use all diplomatic, political and economic measures under the UN Charter to bring it to an end and make sure its architects are brought to justice.

Francesca Albanese is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

(Editor’s note: Not surprisingly, Albanese is under vicious attacks by Israel and it supporters. This is described in detail in the an article from the Jordan News.

United Nations: Behind at halftime, but all still to play for in race to 2030 as top political forum closes


An article from the United Nations

This year’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) concluded in New York on Wednesday, laying the groundwork for the crucial SDG Summit in September

Over the past ten days, world leaders, policymakers, and key stakeholders gathered to review progress, share experiences, and discuss strategies for advancing sustainable development.

The HLPF serves as a central platform for monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the SDGs, which were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015. These goals encompass a wide range of objectives, including eradicating poverty, promoting gender equality, ensuring access to quality education and healthcare, and protecting the environment.
Focused on the theme of Sustainable and Resilient Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic, this year’s HLPF recognized the unprecedented challenges posed by the global health crisis.

Far-reaching impact of COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching impacts on all aspects of society, exacerbating existing inequalities and hindering progress towards the SDGs. The forum aimed to identify solutions and strategies for building back better in a post-pandemic world.

Admitting that the world is “woefully off track” to achieve the SDGs by the 2030 deadline, top UN officials, ministers and policy makers as well as representatives of the private sector and major public groups discussed the ways to push forward the implementation of five out of the 17 SDGs.

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Question for this article:

Sustainable Development Summits of States, What are the results?

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They put under scrutiny progress made so far in universal access to clean water, sanitation and power, and reviewed ways to take advantage of new technology, also discussing the crucial role of urban development.

Lachezara Stoeva, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), who spearheaded the work of the Forum, emphasized the importance of innovation, technology, and high-impact partnerships. 

“We are halfway to 2030 and yet nowhere near to achieving the SDGs. The bad news is we’ve lost seven years. The good news is, we still have seven years and victory is within our reach,” she said.

One of the objectives that the ECOSOC President had for the Forum was to increase participation of young people. 

“Needless to say, engaging young people in the discussion is not a courtesy, it is an absolute imperative if we are serious about meeting the Goals,” Ms. Stoeva underscored. 

National reviews

Throughout the HLPF, participants engaged in over 200 high-level panel discussions, interactive dialogues, and Voluntary National Reviews. Thirty-eight countries provided data on their progress towards achieving the SDGs – one of the key components of the development agenda. Notably, for the first time ever, the European Union presented its review. 

One of the important takeaways from the HLPF was the recognition that achieving the SDGs requires a collective effort involving governments, civil society, businesses, and individuals.

It is crucial to foster multi-stakeholder partnerships and mobilize resources to accelerate progress towards the goals. The private sector, in particular, has a vital role to play in driving sustainable and inclusive economic growth through responsible business practices and investments. 

As the HLPF ends, it is essential to carry forward the momentum generated during this week, participants concluded. The deliverables laid bare at the Forum, are crucial for the success of the SDG Summit in September. 

“Together we must do our best to have our messages heard at the Summit. It is a critical opportunity we must not miss,” Lachezara Stoeva encouraged the HLPF participants, concluding the Forum’s session. 

G77 Statement to High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development


A statement from The Group of 77 at the United Nations

Statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China by H.E. Mr. Alejandro Gil Fernández, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Planning of the Republic of Cuba, at the general debate of the high-level segment of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development under the auspices of ECOSOC (New York, 17 July 2023)

Image from Wikipedia

Her Excellency Ms. Lachezara Stoeva, President of ECOSOC,

I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the G77 and China.

As we approach the midpoint of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we have witnessed how many are still lagging behind.

We meet today at a time of extremely critical juncture, in which developing countries face multiple challenges, particularly those concerning economic and social recovery from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, enormous financial and debt difficulties, rising food prices, escalating climate emergency and an unbalanced economic order that perpetuates inequalities and poverty.

Humanity has before it a thick and complex set of documents, based on basic principles, which in theory are the basis for our sustainable development. However, the progress achieved is still insufficient for the realities of the poorest and most vulnerable. Let us not forget that poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.

The increasing global challenges, including the negative effects of climate change that threatens the very survival of many developing countries especially of Small Island developing states and deepen the vulnerability of all, the rising global interest rates, tightened financial conditions, high cost of debt and risks of debt distress, have deeply impacted economies in the Global South, especially in low and middle income countries. In this regard, the G77 and China expects to have a meaningful debate on the centrality of development finance to overcome those challenges.

