#UN; #ValueOfCooperation; #ASEAN; #Peace&Security; #Disasters; #ClimateChange
United Nations, Jan 30 (Canadian-Media): In a briefing to the Security Council on Thursday, Secretary-General António Guterres underlined the value of cooperation between the UN and the 10-member regional bloc, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), UN news release said.
Girls from an indigenous community read outdoors at Ban Pho Primary School in Bac Han District in remote Lao Cai Province, Viet Nam. Image credit: UNICEF/UNI10236/Estey
While recognizing the organization’s contributions to peace and security, the UN chief also highlighted the need to work together to counter potential threats, including the climate crisis.
“Given that four ASEAN Member States rank among the 10 countries in the world most affected by climate change, we look forward to strengthening our ties with ASEAN nations as they take urgent action to strengthen adaptation and build resilience to disasters,” he said.
Preventive diplomacy efforts ASEAN was established in 1967 and represents nearly 650 million people, more than half of whom are under the age of 30.
Since inception, it has been engaged in preventing disputes within the region, according to Secretary-General, Dato Lim Jock Hoi.
“Cooperation with the UN in further enhancing our capacity to undertake preventive diplomacy measures, such as, for example, through the workshops organized by the UN in conjunction with the ASEAN Regional Forum, which has preventive diplomacy as one of its set key milestones, are beneficial”, he said.
The UN chief pointed to recent ASEAN diplomatic efforts on the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where a reported military crackdown in August 2017 pushed more than 700,000 members of the minority Rohingya community into neighbouring Bangladesh.
“It is essential that international efforts find a solution to the plight of displaced persons and refugees still living in desperate conditions,” he said.
Although Mr. Guterres told ambassadors that the situation on the Korean Peninsula “remains of deep concern”, again, ASEAN has contributed to promoting peace there.
He recalled that Singapore and Hanoi hosted historic meetings between North and South Korea.
With Member States Indonesia and Viet Nam sitting on the Security Council, “we hope that stronger links can be built between ASEAN and the UN to advance diplomatic efforts on the Korean Peninsula”, he added.
Strengthening cooperation for peace Looking ahead, he said the two partners can strengthen cooperation on peacekeeping, including in training and increasing women’s participation in peace processes.
He added that the UN will further boost technical support to ASEAN in counter-terrorism initiatives and preventing violent extremism, among other areas.
“I am deeply convinced of the value of ASEAN-UN cooperation for peace, security and sustainable development”, said Mr. Guterres.
“With the presence of two engaged and dynamic ASEAN members on the Council in 2020, I look forward to our two organizations working increasingly closely together for the future we want and need.”
#FourLoomingThreatsToHumanProgress; #GeopoloticalTensions; #ClimateCrisis; #GlobalMistrust; #DownsidesOfTechnology
New York, Jan 23 (Canadian-Media): The start of the New Year finds the world facing four looming threats to human progress: surging geopolitical tensions, the climate crisis, global mistrust and the downsides of technology, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday, UN news release said.
Antonio Guterres. Image credit: Facebook Page
In a wide-ranging speech to the General Assembly, the UN chief outlined strategies to address what he called the “four horsemen in our midst”, and he urged countries to take advantage of the UN’s 75th anniversary year to secure a peaceful future for all people.
“These four horsemen…can jeopardize every aspect of our shared future”, Mr. Guterres warned.
“That is why commemorating the 75th anniversary with nice speeches won’t do. We must address these four 21st-century challenges with four 21st-century solutions.”
Global tensions mounting For the Secretary-General, global tensions are at their highest level in years, making the risk of fracture real.
Although developments such as the formation of the Constitutional Committee in Syria and the recent Berlin conference on Libya are signs of hope, he stressed that “we have our work cut out for us”.
Mr. Guterres underlined the central role of prevention in UN engagement in the peace and security dimension, and emphasized the need to focus on the root causes of crisis and upheaval.
“We must strengthen our mediation capacity and our tools for sustaining peace, leading to long-term development”, he added.
“We need to create the conditions for effective peace enforcement and counter-terrorism operations by our regional partners, under chapter VII of the Charter and with predictable funding. This is especially true in Africa, from the Sahel to Lake Chad.”
Our planet is burning On climate change, the science is clear, Mr. Guterres stated.
