#UN; #UNICEF; #Peace; #ChildrenAttacked;#ChildrenRights; #UNChildrenFund
United Nations, Dec 30 (Canadian-Media): Conflicts around the world are lasting longer and claiming more young lives, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said on Monday, as the agency reported that over this ‘deadly decade’, there has been a three-fold rise in verified attacks on children since 2010 – an average of 45 violations a day, United Nations reports said.
A 10-year-old girl stands by metal debris which was once part of a girls' school that was destroyed during a bomb blast in 2015, in Bodyalai village, Afghanistan.
Image credit: © UNICEF/Marko Kokic
“Attacks on children continue unabated as warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children,” said Ms. Fore, noting that the number of countries experiencing conflict is the highest it has been since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.
With dozens of violent armed conflicts killing and maiming children and forcing them from their homes, the UNICEF chief said that for every act of violence against children that creates headlines and cries of outrage, “there are many more that go unreported.”
In 2018, the UN verified more than 24,000 grave violations against children, including killing, maiming, sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access, child recruitment and attacks on schools and hospitals. While monitoring and reporting efforts have been strengthened, this number is more than two-and-a-half times higher than that recorded in 2010.
Attacks and violence against children have not let up throughout 2019. During the first half of the year, the UN has verified over 10,000 such violations against children – although actual numbers are likely to be much higher – in conflict zones from northern Syria to eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and eastern Ukraine.
As 2019 draws to a close with “no letup in the attacks and violence against children in sight,” UNICEF is calling on all warring parties to abide by their obligations under international law and to immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and water infrastructure.
The UN Children’s Fund is also calling on States with influence over parties to conflict to use that influence to protect children.
#UN; #peacefulChristmas; #BlessedNewYear; #PopeFrancis; #Vatican; #Rome; #CatholicChurch
Vatican (Rome), Dec 25 (Canadian-Media): While visiting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres extended wishes for a peaceful Christmas and a blessed New Year, UN reports said.
Secretary-General António Guterres (right) has an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome. UN Photo/Rein Skullerud
“In these turbulent and trying times, we must stand together for peace and harmony”, said the UN chief. “And that is the spirit of this season”.
He told the Pontiff that his “vision, guidance and example” reflects this in abundance.
Meeting with the Pope just a few days before Christmas was especially meaningful for Mr. Guterres.
“My deepest thanks to you, your Holiness, and my best wishes, to all those celebrating, for a Christmas in peace and a blessed New Year”, he concluded.
For his part, Pope Francis advocated for building trust and goodwill among people.
"Confidence in dialogue, in multilateralism, in the role of international organizations, in diplomacy as a tool for comprehension and understanding, is indispensable for building a peaceful world," he said.
Likewise, the head of the Catholic Church considered that "Christmas, in its authentic simplicity, reminds us that what truly counts in life is love."
#UN; #UNPeace; #UNAMA
New York, Dec 23 (Canadian-Media): Welcoming the preliminary results for Afghanistan’s presidential election on Sunday, the head of the United Nations mission in the country urged the authorities and all actors to “protect the integrity of the final stage of the process.”
Afghans gather to vote in the presidential election at polling stations in Paktya, the capital city of Gardez province in the southeastern region. (Septermber 2019). Image credits: UNAMA/Haqmal Masoodzai
Afghanistan “braved security threats” in September to cast their votes in the country's presidential ballot for a better future, Tadamichi Yamamoto, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said on Sunday, urging everyone to “safeguard and complete the election”.
“Those voters deserve to be commended for carrying out their civic duty,” stressed Mr. Yamamoto, who is also the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the country.
“Any decisions taken by the electoral management bodies in the final stage of the process must have clear legal and technical justifications and should be explained to the people of Afghanistan in clear terms.”, he spelled out.
According to the preliminary results, President Ashraf Ghani won a slim majority of votes after a poll marred by allegations of fraud plunged the country into a political crisis.
News reports highlighted that Afghanistan could split further along tribal and ethnic lines without a unifying leader accepted by all sides and also pointed out that the result came at a critical juncture as the United States is showing a keen interest in negotiating a peace settlement with the Taliban to end an 18-year-long war.
The UN underscored the importance of an orderly, careful process leading up to the final results and reiterated that the election process is a joint responsibility, including by the electoral management bodies and candidates, as well as media and civil society.