Concrete actions by developed countries to deliver on previous commitments, as well as on the reform of the international financial architecture are essential for the transformation we are advocating.

Madam President,

It has been almost a decade since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Multiple pledges have been made since then.

Contrary to the notion of progress, we find ourselves in a situation where our people is even more in need now than years before. The IMF is forecasting that a third of the global economy will be in recession in 2023. For the first time, UNDP has found that human development is falling in nine out of 10 countries.

The high cost of borrowing prevents the capacity of developing countries to invest in the SDGs and it also raises the risk of debt default. For developing countries in the Global South interest rates can be eight times higher than those in developed countries, as highlighted by the Secretary General, who has pointed out as well that today 25 developing economies are spending over 20 per cent of government revenues solely on servicing debt.

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Question for this article:

Sustainable Development Summits of States, What are the results?

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Madam President,

Since its inception, the G77 and China has been advocating for a new international economic order. Now it´s more evident than ever that these transformations cannot wait any longer. The UN Secretary General recently recognized that the Global Financial System is biased, morally bankrupt and skewed to benefit wealthy countries. This is no longer a plea only from developing countries.

The reform of the international financial architecture, especially of IMF and the World Bank, cannot continue to wait. We need to strengthen the participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making, norm-setting and global economic governance, so as in order to adapt to changes in the global economy. We look forward to fulfill the commitment of IMF to revisiting the adequacy of quotas and continuing the process of governance reform under the sixteenth general review of quotas and to conduct the shareholding review of the World Bank.

We welcome the UN Secretary-General’s proposal for an “SDG Stimulus” for developing countries, in particular the most in need and distressed countries, which aims at massively scaling up affordable long-term financing for development and aligning financing flows with the SDGs. We call upon the international community to follow up on the SG’s proposal.
We urge developed countries to fulfill their unmet ODA commitments to developing countries to achieve the target of 0.7 % of gross national income and 0.15 to 0.20 % of ODA to the least developed countries.

We urge the initiation of an United Nations intergovernmental process to establish measures that go beyond GDP in order to have a more inclusive approach to international cooperation and financing for development.

The Group emphasizes the need for special and differential treatment for developing countries in harnessing the developmental benefit of international trade and the importance of a multilateral trading system that relies on universal, rule-based, open, transparent, inclusive and non-discriminatory rules as embodied in the WTO agreements.

In this connection, the Group remains deeply concerned and rejects the increasing trend by developed countries to impose unilateral and protectionist measures that undermine the multilateral trading system and would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries or a disguised restriction on international trade, such as unilateral and discriminatory border adjustment mechanisms and taxes, negatively impacting the access of developing countries’ exports to the global markets.

The climate change agenda must be fully implemented in accordance with the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement and upholding the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. In this regard, it is critical to increase ambition on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation, and materialize the provision and mobilization of resources by developed countries to tackle climate change. We are deeply disappointed that the goal to mobilize 100 billion dollars by developed countries per year up to 2020 was never met and we strongly call developed countries to fulfill this pledge. We also urge the full operationalization of the loss and damage fund by COP28.

It is critical an urgent promotion of technology transfer and capacity building as well as technological and scientific cooperation from developed to developing countries in order to foster sustainable development in its three dimensions and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Finally, we emphasize that as stated in the 2030 Agenda, States are strongly urged to refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations that impede the full achievement of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries.

Madam President,

The actions just mentioned have been enunciated in several occasions by the leaders of the Global South. The lack of progress must not be attributed to a lack of solutions. Actions are there. What it is required urgently is political will to implement what we all know is needed to overcome one of the most complex crises humanity has seen in the modern history.

We, as leaders from the developing world, have the responsibility to come all together and claim with a united voice the changes needed to ensure a sustainable future for the current and coming generations.

I thank you.

National Coordinators of the UNESCO Associated Schools Network gather to reflect and share experiences


An article from UNESCO

National Coordinators of the UNESCO Associated Schools Network  reinforced the importance of the network as a laboratory of ideas for educational quality, innovation and transformation by endorsing the “70th Anniversary Declaration” as a result of the conference.

From 6-8 June 2023, the German National Commission for UNESCO and UNESCO ASPnet co-organized the global conference “Strengthening international collaboration towards peaceful and sustainable futures!” to gather 80 participants from 60 countries at the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin and online.

