#UN; #Sudan; #PoliticalTransformation; #USSecurityCouncil; #UNAMID; #GenderIssues;#UNITAMS
Sudan/UN, Sep 26 (Canadian-Media): Political developments in Sudan continue to move along a positive trajectory, while planning for a UN mission to assist the transitional government is progressing, the UN Security Council heard on Friday.
UN peacekeepers from Pakistan engage the local population in North Darfur, Sudan. Image credit: UNAMID
Ambassadors met in person in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber at UN Headquarters in New York, where they were briefed by UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo, and the head of UN Peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.
“As the Secretary-General highlights in his report, Sudan’s political transition continues to move in the right direction”, said Ms. DiCarlo, speaking via video link.
Developments on the political front
After nearly a year of talks, the transitional Government of Sudan and two key armed movements from Darfur - the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) alliance and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Minni Minnawi (SLM/MM) - initialed a peace agreement at the end of August.
Signing is scheduled for 3 October, and the parties have agreed to a 39-month transitional period effective from that date.
A faction from another group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), has also signed a declaration of principles agreement.
Significant work ahead Ms. DiCarlo outlined other recent developments in Sudan, including the appointment of interim civilian governors in all 18 states, two of whom are women.
She said the parties should be commended for persevering with the peace process, adding that “it is not too late” for others to join.
“As we embrace the recent progress in the peace process, we are also mindful of the significant work ahead”, she cautioned.
“The various accords and respective peace agreements on regional issues must be moulded into a single, coherent framework. Additionally, the parties and the Government must form a joint vision on the way forward and to uphold their respective commitments.”
Goodwill into action For the UN’s peacekeeping chief, the initialling of the agreement marked an important milestone for Darfur, where years of brutal fighting have left some 300,000 people dead and millions of others displaced, according to UN estimates.
Mr. Lacroix hoped the goodwill expressed by the parties will translate into lasting change on the ground, although some “key players” have yet to join the peace process.
He urged the international community to work to bring all stakeholders on board.
“Furthermore, the implementation phase which is now beginning will be just as crucial as the drafting of the agreement itself”, said Mr. Lacroix, who also briefed ambassadors via video-link.
Among the key provisions is a 12,000-strong joint security force for Darfur, to be deployed within 90 days of the signing. It will be made up of equal numbers of members of the Sudanese security forces and from the signatory armed groups.
“As forces are deployed and resources are mobilized in support of the implementation, it is essential to ensure that local Darfuri communities feel ownership of the agreement and fully participate in the implementation,” he stressed.
Progress on new UN mission Meanwhile, planning continues for the new UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), Ms. DiCarlo told the Council.
UNITAMS will assist the political transition, and support implementation of peace accords in conflict areas, national-led peacebuilding efforts, and strengthening of human rights, among other tasks.
“Gender issues are mainstreamed throughout the mandate of the mission, which will have dedicated gender expertise, including at the senior level, to implement our commitments to advance gender equality and the women, peace and security agenda”, said Ms. DiCarlo.
UNITAMS is a follow-on to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The Security Council authorized the establishment of the new mission in June and the start-up team is set to deploy to Sudan next month.
#UN; #UNPeace; #UNSecurity; #NuclearDisarmament; #Covid19
UN, Sep 26 (Canadian-Media): On the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons marked on Saturday, the UN chief has underscored the need to “reverse course and return to a common path to nuclear disarmament”.
Euratom inspectors conduct safeguards inspections at URENCO in the Netherlands. Image credit: IAEA/Dean Calma
Almost 75 years since the adoption of the first General Assembly resolution in 1946, which committed the UN to the goal of ridding the planet of nuclear weapons, “the world continues to live in the shadow of nuclear catastrophe”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message commemorating the day.
Relationships between States possessing nuclear weapons are characterized by “division, distrust and an absence of dialogue”, he warned, noting that as they increasingly choose to pursue strategic competition over cooperation, “the dangers posed by nuclear weapons are becoming more acute”.
According to the UN chief, all States have a responsibility to ensure that such deadly armaments “eliminated completely” from national arsenals.
COVID in the mix
Drawing attention to the wide range of global fragilities brought about by COVID-19 – from pandemic readiness and inequality to climate change to lawlessness in cyberspace – the top UN official called “preparedness to address the threat of nuclear weapons” one of those vulnerabilities.