“All candidates have the chance to raise any concerns they may have through the appropriate mechanism and within the prescribed time, in accordance with the relevant legal frameworks, regulations and procedures,” the UNAMA chief stated.
Voters deserve to be commended for carrying out their civic duty -- UN mission head
At the same time, he upheld that Afghanistan's Election Complaints Commission (ECC) “has an obligation to adjudicate any complaints it receives transparently and thoroughly so the election process may conclude in a credible manner.”
UNAMA will continue working to support Afghanistan’s electoral authorities, fight fraud and provide impartial and expert advice toward a transparent and credible election process based on rule of law.
On Monday Mr. Yamamoto told the Security Council that when credibility completed the election will “become a milestone in the history of establishing a representative political system of the country”.
#Rome; #UN; #Peace&Security, #refugeeCrisis, #poverty, #inequality, #climateemergency
Vatican (Rome), Dec 21 (Canadian-Media): In the midst of “turbulent and trying times”, all the world’s people must stand together in peace and harmony, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General said on Friday. António Guterres was speaking following an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, who he thanked for his strong support for the global Organization, UN reports said.
The UN chief praised the head of the Roman Catholic Church for being “a messenger of humanity” who has spoken out on issues such as the refugee crisis, poverty, inequality and the climate emergency.
“These messages coincide with the core values of the United Nations Charter – namely to reaffirm the dignity and worth of the human person. To promote love of people and care for our planet. To uphold our common humanity and protect our common home. Our world needs that more than ever”, he said.
Climate action now
Mr. Guterres arrived in Rome from Madrid, which hosted the recent UN climate conference known as COP25, which ended with no overall consensus.
He called on countries to commit to the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, which scientists say is necessary for the planet to survive.
Pope Francis also underlined the need for urgent climate action.
Speaking in Spanish, he gave thanks for those who strive to create a more humane and just society and urged people everywhere to listen to the young people pushing for a better world.
“It is necessary to recognize oneself as members of a single humanity and to take care of our land which, generation after generation, has been entrusted to us by God in custody so that we may cultivate it and leave it in inheritance to our children. Commitment to reducing polluting emissions and comprehensive ecology is urgent and necessary: let's do something before it's too late,” he said.
The Pope also warned against indifference to the suffering of others.
“We cannot - we must not - look the other way at the injustices, the inequalities, the scandal of hunger in the world, of poverty, of children who die because they have no water, food, the necessary care. We can't look the other way at any kind of abuse against the little ones. We must fight this plague together,” he said.
Peace needed in turbulent times
The meeting between the two leaders fell just ahead of Christmas, which the Secretary-General described as a time of peace and goodwill.
However, he expressed sadness that some Christian communities are unable to celebrate the holiday in safety. At the same time, Jewish and Muslim communities are also being persecuted, while members of all three religions have been killed for their faith, including in houses of worship.
Mr. Guterres stressed that more must be done to promote mutual understanding and tackle rising hatred.
“In these turbulent and trying times, we must stand together for peace and harmony. And that is the spirit of this season”, he stated.
Pope Francis called for people everywhere to have greater faith in the international community.
“Trust in dialogue between people and between nations, in multilateralism, in the role of international organizations, in diplomacy as an instrument for understanding and understanding, is indispensable to build a peaceful world,” he said.
#UN; #Syria; #SyrianConstitutionalCommittee; #Peace; #Security
United Nations, Dec 20 (Canadian-Media): The second session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, aiming to create a new post-war political road map for the country, failed to get off the ground due to lack of consensus over the agenda, the UN Special Envoy for the country told the Security Council on Friday.
However, Geir Pederson assured ambassadors that there are lessons to be learned from the meeting of the so-called “small body” of the Committee, held in Geneva in late November.
“When I last briefed this Council, we had just concluded a successful opening session of the Constitutional Committee. This second session was obviously very different in both substance and tone, but disagreement on the agenda is typical for any political process”, he said.
Hope for agreement While the full committee is made up of around 150, the small body consists of 45 representatives from the Syrian Government, opposition and civil society, which initially met in Geneva in October.
Mr. Pedersen had asked the two co-chairs to submit their agenda proposals ahead of the second session, which began on 25 November.
The opposition’s work plan, sent on 21 November, featured 10 constitutional headings and focused on the preamble to the constitution, as well as basic principles.