In the context of the 70th anniversary in November 2023, the conference provided a unique platform for National Coordinators, representatives of National Commissions and the International Coordination Unit to jointly develop new ideas for the network, to reflect on experiences and achievements from the past and present, and to explore ways and possibilities for a successful path to strengthen ASPnet for the future.

ASPnet – a treasure in our hands

For the opening, Assistant Director-General for Education, Ms Stefania Giannini, valued the network as a “treasure in our hands” and as “one of UNESCO`s most powerful networks” in implementing the organization`s values through education in a video message. She further encouraged the National Coordinators to commemorate the 70th anniversary as important milestone in the history of ASPnet through national celebrations as well as together with other countries to honour the global nature of the network.

Germany was one of the 16 Member States, which participated in the first “Scheme of co-ordinated experimental activities in Education for Living in a World Community” in 1953. This successful collaborative experiment evolved into today´s global network of over 12,000 educational institutions in 182 countries. Mr Luckscheiter, Secretary-General of the German National Commission, highlighted the important role of ASPnet schools as drivers for innovation and societal change:

“The schools are a mirror of society – and at the same time, they are bridges into the future. ASPnet has been this bridge to strong and democratic school cultures – from its very beginning as a little laboratory until today with a strong and important outreach.”

Responding to global challenges – Co-creating the future

For the last 70 years, ASPnet has demonstrated its role as a laboratory for innovative teaching methods and its ability to incorporate new topics and approaches into the classroom in response to global challenges and events.

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Question for this article:

What is the relation between peace and education?

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

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Ms Julie Saito, International Coordinator at UNESCO, drew a line from the first experiments on Rights of Women, study of other countries and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1953, to today’s school projects that retain ASPnet’s character as a laboratory of ideas and that, for example, engage students and teachers in shared learning experiences around the colonial past, promoting global citizenship education and intercultural learning.

“Our experimentation is the constant attempt to develop schools, to innovate, to pioneer, to make learning more meaningful and contemporary, to rethink education, to take into account global events and challenges and to empower all learners to assume active roles, both locally and globally, in building more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive and sustainable futures,” said Ms Saito.

Transforming the network for the future – Strengthening international collaboration

The central element of the conference were workshops by the International Coordination Unit around three core processes in transforming the network for the future. In participatory and action-oriented workshops and discussions, National Coordinators jointly explored possibilities for operationalising the new ASPnet Strategy 2022-2030 “Building peaceful and sustainable futures through transformative education”, tested the beta version of the new ASPnet community platform  or shared ideas for developing an ASPnet Young Ambassador initiative following the adopted resolution at the last UNESCO Executive Board. Further, National Coordinators were invited to share their good practices and engage in dialogues with fellow colleagues on how to strengthen transnational collaborations and school partnerships.

Mr Klaus Schilling, National Coordinator in Germany, highlighted in his closing the strengths of the network in learning together transnationally and in taking action for a better world: „The ASPnet Conference in Berlin was a strong boost to foster international collaboration and transformative learning within our network. New synergies between National Coordinators, new thematic and methodological approaches as well as clear strategies to empower students and teachers will help to dynamize cooperation within the ASPnet and to strengthen its contribution towards peaceful and sustainable futures. The rich presentations of the ASPnet Conference – for example on the pilot projects how to confront the colonial past in transnational dialogues as well as the example of Recreation Projects in solidarity with Ukraine show the enormous potential and commitment of its member institutions. ASPnet makes a real difference for another world.“

70th Anniversary Declaration of the UNESCO Associated Schools Network

At the end of the successful conference, the participants jointly endorsed the “70th Anniversary Declaration of the UNESCO Associated Schools Network”. Initiated by the ASPnet National Coordinator in Greece, Ms Vera Dilari, the declaration was the result of a co-creative process during the conference.

The declaration invites National Commissions for UNESCO, other UNESCO networks and entities, policy-makers, civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders to collaborate with ASPnet institutions, National Coordinators and the International Coordination Unit and to support and strengthen the UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet).

UNESCO ASPnet celebrates the 70th anniversary of the network under the theme “Fostering a culture of Peace and Sustainability through Transformative Education” through the country initiatives of ASPnet members as well as with a dedicated exhibition during the 42nd General Conference in November 2023.

2023 United Nations Resolution on the Culture of Peace


Data from UN document of A/77/L.74 and Meeting coverage of 79th Meeting of GA 77th Session

The UN General Assembly adopted without a vote this year’s resolution for the culture of peace, presented as usual by the delegation of Bangladesh.

The resolution was sponsored by the following countries: Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, India, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Mauritania, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu and Venezuela.