“Rising temperatures continue to melt records. The past decade was the hottest on record. Scientists tell us that ocean temperatures are now rising at the equivalent of five Hiroshima bombs a second. One million species are in near-term danger of extinction. Our planet is burning”, he told ambassadors.
Yet, in the midst of the crisis, some leaders “continue to fiddle”, he said, as evidenced by the outcome of the last UN climate conference, known as COP25, held in Madrid in December.
But the Secretary-General is adamant that the climate battle can be won as people everywhere “get it”, while the overwhelming majority of scientists are clear there is still time to act.
“At the next climate conference - COP26 in Glasgow - governments must deliver the transformational change our world needs and that people demand, with much stronger ambition – ambition on mitigation, ambition on adaptation, and ambition on finance,” he stated.
A call for fair globalization The third horseman—deep and growing global mistrust—can be defeated through fair globalization, boosting economic growth and preventing conflict.
Back in 2015, world leaders adopted an agenda to bring about a more just and fair planet for all. This year, the UN has launched a Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the 2030 deadline.
“Throughout the Decade of Action, we must invest in the eradication of poverty, in social protection, in health and fighting pandemics, in education, energy, water and sanitation, in sustainable transport and infrastructure and in internet access”, said the Secretary-General.
“We must improve governance, tackle illicit financial flows, stamp out corruption and develop effective, common sense and fair taxation systems. We must build economies for the future and ensure decent work for all, especially young people. And we must put a special focus on women and girls because it benefits us all.”
The Secretary-General also encouraged leaders to work to rebuild trust, including through listening to their citizens and harnessing ideas for change and other constructive solutions put forward by youth.
Taming the ‘Wild West of cyberspace’
Bringing light to the dark side of the digital world will require action on several fronts, including in the labour market as automation will displace tens of millions of jobs in the next decade.
The UN chief recommended that education systems be redesigned to address this reality by teaching people how to learn across the course of their entire lives.
“We also must usher in order to the Wild West of cyberspace,” he said.
“Terrorists, white supremacists and others who sow hate are exploiting the internet and social media. Bots are spreading disinformation, fueling polarization and undermining democracies. Next year, cybercrime will cost $6 trillion.”
Mr. Guterres highlighted the UN as the platform to bring together governments, the private sector, civil society and others to counter what he called “digital fragmentation” through global cooperation.
The “alarming possibilities” of artificial intelligence also must be addressed, and he appealed to countries to immediately ban lethal autonomous weapons, also known as killer robots.
“Lethal autonomous weapons - machines with the power to kill on their own, without human judgement and accountability - are bringing us into unacceptable moral and political territory”, he warned.
#UN; ##UNESCO; #Journalists; #EndImpunity; #KeepTruthAlive
New York, Jan 21 (Canadian-Media): Twenty-two journalists were reported killed in the Latin America and Caribbean region in 2019, making it the deadliest part of the world for the press, followed by 15 in Asia-Pacific, and 10 in Arab States, UN reports said.
Journalists at the UN (file). Image credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
The figures come from the Observatory of Killed Journalists database, which is maintained by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It shows that, over the last decade, 894 journalists were murdered, an average of almost 90 per year: journalist killings in 2019 dropped by almost half compared to 2018 (from 99 to 56), but members of the press still face extreme risks, in all regions of the world.
Local coverage more dangerous than war reporting
The UNESCO data shows that targeting local affairs, such as politics, corruption and crime, is more dangerous for journalists than covering war zones. Last year, almost two-thirds of cases occurred in countries not experiencing armed conflict, and the vast majority involved reporters covering their local patch.
In November 2019, on the International Day to End Impunity Against Journalists, UNESCO launched a campaign, #KeepTruthAlive, to draw attention to the dangers faced by journalists close to their homes, highlighting the fact that 93 per cent of those killed worked locally. The campaign featured an interactive map, providing a vivid demonstration of the scale and breadth of the dangers faced by journalists worldwide.
An attempt to silence criticism
In a statement released on Monday, UNESCO declared that attacks on journalists are an attempt to silence critical voices and restrict public access to information.
Aside from the risk of murder, journalists increasingly experience verbal and physical attacks in connection with their work. Over recent years, there has been a marked rise in imprisonment, kidnapping and physical violence, amid widespread rhetoric hostile to the media and journalists.