The Government proposed an agenda on 25 November which called for discussion of “national pillars” of concern to the Syrian people. Constitutional matters would only be taken up afterwards.
Mr. Pedersen worked to facilitate consensus between the sides, which was not possible.
“I hope agreement can be reached promptly on an agenda that falls in line with the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure of the Constitutional Committee,” he stated.
“As things stand, and absent an agreed agenda, I see no reason to convene another session of the small body.”
Pre-conditions not allowed
The UN envoy described the Constitutional Committee as “fragile.”
For progress to occur, the sides will have to allow their members to work professionally on the constitutional issues, he said in citing lessons learned over the five days in Geneva.
Furthermore, any proposed agenda must comply with the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure, which parties have agreed.
“This means that all issues are open for discussion within the Committee, without preconditions and without making consideration of one issue dependent on resolution of another,” he explained. “And it also means that issues should be framed and fall under a constitutional heading.”
Mr. Pedersen said what happened at the second session only underscores the need for a broader and comprehensive political process for Syria, which has been embroiled in a brutal civil conflict since 2011.
“Indeed, while I believe that while a Constitutional Committee cannot solve the crisis, it can help foster the trust and confidence between the parties, and that can open the door to a broader process—and, equally, such a broader process can feed positively into the work on the constitutional issues.
UN; #ItalianSenate; #MultilateralSolutions; #UNPeace
Rome (Italy), Dec 19 (Canadian-Media): Shifting balances of power are triggering “new and dangerous risks”, the UN chief told the Italian Senate in Rome on Wednesday, pointing to the need for more coordinated international responses, focused on solutions, UN reports said.
In Rome, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses a special session of the Italian parliament. Credits: UN Photo/Rein Skullerud
Against the backdrop of asymmetric conflicts between States and non-State groups and a renewed threat of nuclear proliferation, Secretary-General António Guterres maintained that “prevention is more essential than ever”, and the only path to stability lies in more multilateralism.
He told politicians in the Italian capital that 5 widening fault lines threaten the well-being of all:
1. Failure of global solidarity with the most vulnerable
Deeply troubled that refugees and migrants continue to die as they cross seas and deserts, the Secretary-General encouraged “collective responses”, including job programmes which would give young people a reason not to leave home in the first place.
He said migration and resettlement pathways needed to be made more secure.
He also pointed to a “troubling pushback against human rights” globally, including rising misogyny, xenophobia and hate speech, which must be challenged with leadership and political courage, “based on reason and facts”. “Diversity is not a threat but an asset”, he stated.
2. Disconnect between people and planet
Climate-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent, deadly and destructive, with growing human and financial costs, threatening ecosystems, endangering food security, triggering conflicts, and forcing people from their homes.
More political will is needed he said, to stop subsidizing fossil fuels and building coal power plants. Instead, nature-based solutions must be harnessed, with a shift inside developing countries towards adaptation, better disaster response and recovery.
3. Growing economic gaps dividing the world
Unrest around the world in recent months has shown the urgency of moving towards equality, with social and economic systems that work for everyone. People need more of a say in decisions that affect their lives, said the UN chief.
Peaceful, stable societies require equal opportunities and “respect for the rights and freedoms of all”, Mr. Guterres argued, calling for a fairer, more inclusive social contract.
4. Growing technological divide
While new technologies offer tools for peace and sustainable development, they also pose risks, if misused, increasing divisions and adding to exclusion and inequality.
To address this, the UN chief upheld that long-term technology education strategies be put into place along with social protections and flexible regulation frameworks to confront digital challenges, such as a ban on lethal autonomous weapons that “kill without human intervention”.
5. Geostrategic fractures
Mr. Guterres stressed the need to preserve a global system with a universal economy that respects international law – “a multipolar world with solid multilateral institutions”.
Multilateralism, links “local actions and urgent global priorities”, he said, elaborating that fighting the climate emergency means advancing peace and social cohesion. Preventing crises means investing in inclusive, sustainable development; and expanding technology access means taking action for gender equality.
#SouthSudan; #Africa; #Peace&Security; #UniformGovernment
South Sudan (Africa), Dec 17 (Canadian-Media): Extending the deadline for the establishment of a unity government in South Sudan has helped maintain a ceasefire but also disillusioned many citizens, the Security Council heard on Tuesday, UN reports said.