Photo from BNN

Following 40 preambular paragraphs which among other things recognized “the importance of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 1999,” the resolution included the following 21 operative paragraphs:

1. Reiterates that the objective of the effective implementation of the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace is to strengthen further the global movement for a culture of peace, and calls upon all concerned to renew their attention to this objective;

2. Invites Member States to continue to place greater emphasis on and expand their activities promoting a culture of peace at the national, regional and international levels and to ensure that peace and non-violence are fostered at all levels;

3. Invites the entities of the United Nations system, within their existing mandates, to integrate, as appropriate, the eight action areas of the Programme of Action into their programmes of activities, focusing on promoting a culture of peace and non-violence at the national, regional and international levels;

4. Commends the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for strengthening efforts to mobilize all relevant stakeholders within and outside the United Nations system in support of a culture of peace, and invites the Organization to continue to enhance communication and outreach, including through the culture of peace website;

5. Commends the practical initiatives and actions by relevant United Nations bodies, including the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and the University for Peace, as well as their activities in further promoting a culture of peace and non-violence, in particular the promotion of peace education and activities related to specific areas identified in the Programme of Action, and encourages them to continue and further strengthen and expand their efforts;

6. Stresses the importance of addressing the underlying drivers of violence and conflict to promote a culture of peace;

7. Encourages Member States, United Nations entities and other relevant actors to adopt a holistic approach to the cross-cutting dimensions of peace, development, humanitarian action and human rights in order to prevent the recurrence of conflict and build lasting peace;

8. Underlines that early childhood development contributes to the development of more peaceful societies through advancing equality, tolerance, human development and promoting human rights, and calls for investment in early childhood education, including through effective policies and practices, towards promoting a culture of peace;

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

Question for this article:

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

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9. Encourages Member States, United Nations entities, regional and subregional organizations and relevant actors to consider instituting mechanisms to involve youth in the promotion of a culture of peace, tolerance and intercultural and interreligious dialogue and develop, as appropriate, an understanding of respect for human dignity, pluralism and diversity, including, as appropriate, through education programmes, that could discourage their participation in acts of terrorism, violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, violence, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination;

10. Encourages the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations to increase its activities that focus on peace education and global citizenship education in order to enhance an understanding among young people of values such as peace, tolerance, openness, inclusion and mutual respect, which are essential in developing a culture of peace;

11. Encourages the United Nations peacebuilding architecture to continue to promote peacebuilding and sustaining peace activities, as outlined in its resolutions 72/276 and 75/201, and to advance a culture of peace and non-violence in postconflict peacebuilding efforts at the country level, and recognizes the important role of the Peacebuilding Commission in this regard;

12. Emphasizes the critical importance of an inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and in this regard calls upon States to promote the values of a culture of peace, inter alia, in countering rising inequalities, discrimination, exclusion, hate crimes and violence;

13. Urges the appropriate authorities to provide age-appropriate education in children’s schools that builds a culture of peace and non-violence, including lessons in mutual understanding, respect, tolerance, active and global citizenship and human rights;

14. Encourages the involvement of media, especially the mass media, in promoting a culture of peace and non-violence, with particular regard to children and young people;

15. Commends civil society, non-governmental organizations and young people for their activities in further promoting a culture of peace and non-violence, including through their campaign to raise awareness on a culture of peace and the peaceful settlement of disputes;

16. Encourages civil society and non-governmental organizations to further strengthen their efforts to promote a culture of peace, inter alia, by adopting their own programme of activities to complement the initiatives of Member States, the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, in line with the Declaration and Programme of Action;

17. Invites Member States, all entities of the United Nations system and civil society organizations to accord increasing attention to their observance of the International Day of Peace on 21 September each year as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, in accordance with its resolution 55/282 of 7 September 2001, and of the International Day of Non-Violence on 2 October, in accordance with its resolution 61/271 of 15 June 2007;

18. Requests the President of the General Assembly to consider convening a high-level forum, as appropriate and within existing resources, devoted to the implementation of the Programme of Action on the occasion of the anniversary of its adoption, on or around 13 September, and requests the Secretariat to provide required logistical support for its effective organization within their respective mandates and existing resources;

19. Invites the Secretary-General, within existing resources, in consultation with the Member States and taking into account the observations of civil society organizations, to explore mechanisms and strategies, in particular strategies in the sphere of information and communications technology, for the implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action and to initiate outreach efforts to increase global awareness of the Programme of Action and its eight areas of action aimed at their implementation, including through public information activities by the Department of Global Communications of the Secretariat;

20. Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its seventy-ninth session a report, within existing resources, on actions taken by Member States, on the basis of information provided by them, and those taken system-wide by all concerned entities of the United Nations to implement the present resolution;

21. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-eighth session the item entitled “Culture of peace”.