Women in the media are particular targets, says UNESCO: they are often targets of online harassment, and face threats of gender-based violence.
UNESCO is committed to improving the safety of journalists worldwide and ensure that crimes against them do not go unpunished.
A report published by the agency in November 2019 showed that only 10 per cent of attacks are prosecuted, and less than one in eight cases recorded by UNESCO since 2006 have been resolved.
‘This terrible situation cannot be allowed to continue’, UN chief tells world leaders at major Libya summit
#UN; #DisastrousHumanitarianSituation; #NorthAfricaConflict; #Peace&Security
Berlin (Germany), Jan 19 (Canadian-Media): Speaking at a major, high-level summit on Libya, held in the German capital Berlin on Sunday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres evoked the disastrous humanitarian situation faced by thousands of civilians, as conflict in the North African country grows deeper and more destructive, UN reports said.
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, addresses the Berlin Conference on Libya alongside the UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Credit: Federal Government/Guido Bergmann
As fight continues between forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, which control large tracts of territory in the country, and the government in Tripoli, world leaders attended the International Conference in the hope of finding a political solution.
General Khaftar’s forces have besieged the capital since April, and the fighting has been fuelled by increasing foreign interference. Whilst the government is backed by the UN, The Libyan National Army of General Khaftar has support from Russia and some Middle Eastern States.
The human toll, Mr. Guterres told the assembled delegates, has been severe, with international humanitarian law defied on multiple occasions: “More than 220 schools in Tripoli are closed, depriving 116,000 children of their basic human right to an education. Migrants and refugees, trapped in detention centres near the fighting, have also been affected and continue to suffer in horrendous conditions. This terrible situation cannot be allowed to continue”.
Reiterating his belief that there is no military solution in Libya, the UN chief issued a reminder of the dangerous consequences of a full-blown civil war which, he said, could lead to a “humanitarian nightmare”, and leave the country vulnerable to permanent division. A civil war also risks further destabilizing the entire southern Mediterranean and Sahel region, exacerbating the threats of terrorism, human trafficking, and the smuggling of drugs and weapons.
Mr. Guterres welcomed the recent ceasefire between the two sides, and urged them to “engage in good faith dialogue on political, economic and military issues in a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned inclusive process”, which, he affirmed, will be supported by the UN.
“We will stand with the Libyan people as they work to resolve their differences through discussion and compromise in good faith”, concluded the Secretary-General, “and chart a way to a more peaceful future”.
#UN; #NewCeaseFireInSyria; #SafetyOfSyriansViolaed; #SyrianObservatoryForHumanRights
Syria, Jan 18 (Canadian-Media): Citizens in the nation's northwest, where civilians have been killed and displaced by protracted fighting this week that violated the terms of the truce had failed to be protected by a new cease-fire in Syria, the United Nations' top human rights official said Friday, media reports said.
Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights said efforts to establish "safe corridors" for Syrians trying to escape failed due to the violence, government forces and militias kept fighting after the cease-fire agreement took effect last week.
Smoke rises during fighting in Ras al-Ein town, Syria. The top U.N. human rights official criticized a new cease-fire this week as ineffective. Credit: File Photo by Erdem Sahin/EPA-EFE
Bachelet called for protection of citizens and civilian infrastructure government leaders and de-escalation of fighting in Idlib.
"Our main concern is for the safety of civilians who remain at serious risk," Bachelet said in a statement. "While the pursuit of a cease-fire is, of course, to be encouraged, this agreement ... has yet again failed to protect civilians.
"It is deeply distressing that civilians are still being killed on a daily basis in missile strikes from both the air and ground. Women, men and children simply carrying out everyday activities at home, the workplace, in markets and at schools are being killed and maimed in senseless violence."
Almost two dozen civilians in the Idlib province were killed by the government airstrikes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday and 82 were injured, the Syrian Civil Defense force said.
According to the estimate of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs 235,000 civilians have been displaced in southern Idlib last month, about 140,000 being children.
#UN; #Haiti; #HaitiEarthquakeVictims; #Peace&Security; #CeremonyOfRemembrance
Haiti, Jan 17 (Canadian-Media): More than 200,000 Haitians who perished in the devastating earthquake which struck the island nation ten years ago, were honoured in a solemn ceremony of remembrance at UN Headquarters in New York on Friday, along with 102 staffers who died – the single greatest loss of life in the Organization’s history, UN reports said.