“We need a strengthened, inclusive and renewed multilateralism built on trust and based on international law that can guide us to our shared goal of a world free of nuclear weapons”, he said.
Pressurize nuclear powers
The UN has long upheld that the onus to lead disarmament is on the States that possess nuclear weapons.
Mr. Guterres concurred that those nations must “return to real, good-faith dialogue to restore trust and confidence, reduce nuclear risk and take tangible steps in nuclear disarmament”.
He also stressed that they reaffirm the shared understanding that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought” and take steps to implement the commitments they have made
A gloomy picture
Yet, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), some 13,400 nuclear weapons remain today.
Moreover, the countries possessing these weapons have well-funded, long-term plans to modernize their nuclear arsenals.
And while the number of deployed nuclear weapons has significantly decreased since the height of the Cold War, SIPRI attests that not one nuclear weapon had been physically destroyed pursuant to a treaty.
Additionally, no meaningful nuclear disarmament negotiations are currently underway.
Mr. Guterres emphasized that the death, suffering and destruction caused by the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki “must not be repeated”.
“The only guarantee against the use of these abhorrent weapons is their total elimination”, spelled out the Secretary-General, adding that the UN “stands ready to work with all States to achieve this shared goal”.
#UN; #UNpeace; #Unity; #multilateralism; #covid19Pandemic; #globalGovernance
UN, Sep 25 (Canadian-Media): The UN Secretary-General on Sep 24 made an unequivocal case for strengthening multilateralism and building trust among the countries of the world in the face of the devastating coronavirus pandemic, which has exposed gaps on multiple fronts.
In Niger attacks by armed groups have been on the rise, exacerbating the plight of communities reeling under the impact of the pandemic. Pictured here, a woman with members of her family, who were forced to flee their homes due to violence and insecurity.
Image credit: UNICEF/Juan Haro
The dangerous mix of high geo-political tensions and complex threats to peace, now complicated by COVID-19, demands innovative thinking on global governance and multilateralism, said António Guterres, briefing the Security Council via video link.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a clear test of international cooperation, “a test we have essentially failed,” he added.
“It has killed nearly one million people around the world, infected over 30 million, and remains largely out of control. This was the result of a lack of global preparedness, cooperation, unity and solidarity.”
Need for networks
With the 15 Council members, also joining remotely, Mr. Guterres called for “networked multilateralism” based on strong links and cooperation between global and regional organizations, international financial institutions, and other global alliances and bodies.
The need is all the more pressing with worsening impact of the pandemic. “We have no choice … Either we come together in global institutions that are fit for purpose, or we will be crushed by divisiveness and chaos”, said the Secretary-General.
Convened by Niger, in its capacity as the President of the Council for the month of September, the summit-level event discussed reforms to global governance in the context of peace and security, against the backdrop of the pandemic. The meeting was chaired by Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of the Niger.
More effective government Alongside the responsibility of the UN to improve the effectiveness of global governance, Member States also have an equally important role in forging collective action to common challenges.
Conflict, human rights abuses, humanitarian crises, and stalled progress on development, reinforce each other and are interlinked, while global response is more and more fragmented, Mr. Guterres warned.
Emulate AU-UN partnership model The Secretary-General highlighted the partnership between the African Union (AU) and UN as a model to be emulated in relationships with other regional organizations, recalling the African Union-United Nations framework on peace and security on the continent.
He called on the Security Council to deepen engagement by creating strong, formalized links and regular communications with the AU’s Peace and Security Council.
Doing so would enable the effective division of labour, allowing for AU peace enforcement and counter-terrorism operations, backed by Security Council mandates, with predictable funding, guaranteed by assessed contributions.
“That is the only way we will build the coalition we need to beat terrorism on the African continent and fulfil the African Union’s flagship initiative to Silence the Guns,” he said.
UN Security Council members hold an open videoconference in connection with Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Global Governance post-COVID-19.AU Commission urges Security-Council to act on its responsibility Also briefing the Security Council, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, voiced concerns over the response, thus far, to the pandemic.
Against the backdrop of COVID impacts – disrupted economies and industries, shuttered schools, hundreds of millions left vulnerable, and international diplomacy thrown severely off track – peace processes have become moribund and conflicts entrenched, he said.
Operations of several peacekeeping missions in Africa have also been hit, with troops unable to deploy to the field. Armed groups and violent elements are exploiting the situation for their vested interests, pushing their tactical advantage and intensify criminal activities.