Ethiopian peacekeepers deployed to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) escort a group of women outside a UN-run site and create a safe perimeter within which they can search for firewood without being at risk of attack, 28 March 2017. Image Credits: UNMISS\Nektarios Markogiannis
David Shearer, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), briefed ambassadors on developments towards the new administration, amid ongoing humanitarian concerns worsened by recent flooding.
President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar were expected to form a unified transitional Government by mid-November, in line with a revitalized peace agreement signed last September. With days to go, that deadline was extended by a further 100 days.
Mr. Shearer reported that the peace deal has led to “a transformative process” in South Sudan, which has recorded steep declines in civilian casualties and abductions, as well as sexual violence, while improved security has prompted at least 645,000 displaced people to flee their homes.
“But the choice to delay a transitional government twice has dampened initial hopes, eroded some trust and confidence, and caused people to suspect that the political will between the parties is waning”, the UNMISS chief said, speaking via videoconference from New Zealand.
Progress needed on key issues South Sudan is the world’s youngest country, having attained independence from Sudan in July 2011. However, it has been mired in political instability and violence for the past six years.
Mr. Shearer underlined the international community’s support for the nation, including by the African Union, regional body IGAD, and the UN Security Council.
“The international engagement, together with Dr. Riek Machar’s presence in Juba over the past week, and during face-to-face meetings with President Kiir, has led to positive statements from both leaders in the past 24 hours”, he reported.
Mr. Shearer informed the Council that by mid-January, there needs to be progress in key areas of the peace agreement, such as the reunification of forces but also on states and boundaries.
“Because power and access to resources is heavily vested in states, and in turn, often linked to ethnic groups, it means that this particular issue is politically charged”, he explained.
Fighting and flooding threatens citizens Meanwhile, conflict continues to take a toll on South Sudan’s people.
While the ceasefire has largely held, the UN mission chief warned that a recent spike in inter-communal clashes risks spilling into more serious political violence.
At the same time, some 900,000 people have been affected by flooding which has washed away crops, destroyed homes and sparked fears of famine. Humanitarians have launched a $1.5 billion plan to support some 5.6 million people next year.
Looking to 2020, Mr. Shearer said the choices that South Sudan’s leaders make now will determine this country’s future for generations to come.
He stressed that ultimately it is up to the sides to display the political will to fully implement the agreement to form the new government.
“The joint meetings in the past days between President Kiir and Dr Riek Machar are encouraging, with both sides recommitting themselves to the peace process. It has restored some of the optimism and momentum that has been lost with the delays in the peace agreement,” he said.
“All parties now need to choose to follow on with their words, and the international partners need to remain fully resolute, as I am sure they will do, in their support.”
#UN; #UNPeace; #Afghanistan; #Peace&Security; #AfghanistanPeace&Security; #SearchForPeace
Afghanistan, Dec 17 (Canadian-Media): The search for peace will remain of “paramount importance” to Afghanistan as the country awaits the outcome of the recent presidential election, the top UN official in the country told the Security Council on Dec 16, media reports said.
Tadamichi Yamamoto, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), updated ambassadors on developments since voting took place in late September.
“When the election is completed with credibility, it will become a milestone in the history of establishing a representative political system of the country”, he stated.
Mr. Yamamoto explained that preliminary results are yet to be announced as stakeholders want to ensure the electoral process was as transparent and credible as possible.
“Whatever the outcome of the presidential election may be, peace will be the issue of paramount importance to the new administration," he said.
"Even while we await the outcome of the elections, efforts for peace have not ceased. Talks between the United States and the Taliban have resumed. Efforts are underway to continue with the intra-Afghan dialogue. President Ghani outlined his thoughts on peace at the Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference. These efforts reflect the strong yearning for peace by all, particularly the people of Afghanistan.”
Rise in attacks against aid workers
The election marked the fourth time that Afghans have gone to the polls since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
Ongoing operations by the terrorist group continue to exact an appalling toll on the country.
Every day, more than 100 people there are killed or wounded, according to Aisha Khurram, Afghan Youth Delegate for the United Nations, who spoke in the chamber.
Aisha Khurram, Afghan Youth Delegate for the United Nations, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan. Image Credits: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
She said the Security Council meeting was taking place at a “critical but highly uncertain” period for her country.
“The ongoing peace process, presidential elections and the possible foreign troops withdrawal are going hand-in-hand to define the fate and future of our country at a time when Afghans are deeply frustrated and weary of the continued violence”, Ms. Khurram stated.