Haitians had been starting a new year with optimism, recalled UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the wreath-laying, but “in a few seconds, their hopes turned to dust.”
“I will never forget the shock and sadness across the world and throughout the United Nations as the scale of the tragedy became clear”, he added.
António Guterres. Image credit: Facebook page
Although 12 January 2010, was one of the darkest days in its history, Haiti “drew on the courage and determination of its people and the assistance of its many friends. Roads were cleared, homes were rebuilt, schools were reopened, businesses got back to work,” Mr. Guterres noted.
The UN chief took a moment in his speech to reflect on several aspects of the UN’s effort in Haiti that had caused more harm than good, recalling the cholera epidemic which began in 2010, widely believed to have been imported by peacekeepers.
“Among the many challenges, the United Nations deeply regrets the loss of life and suffering caused by the cholera epidemic. I welcome the significant progress that has been made towards eliminating the disease. We are also committed to resolving pending cases of sexual exploitation and abuse”, said Mr. Guterres.
He also noted the lack of progress in terms of Haiti’s economic, political and social development, with a crisis of leadership in recent months throwing the nation into turmoil: “Today, insecurity and slow economic growth are contributing to rising social tensions and a deteriorating humanitarian situation.
I urge Haitians to resolve their differences through dialogue and to resist any escalation that could reverse the gains of the past decade.”
He said the new Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) which replaced the 15-year peacekeeping operation. and the 19 agencies, funds and programmes present in the country, “will continue to work in partnership with the Haitian people on their path to recovery and prosperity.”
A memorial of the Haiti 2010 Earthquake is being constructed at the UN Headquarters with pieces of rubble from the Christopher Hotel in Port-au-Prince buried in the foundation of the memorial site. Image credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten
UN lives lost, from 30 nations
Before the ceremony, the UN chief visited what he described as “the moving new memorial”, entitled, ‘A Breath’, which now sits within Headquarters in midtown Manhattan, having arrived from Port-au-Prince.
"I thank the sculptor, Davide Dormino, and everyone who helped to transport it. I was particularly impressed by the inclusion of rubble from the Hotel Christopher, where so many of our colleagues perished."
He said the UN staff who died had been in Haiti “to help build stability and prosperity and consolidate peace and security, with international, national and local partners. Among them were policy advisers, political officers, humanitarians, development specialists, security officers, soldiers, lawyers, drivers and doctors.
When the quake hit, many United Nations personnel took part in search and rescue operations and carried injured people into the United Nations compound. Some had the heartbreaking duty of accompanying the body of a colleague home to their loved ones, for burial or cremation.”
The tragedy brought Haiti and the UN together, he said, “and we will never forget.”
The best way to honour the memory of the dead would be by “working alongside the people and Government of Haiti, and with the country’s friends and supporters throughout the international community.
Together, we will safeguard Haiti’s future and build lives of peace, prosperity and dignity for all Haitians,” he concluded.
Keep ‘flame of solidarity’ alive
Speaking on behalf of the Haitian Government, Patrick Saint-Hilaire of the UN Mission, said that ten years on, the signs of the earthquake were “still evident everywhere”.
He said the courageous people of Haiti were still “paying deeply” for the “adversity that has befallen Haiti” since then.
Thanking the UN and all who rallied around Haiti after the disaster in solidarity, he said that now, “it is up to us Haitians, first and foremost, to take responsibility for our current challenges and to take the necessary initiative to improve the state of our nation. Today, however, more than ever, our country needs to continue to forge solidarity, national and international, concrete and consistent with the aspirations of the Haitian people.”
There is “much work left to be done” he said, adding that as the mark the 10th anniversary, it is “not too late to take up the challenge of the complete reconstruction of Haiti.”
Remarks were also made by the President of the UN Staff Union, Patricia Nemeth, with some family members of those who perished attending the ceremony. Ambassadors from the 30 Member States who lost UN personnel in the tragedy were invited to lay flowers in front of the flag.
Afterwards, some participants and guests walked over to the memorial site, which initially lay on the grounds of peacekeeping mission MINUSTAH's headquarters in Port au Prince.