The Sahel region, Lake Chad basin, Somalia and northern Mozambique provide stark illustrations, said Mr. Mahamat.
Adapting global institutions and tools, to better respond to such threats, which do not respect borders, “is an urgent and pressing task”, he underscored, calling on the Security Council to exercise the responsibilities has been given under the UN Charter.
“The pandemic has made it abundantly and painfully clear that humankind is one indivisible family … we need to show our determination and to pull together our intelligence and response to ensure a renaissance of multilateralism, build stands on our common values,” urged the AU Commission head.
“The people of the world are hungry for effective global governance that can really deliver for them”, he said.
#Afghanistan, #UN; #Peace; #Security; #Violence, #Taliban; #UNAMA
Afghanistan/UN, Sep 5 (Canadian-Media): The UN’s top official in Afghanistan has warned that with the formal launch of direct peace negotiations imminent, near-record violence in the country is creating an atmosphere of mistrust that risks derailing long-sought talks between the Government and the Taliban.
Image credit: Twitter handle
High stakes “The stakes could not be higher”, said Deborah Lyons, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), describing the intra-Afghan talks as a historic moment in the country’s history, as she briefed the Security Council on Thursday.
The conflict, which has raged for four decades, continues to kill hundreds of people each week and has displaced millions over the years – most of whom have no prospects of return.
With the negotiations, hosted by Qatar, set to launch, she exhorted parties to place a humanitarian ceasefire atop the agenda, and pressed all countries to amplify this call as the talks begin.
Thanking Qatar, the United States and Pakistan for their intense diplomacy to bring the parties to this point, she said the pre-talks phase has already raised difficult issues related to prisoner releases, which have taken five months to resolve.
No battlefield solution “Eventually, the negotiations will have to tackle a range of profound questions about the kind of country Afghans want.” Solutions cannot be found on the battlefield or imposed from the outside.
At the same time, she said all parties must do their part to ensure the ground is prepared for peace to flourish. The UN has initiated a dialogue with the two sides on the inclusion of victims’ voices in the peace talks and mechanisms for incorporating victim-centred justice.
“This is a difficult topic, but an essential one”, she said, stressing that only when victims’ grievances are acknowledged and addressed will true reconciliation be possible.
Women’s rights a central theme Women’s rights are also emerging as among the most difficult issues confronting the parties as they enter negotiations – and one around which any compromises will pose a difficult dilemma for Member States. “This issue will be more central in the Afghan peace process than we have ever seen in any other peace negotiation in recent memory”, she assured.
As such, she has initiated meetings with a country-wide network of women who are providing insight into avenues for greater engagement.
“It is women’s representation at the peace table that offers the best opportunity to ensure their own rights are upheld and their vision for a peaceful Afghanistan is reflected in all aspects of the talks”, she emphasized.
As of now, her Office is not aware of any women’s representation for the Taliban, but she is hopeful negotiators will find a way to include women on the team.
Media matters A vibrant media will also be crucial in fostering an inclusive peace, she said. Next week she will host a meeting with a consortium of national media companies to discuss how to best engage civil society in a dialogue during the negotiations.
More broadly, she said that by deepening regional relationships in the areas of trade and transit, infrastructure connectivity, counter-narcotics, people movements and knowledge transfer, Afghanistan can realize its enormous untapped potential and take full advantage of its strategic location at the heart of Asia.
She welcomed the “overwhelming” response to UNAMA’s Ambassadors Working Group meetings by China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
#UN; #Peace; #Security; #OPCW; #ChemicalWeapons; #Russia
UN, Sep 5 (Canadian-Media): The allegation that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned by a Cold War-era nerve agent is “a matter of grave concern”, the head of the UN-backed Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Thursday.
A plaque commemorating the opening of OPCW Headquarters. (file). Image credit: OPCW
Mr. Navalny, a prominent anti-corruption activist, remains in a coma two weeks after falling violently ill during a flight from the town of Tomsk, in Siberia, to Moscow. He was later airlifted to Berlin for treatment, after Russian authorities allowed him to be moved.
The German government reported on Wednesday that toxicology tests conducted by a special military laboratory revealed he had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.
“Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, any poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is considered a use of chemical weapons. Such an allegation is a matter of grave concern,” said OPCW chief Fernando Arias in a statement responding to the announcement.
“States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention deem the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances as reprehensible and wholly contrary to the legal norms established by the international community.”
UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric was also asked about the German report during his regular press briefing on Wednesday, replying, “we’ve said and previously mentioned that, if warranted, the issue should be investigated by relevant authorities.”
Novichok is the name of a group of seven toxic chemical agents developed by the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s.
Two years ago, former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were victims of a chemical agent attack in Salisbury, England.
The United Kingdom alleged that novichok was used in that incident. An OPCW investigating team later confirmed the UK’s findings, though the organization did not specifically name the substance used.
#UN; #Libya; #UNSMIL; #UNHCR; #Migrants; #Covid19;
UN, Sep 2 (Canadian-Media): The top UN official in Libya urged the Security Council on Wednesday to press for an immediate de-escalation of tensions and a return to negotiations, following the call from rival political leaders for a ceasefire on 21 August.
A child runs through the debris and wreckage in downtown Benghazi, Libya.
Image credit: © UNICEF/Giovanni Diffidenti
Stephanie Williams said that the simultaneous yet separate appeals – made by Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads the Presidency Council and is Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Aguila Saleh Issa, President of the House of Representatives in eastern Libya - featured “many points of convergence” that create a chance to move forward on intra-Libyan dialogue.
Their statements met with overwhelming expressions of support from Libyans of all political affiliations, as well as international partners, said Williams, acting head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
Another critical juncture
“It is becoming a regrettable cliché to appear before you and warn that Libya is at a critical juncture, but yet I am compelled to pronounce these same words again,” she told Council members via video-teleconference.
“Libya is indeed at a decisive turning point. Your support – not only in words, but most importantly in action – will help determine whether the country descends into new depths of fragmentation and chaos or progresses towards a more prosperous future.”
Updating the situation since Secretary-General António Guterres briefed the Council on Libya in early July, Ms. Williams said that an uneasy standoff continues around the city of Sirte, imperilling the lives of its 130,000 inhabitants as well as the country’s vital oil infrastructure.
While the frontlines have remained relatively quiet since June, foreign sponsors are continuing to deliver advanced weaponry and equipment – in violation of a UN arms embargo - to the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), or Libyan Arab Armed Forces, led by General Khalifa Haftar, and forces controlled by the internationally recognized GNA.
‘Mercenaries and operatives’“The Mission continues to receive reports of large-scale presence of foreign mercenaries and operatives, further complicating local dynamics and chances of a future settlement”, she said, adding that reports of imminent offensives – often through social media – “exacerbate the rate of miscalculation”.
Reckless actions – like the firing of Grad rockets by General Haftar’s forces into GNA-occupied areas on 26 August and 1 September, despite an agreed ceasefire in June – caused no damage or casualties, but they risk igniting a bigger confrontation.
Now is the time for restraint
“It is imperative that you use your influence to impress on all sides that now is the time for restraint,” she urged Council members.
Adding to the sense of instability are worsening socio-economic conditions that are fuelling popular unrest – notably in the capital Tripoli - and threating the fragile calm required to move political and security talks forward, she added.
“The surge in the use of hate speech and incitement to violence – occasionally stirred through foreign-based media outlets and electronic armies – appears designed to further divide Libyans”.
COVID cases double
The COVID-19 pandemic meanwhile appears to be spiralling out of control in Libya, with the number of confirmed cases more than doubling in the past two weeks, with 15,156 cases and 250 recorded deaths as of Tuesday.
“Nearing full collapse after more than nine years of conflict, the health care system is unable to respond to the additional weight placed by COVID-19 patients along with maintaining normal health services,” she said.
While the UN and its partners are providing medical supplies and increase public awareness of the coronavirus, the Libyan authorities must “cooperate transparently” in a joint fight to control the outbreak, she added.
Migrant and refugee deaths continue
Underscoring humanitarian challenges, she emphasized that migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers – “at great risk to their lives” – are still trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, including 45 people who perished on 18 August when their boat sank off Libya’s east coast.
With more than 7,000 migrants and refugees attempting the crossing this year, and more than 300 dying whilst doing so, she said European countries should consider “a more humane and predictable disembarkation mechanism” in line with their international human rights and search and rescue obligations.
“Libya cannot be considered as a safe port for disembarkation,” she said, noting that almost 2,400 migrants and refugees are in official detention centres in Libya where their human rights are routinely violated.
Many more are in unofficial sites that the UN cannot access, she added.