Following the presentation by Bangladesh, the resolution was welcomed by Brunei Darussalam, speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), by Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations, by Barbados, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Other speakers were from Syria, Malaysia, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Equatorial Guinea and Iran, and an exchange of criticisms between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Beyond borders: Why new ‘high seas’ treaty is critical for the world


An article from the United Nations

The UN’s 193 Member States adopted a landmark legally binding marine biodiversity agreement on Monday (June 19) following nearly two decades of fierce negotiations over forging a common wave of conservation and sustainability in the high seas beyond national boundaries – covering two thirds of the planet’s oceans. Here are five key points on why it is important for the world..

© Nuno Vasco Rodrigues/UN World Oceans Day 2023 A team of scientific divers assess the marine biodiversity on the top of a seamount in Porto Santo, Madeira, Portugal.

1. Fresh protection beyond borders

While countries are responsible for the conservation and sustainable use of waterways under their national jurisdiction, the high seas now have added protection from such destructive trends as pollution and unsustainable fishing activities.

Adopted by the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), the “high seas” treaty aims at taking stewardship of the ocean on behalf of present and future generations, in line with the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The new agreement contains 75 articles that aim at protecting, caring for, and ensuring the responsible use of the marine environment, maintaining the integrity of ocean ecosystems, and conserving the inherent value of marine biological diversity.

“The ocean is the lifeblood of our planet, and today, you have pumped new life and hope to give the ocean a fighting chance,” the UN Secretary-General António Guterres told delegates on Monday.

2. Cleaner oceans

Toxic chemicals and millions of tons of plastic waste are flooding into coastal ecosystems, killing or injuring fish, sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals, and making their way into the food chain and ultimately being consumed by humans.

More than 17 million metric tons of plastic entered the world’s ocean in 2021, making up 85 per cent of marine litter, and projections are expected to double or triple each year by 2040, according to the latest Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) report.

According to UN estimates, by 2050, there could be more plastic in the sea than fish unless action is taken.

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Question for this article:

If we can connect up the planet through Internet, can’t we agree to preserve the planet?

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The treaty aims at strengthening resilience and contains provisions based on the polluter-pays principle as well as mechanisms for disputes.

Under the treaty’s provisions, parties must assess potential environmental impacts of any planned activities beyond their jurisdictions.

3. Sustainably managing fish stocks

More than one third of global fish stocks are over-exploited, according to the UN.

The treaty underlines the importance of capacity building and the transfer of marine technology, including the development and strengthening of institutional capacity and national regulatory frameworks or mechanisms.

This includes increasing collaboration among regional seas organizations and regional fisheries management organizations.

4. Lowering temperatures

Global heating is pushing ocean temperatures to new heights, fueling more frequent and intense storms, rising sea levels, and the salinization of coastal lands and aquifers.

Addressing these urgent concerns, the treaty offers guidance, including through an integrated approach to ocean management that builds ecosystem resilience to tackle the adverse effects of climate change and ocean acidification, and maintains and restores ecosystem integrity, including carbon cycling services.

Treaty provisions also recognize the rights and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, the freedom of scientific research, and need for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits.

5. Vital for realizing 2030 Agenda

The new agreement “is critical to addressing the threats facing the ocean, and to the success of ocean-related goals and targets, including the 2030 Agenda, the UN chief said on Monday.

Some of the goals and targets include Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, which aims at, among other things, preventing and significantly reducing marine pollution of all kinds by 2025, and ending overfishing through science-based management plans in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible.

The new agreement will enable the establishment of area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, to conserve and sustainably manage vital habitats and species in the high seas and the international seabed area.

The treaty also considers the special circumstances facing small-island and landlocked developing nations.

“We have a new tool,” UN General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi told the Intergovernmental Conference delegates on Monday. “This landmark achievement bears witness to your collective commitment to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Together, you laid the foundation for a better stewardship of our seas, ensuring their survival for generations to come.”

Learn more about how the UN is working to protect the world’s oceans here.