Listen here to former top UN communications official and earthquake survivor, Michèle Montas, on how the tragedy has affected her nation, and the world body:
#UN; #UNICEF; #WarTornLibya; #ChildrenSafety; #ChildrenRights; #Peace&Security; #HumanitarianAid
Libya (North Africa), Jan 17 (Canadian-Media): The world should not accept the “dire and untenable” situation facing children in war torn Libya the head of the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said on Friday, UN reports said.
A child runs through the debris and wreckage in downtown Benghazi, Libya.
Image credit: © UNICEF/Giovanni Diffidenti
“Children in Libya, including refugee and migrant children, continue to suffer grievously amidst the violence and chaos unleashed by the country’s longstanding civil war”, Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.
Since last April, when renewed hostilities broke out on the outskirts of the capital Tripoli, and western Libya, conditions for thousands of children and civilians deteriorated, with indiscriminate attacks in populated areas that have caused hundreds of deaths.
UNICEF has received reports of children being maimed, killed and also recruited to fight, said Ms. Fore.
Since the fall of President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been in the throes of ongoing instability and economic collapse, despite its large oil reserves.
Thousands have been killed in fighting between factions of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) commanded by Khalifa Haftar, based in the east, and the UN-recognized government in Tripoli, located in the west.
The UN Secretary-General will be at a major international summit due to take place in the German capital this coming Sunday, which both the Prime Minister of the UN-recognized Government and commander Haftar are due to attend, in the hope of establishing a permanent ceasefire.
Meanwhile, over the last eight months, more than 150,000 people – 90,000 of whom are children – have been forced to flee their homes and are now internally displaced.
Ms. Fore also flagged that under attack was the essential “infrastructure on which children depend for their wellbeing and survival”.
“Nearly 30 health facilities have been damaged in the fighting, forcing 13 to close”, she lamented, adding that attacks against schools and the threat of violence have led to closures and left almost 200,000 children out of the classroom.
Moreover, water systems have been attacked and the waste management system has virtually collapsed, greatly increasing the risk of waterborne diseases including cholera.
“The 60,000 refugee and migrant children currently in urban areas are also terribly vulnerable, especially the 15,000 who are unaccompanied and those being held in detention centres”, she continued. “These children already had limited access to protection and essential services, so the intensifying conflict has only amplified the risks that they face”.
UNICEF and its partners on the ground are supporting the children and families with access to healthcare and nutrition, protection, education, water and sanitation.
Reach a comprehensive and durable peace agreement for the sake of each and every child in Libya – UNICEF chief
“We are also reaching refugee and migrant children with assistance, including those held in detention centres”, she elaborated. “Sadly, attacks against the civilian population and infrastructure, as well as against humanitarian and healthcare personnel are seeking to undermine humanitarian efforts”.
Ms. Fore called on all parties to the conflict and those who have influence over them to protect children, end the recruitment and use of children, cease attacks against civilian infrastructure, and allow for “safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to children and people in need”.
“We also call on Libyan authorities to end the detention of migrant and refugee children and to actively pursue safe and dignified alternatives to detention”, said the UNICEF chief.
Ahead of the peace summit in Berlin, this Sunday, Ms. Fore also urged the conflict parties and those with influence over them to “urgently reach a comprehensive and durable peace agreement for the sake of each and every child in Libya.”
#UN; #UNPeace; #Peace&Security; G5SahelCountries
New York, Jan 16 (Canadian-Media): Implementation of the 2015 peace agreement in Mali provides the only pathway for stabilization there, the head of UN peacekeeping told the Security Council on Wednesday, UN reports said.
UN peacekeepers return to their helicopter following a mission to the village of Sobane Da in the Mopti region of Mali. Image credit: MINUSMA/Harandane Dicko
Jean-Pierre Lacroix updated ambassadors on developments in the West African country, where a UN operation, known by the French acronym MINUSMA, supports political processes and restoration of state authority against a backdrop of insecurity, intercommunal violence and increasing displacement.
MINUSMA was established following fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels in January 2012, leading to the occupation of northern Mali by radical Islamists.
The authorities and two separate armed group coalitions signed the peace deal three years later.
“The rapid and thorough implementation of the peace agreement remains the only viable path for the stabilization of Mali. It provides the framework for the required political and institutional reforms to restore and decentralize State authority, to build a Malian state that reflects the diversity and interests of all its citizens”, said Mr. Lacroix.