“This isn’t just a war on terrorism anymore; this is now a war against innocent civilians that want nothing but peace.”
Mr. Yamamato expressed alarm over increased attacks against humanitarians, such as the recent killings of American Anil Rhaj, who worked for the UN, and Tetsu Nakamura, a Japanese doctor who had been awarded honorary citizenship for his decades of service to the country.
“I am similarly concerned about the rise in threats and attacks against human rights defenders in Afghanistan, and those with different political views”, he said, adding that the UN will continue to work to strengthen protection for civil society groups.
While peace remains a priority, the national authorities are also focused on protecting Afghanistan against all terrorist threats, the country’s UN representative told the Council.
Ambassador Adela Raz described the Taliban as providing “an enabling ecosystem” for Daesh, Al-Qaeda and other groups.
“Looking forward, our focus should not only be on defeating terrorists on the ground, but it also should look to countering their extremist ideologies and the sources of financing from their nexus with organized crime and the illegal narcotics trade”, she said.
#Libya, #LibyanArmy, #Misurata, #LibyaMilitary; #airstrikes
Tripoli, Dec 16 (Canadian-Media): An announcement was made on Monday regarding the eastern-based army of Libya's launch of airstrikes on location in Misurata city, some 200 km east of the capital Tripoli, and destroying locations storing military equipment belonging to the UN-backed government forces, media reports said.
Airstrikes in Tripoli/Twitter
On saturday itself the announcement was made by the eastern-based army that an airstrike on the Misurata air base and destroying sites used to store Turkish-made drones would be launched with a warning not to used the city's ships and airplanes against transporting Turkish military equipment.
On Sunday, Misurata declared in a statement regarding mobilization of forces to counter intensified strikes of the eastern-based army on the city confirming the establishment of an emergency chamber in the city to confront the eastern-based army.
''We declare mobilization in the city and place all Misurata's capabilities under the command of the state for the final battle in order to eliminate tyranny...call upon the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord to fully exploit those opportunities and use all the public possibilities in the final battle," the statement said.
During the eastern-based army campaign in and around Tripoli since early April, trying to take over the city and topple the UN-backed government, thousands have been killed and injured in the fighting, and more than 120,000 people fled their homes from the violence.
Khalifa Haftar, commander of the eastern-based army had declared on Thursday the launch of the final stage of the military campaign in and around the Tripoli, ordering his troops to further advance into the city .
United Nations, Dec 13 (Canadian-Media): When warring parties in Yemen met in a renovated castle outside the Swedish capital last December for UN-brokered talks, they showed that perhaps there could be a way out of brutal conflict and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the UN Special Envoy for the country said this week, UN reports said.
Yemen’s foreign minister Khaled al-Yamani (left) and Head of Ansarullah delegation Mohammed Amdusalem (right) shake hands on a ceasefire in and around the Yemeni port of Hudaydah, in the presence of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres (centre) and the host of the meeting, the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. Image credit: Government Offices of Sweden/Ninni Andersson
Martin Griffiths sat down for an exclusive interview with UN News to review the Stockholm Agreement, the historic outcome of the talks which marked the first time in two years that the internationally-recognized Government and Houthi opposition leaders had come to the negotiating table, and talk face-to-face.
“We came out of the Sweden talks very buoyed up by the fact that for the first time ever, the two parties had made a voluntary agreement between themselves. So, we were very pleased about that”, he said.
The Stockholm Agreement resulted in a ceasefire in the rebel-held but contested port of Hudaydah, on the Red Sea, vital for the flow of food and humanitarian aid into Yemen.
At the time, the World Food Programme (WFP) called it “key” to importing roughly 70 per cent of humanitarian needs.
“Yes, certainly, there have been achievements”, Mr. Griffiths stated in his interview just ahead of a closed-door Security Council meeting on Yemen in New York on Thursday. “People's lives have been saved, the humanitarian programme has been protected, and I think it also showed that the parties could actually agree on a different way out of a crisis.”
Despite the conflict, migrants from Horn of Africa countries have come to Yemen in search of a better life. Workers from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) supervise Somali returnees as they board an IOM boat before departing Aden port, Yemen, on an overnight voyage to Bosaso in northern Somalia. (November 2018). Credit: OCHA/Giles Clarke
However, he reported that negotiations are still ongoing over re-deployments to “de-militarize” Hudaydah, where pro-Government and Houthi forces have continued to largely observe the fragile ceasefire throughout the year.