United Nations: Values of Compassion, Respect, Human Fraternity ‘Best Antidote to Poison of Discord, Division’, Secretary-General Tells Security Council


An article from the United Nations

The declaration “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” — co-authored by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb — is a model for compassion and human solidarity, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council today, as speakers warned against a groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, anti-Muslim hatred, virulent antisemitism and attacks on minority Christian communities.

Pope Francis and Ahmed el-Tayeb sign the Document on Human Fraternity

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that hatred of the other is a common denominator to the escalation of conflict and a conduit for atrocity crimes.  Today, “social media has equipped hatemongers with a global bullhorn for bile”, and unverified assertions or outright lies are placed on an equal footing with facts and science.  Hate-fuelled language is moving from the margins to the mainstream, triggering real-life violence, he observed, noting that in Myanmar, social media has been exploited to demonize the Rohingya minority, inciting attacks and violence.  In Iraq, the recent proliferation of hate speech targeting Yazidis in Sinjar has stoked fears among the community that it will once again be the target of atrocity crimes.

Accordingly, he outlined concrete measures to make the digital space more inclusive and safer, including through the Global Digital Compact for an open, free, inclusive and secure digital future for all.  Calling for a surge in education financing, peacebuilding and global solidarity, he said that the values of compassion, respect and human fraternity are “our best antidote to the poison of discord and division”.  He further emphasized that it is the duty of religious leaders to prevent instrumentalization of hatred amidst their followers.

Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, rejected claims that Islam is a religion of the sword or war, insisting that war is only acceptable for self-defence.  Urging the international community to move away from pointless conflicts, he noted tragedies caused by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In Syria, Libya and Yemen, ancient civilizations have been destroyed, and these lands have become battlegrounds forcing their people to flee. Highlighting efforts made by religious leaders to promote human fraternity, he said Al-Azhar Al-Sharif aims to identify shared responsibilities in addressing climate change and the escalating wars.

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Question related to this article:
How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?

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

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“It seems […] that we are going backwards in history, with the rise of myopic, extremist, resentful and aggressive nationalisms that have kindled conflicts which are not only anachronistic and outdated, but even more violent,” said Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States for the Observer State of the Holy See, speaking on behalf of Pope Francis. Today’s globalized world is experiencing the famine of fraternity, whose worst effect is armed conflict and war, he said, adding that to make peace a reality, the international community “must move away from the logic of the legitimacy of war”.  There is still time to write a new chapter of peace in history, he said.

In the ensuing debate, speakers underscored that human fraternity can help build a better world and advance peace, recognizing the significant role of community and religious leaders in cultivating tolerance.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates said the world is facing the highest number of armed conflicts since the Second World War, with 2 billion people living in places affected by conflict, while extremism has become a tool for inciting violence.  Spotlighting the challenges experienced by the Arab region, she drew attention to a draft resolution — submitted to the Council by her country and the United Kingdom — which seeks to address the threats of hate speech, racism and other forms of extremism in conflict situations.

Echoing his support for the draft, the speaker for the United Kingdom underscored that religious minorities have time and again been targeted in conflict, including the Yazidis in Iraq, the Rohingya in Myanmar and the Baha’i in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.  Religious communities and leaders can play a unique role in conflict prevention, reconciliation and peacebuilding initiatives, including at the grassroots level, where inter-religious and intercultural dialogue can help build trust between communities, he said.

Adding to that, Mozambique’s delegate emphasized that places of worship such as churches, mosques and synagogues should not be used as incubators of religious extremists or as battlefields.  Instead, they must be used for the purpose of peace and human fraternity.  Dialogue plays a key role in reversing this dangerous trend, she observed, noting the importance of peacebuilding mechanisms in addressing intolerance, hate speech, racism and other manifestations of extremism.

The universal premise of achieving a culture of peace seems to be increasingly distant, cautioned the representative of Ecuador, pointing to the unprecedented number of displaced persons, the devastation caused by natural hazards and the resurgence of hate speech.  Focusing on the roots of conflicts and the adoption of timely prevention measures is key to sustain the peacebuilding agenda, he said, highlighting the potential of preventive diplomacy to avoid escalations in violence.

For his part, China’s delegate rejected the concept of superior or inferior civilizations and cited attempts to transform or replace other civilizations as “disastrous” when applied to practice.  Specifically, he recalled that white supremacy wreaked devastation in Asia and Africa.  Nonetheless, he pointed to encouraging developments in the Middle East, including the resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran — an outcome of the Beijing dialogue — setting off reconciliation in the region.  Also, he said that developments such as Syria’s return to the League of Arab States inject positive energy into the unity of regional countries.