“The peace agreement also provides for mechanisms to address the grievances of those Malians who feel excluded from the country’s political life and economic development and who see little hope for their future.”
National dialogue concludes
Despite slow starts and disagreements, both between and among the sides, the UN peacekeeping chief reported that progress has been achieved in Mali, such as the holding of an inclusive national dialogue which concluded in December.
Foreign Minister Tiébilé Dramé characterized it as a milestone for his country.
“The national dialogue was an important point in the life of the nation: a point at which a true national consensus was forged with lively solidarity,” he said, speaking via videoconference.
“For his part, the President of Mali has taken the commitment of doing everything in his power to ensure that the resolutions and recommendations of the national dialogue, pursuant to current law, be implemented.”
Another step forward has been the disarming and subsequent integration of former combatants into the national defence and security forces.
Mr. Lacroix said redeploying reconstituted army units to the north remains an “urgent priority”, with a first battalion expected in the region by the end of the month: an important step towards restoring state authority nation-wide.
At the same time, the UN has increased its presence and activity in Mopti, located in central Mali, which has contributed to de-escalating intercommunal violence and massacres.
However, this has meant diverting assets from the north, leading to what Mr. Lacroix described as “dangerous gaps” in some areas. To address the challenge, MINUSMA will make some adaptations within its authorized troop strength.
“The plan provides for the establishment of a Mobile Task Force, which will enhance the Mission’s ability to implement its mandate and protect civilians. It will make MINUSMA more agile, flexible and mobile with tailored units and enhanced capabilities, most importantly additional air mobility”, he explained, before calling on ambassadors for their support.
Support for the Sahel
Mr. Lacroix began his briefing by addressing the “alarming” deteriorating security situation not only in Mali but in the wider Sahel.
Just last week alone, 89 soldiers from Niger were killed and 18 peacekeepers injured in two separate attacks. There has also been a rise in the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against UN convoys.
“Terrorism continues to feed into inter-communal violence in the centre of Mali,” he reported. “There are now more displaced persons suffering from hunger in the Mopti region than there were in the past.”
The United Nations supports the G5 Sahel regional body, which brings together Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, all of which are experiencing rising extremist violence.
French ambassador Nicolas de Rivière told the Council that following a recent summit held in his country, the G5 and its international partners have established a coalition for the Sahel.
“The aim is to step up our support for countries of the G5 Sahel, but also beyond that to incentivize them to engage in reform: of course, security reform, but also governance and human rights reform,” he said. “With these conditions being met, we can eradicate terrorism.”
Columbia (New York), Jan 13 (Canadian-Media): Colombia has continued to make “significant strides in its peace process”, the top UN envoy in the country told the Security Council on Monday, UN reports said.
The Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu (centre), greets an ex-combatant on a field mission to Antioquia in the South American country. Credit: UN Verification Mission in Colombia
Special Representative Carlos Ruiz Massieu, who also heads the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, pointed out that even in the face of “serious challenges” - particularly in terms of security for conflict-affected communities - greater participation and improved security in last October’s regional elections “demonstrated the positive impact of the peace process on Colombian democracy”.
In November 2016, the Secretary-General welcomed the signing of an historic UN-backed peace agreement between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP rebels, ending an armed conflict that had been ongoing since 1964.
The UN envoy hailed the “invaluable work” of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition, spelling out that “thousands of former combatants who only a few years ago were armed with weapons of war continue to forge new lives through the opportunities provided by peace, despite many difficulties and security risks”.
He gave credit for these and other achievements to efforts made by the Colombian Government; former FARC-EP rebels; the international community; and social leaders, public officials and many others working every day to consolidate peace.
“I can’t think of a more encouraging example to begin the new year than the image of former adversaries working with a local community to build a bridge together”, the Mission head told the Council.
Introducing “a welcome development” at the end of December, he updated the Chamber that a “reintegration roadmap” had been adopted to establish a framework for a long-term reintegration process.
“Consultations between the Government, particularly the Agency for Reintegration and Normalization, and FARC were key to the finalization of this document, and the Mission is looking forward to supporting the parties in its implementation”, he said.
He added however, that more than 9,000 former combatants living in more remote areas - facing high security risks and obstacles in accessing basic services, education, employment and opportunities - still needed “specific attention” as do over 2,000 children of former combatants.