The Special Envoy also expressed grave disappointment over lack of progress on prisoner exchange, one of the key elements under the Agreement.
“Many people, and I'm one of them, believe we could have done a much better job of implementing the Stockholm Agreement in these 12 months. And it has been for many of us, but particularly for the people in Yemen for whom it's a primary issue, a disappointment in many, many ways”, he said reflectively.
Young boys standing in front of damaged buildings in Saada, Yemen, where bombing has left many neighbourhoods in the city strewn with wreckage and debris following ground fighting between armed groups.
Image credit: WFP/Jonathan Dumont
World’s worst humanitarian crisis The conflict in Yemen has generated the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and has pushed the country to the edge of economic decline. Roughly 24 million people, or 80 per cent of the population, require assistance, according to the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) further reports that two million children are out of school, including nearly half a million who had dropped out since the fighting began in March 2015.
These are reasons why peace is so desperately needed in Yemen, Mr. Griffiths told UN News.
“If there is any argument in favour of the need for speed towards a political solution to this war, it is those people, those families, who daily suffer from the effects of conflict: families whose children haven't been to school for five years; families who have struggled to get food on their plates on a daily basis”, he said.
“But any political solution anywhere in any conflict—and I have had the, perhaps, awful privilege of a lifetime of being confronted by conflict—is immensely difficult.”
Cereal stored in Dhubab, Taiz Governorate, in Yemen. The World Food Programme (WFP) grain stored in Hudaydah's Red Sea Mills has been inaccessible for over 5 months and is at risk of rotting.
Image credit: UNOCHA/Giles Clarke
A ‘shift’ towards peace – no military solution Mr. Griffiths has extensive experience in diplomacy and previously served as an adviser to three Special Envoys of the UN Secretary-General for Syria.
Moving from war to peace demands political will, which he described as a “shift” in how enemy sides view victory—and each other.
“What I believe is happening now in Yemen is that at last in Yemen, we're beginning to see that shift take place", he stated.
“We're beginning to see in the hearts and minds of those who make decisions about the war, the desire to make peace and the recognition at a fundamental level that there is no prospect for military advantage; that there is nothing to be won on the battlefield, and that there is a huge victory, of course, to be made in the terrain of negotiation.”
Mr. Griffiths stressed that peace agreements also must be inclusive if they are to succeed.
The Office of the UN Special Envoy engages with women’s organizations, as well as civil society, in Yemen. Its Women’s Advisory Group works to ensure they are part of any future talks towards a peace agreement.
“The power of transition, and the relevance of transition after a civil war, is that it allows those who have been marginalized by the war, who are not part of those who make decisions about how to conduct war—women are an obvious example—to get back to their place in the centre of public life”, he explained.
“We need to be held to account—the parties, and indeed us as the mediator—that these provisions will be made in that agreement.”
Lessons learned in Sweden
Despite his decades in negotiation, conflict resolution, mediation and humanitarian affairs, Mr. Griffiths stated that he is still learning on the job.
The veteran diplomat left the picturesque Swedish countryside retreat last December with several lessons under his belt.
“What it really taught me very, very strongly was that there are certain issues which will not be resolved by agreements at the sub-national level; specific agreements on different places”, he said.
“We have to address the fundamental issues of sovereignty, of legitimacy, through an agreement to end the war.”
And with regards to the complex relations that exist in the de facto Government capital of Aden in southern Yemen, between Government leaders and their secessionist allies, known as the Southern Transitional Council, Mr. Griffiths had a warning.
Following a period of in-fighting between the two in August that saw the Council take control of Aden, the sides came together in the Saudi capital in early November, emerging with what became known as the Riyadh Agreement.
Mr. Griffiths hailed that at the time as “an important step for our collective efforts to advance a peaceful settlement”. In his interview with UN News, he said that it would be a “devastating blow” to long-term peace efforts if that deal falls apart.
Despite reported difficulties in the implementation of the agreement, Mr. Griffiths said it was “a bit early yet” to say it was not working.
“More importantly, I think we can see that there is interest in both the Government of Yemen and the Southern Transitional Council in making it work: perhaps not in all its aspects, but in enough to allow us, in our UN process, to mediate an end to the overall conflict.”