The UN envoy welcomed 128 “additional accreditations for former combatants” since the Secretary-General’s September report as “a positive first step” and called on the relevant actors to “intensify efforts to resolve the situation of former FARC members whose accreditation remains pending”.
‘Profoundly’ worrying developments
He informed the Chamber that pervasive violence in conflict-affected areas continues to threaten peace and pointed to several “profoundly worrying developments” by outlawed armed groups, namely attacks against community leaders and former combatants.
Peace will not be fully achieved if the brave voices of social leaders continue to be silenced through violence –UN Special Representative
“Peace will not be fully achieved if the brave voices of social leaders continue to be silenced through violence and if former combatants who laid down their weapons and are committed to their reintegration continue to be killed”, stressed the Special Representative.
He maintained that these “hard-won gains must be protected, preserved and built upon” by comprehensively implementing the Peace Agreement.
Citing Cauca, Chocó and Nariño as “epicentres” of violence, he flagged that “rural areas affected by a limited State presence and persistent poverty, and where illegal armed groups and criminal structures continue victimizing populations, especially ethnic communities, to control illicit economies” continued to be a chronic issue.
Lauding the Peace Agreement’s creation of a crop substitution programme to support families transitioning away from coca cultivation, for cocaine manufacturing, he said it was just one of its “far-sighted provisions” to address “a multitude of challenges that have afflicted Colombia for decades”.
“We remain convinced that the full implementation of the Peace Agreement, in all its interconnected aspects, provides the best possible hope for Colombia to lay the foundations for a more peaceful and prosperous future”, he concluded, underscoring that the Security Council’s support “will remain key”.
#UNCharter; #WorldInTurmoil; #Peace&Security; #FoundationOfInternationalRelations; #ThreatstOnMultilateralism
New York, Jan 09 (Canadian-Media): Amid an era of rising geopolitical tensions and declining trust between nations, the United Nations Secretary-General has encouraged countries to “come home” to a defining document of the international community: the UN Charter, UN reports said.
The UN Charter being signed by a delegation at a ceremony held at the Veterans’ War Memorial Building on 26 June 1945. Credit: UN Photo/Yould
António Guterres was addressing the Security Council which on Thursday held a debate on upholding the founding treaty of the UN, nearly 75 years since its adoption.
“At this time when global fault-lines risk exploding, we must return to fundamental principles; we must return to the framework that has kept us together; we must come home to the UN Charter”, he said.
Foundation of international relations
Signed in June 1945, the UN Charter promised to save future generations from the devastation of war.
It reaffirmed the equal rights of all people, respect for national self-determination, the need for peaceful settlement of disputes, and contained clear rules governing the use of force.
These values and objectives endure today, the Secretary-General observed.
“These principles are not favours or concessions. They are the foundation of international relations. They are core to peace and international law. They have saved lives, advanced economic and social progress and, crucially, avoided a descent into another world war,” he said.
“But when these principles have been flouted, put aside or applied selectively, the result has been catastrophic: conflict, chaos, death, disillusion and mistrust. Our shared challenge is to do far better in upholding the Charter’s values and fulfilling its promise to succeeding generations.”
Threats to multilateralism
Although the world is facing the “existential threats” of nuclear proliferation and the climate crisis, collective global response is being undermined by nationalism and populism, said former Irish President Mary Robinson.
She was speaking as chair of The Elders, an independent group of prominent global citizens that has been working for peace, justice and human rights worldwide since 2007.
The Elders issued a statement last month underlining that effective multilateralism—basically, getting countries to cooperate—is in the national interest of all world leaders.
Ms. Robinson stated that this collaborative approach is at the heart of the UN Charter and is especially critical now due to the escalating situation in the Middle East.
“Indeed, it is my understanding that Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was due to address this chamber today. He was going to speak about the role of the UN Charter in supporting international peace and security today but has been prevented from doing so because tensions have arisen between Iran and the United States”, she said.
“This is highly regrettable. It is precisely in times such as these that we need to hear the voices of all concerned.”
Never take peace for granted
The Secretary-General issued a special message to the 15 ambassadors in the Security Council.
As members of the chamber, they have a vital responsibility for upholding the UN Charter, particularly in preventing and addressing conflict.
Present and past disagreements must not be an obstacle to action to address current threats, he stated.
“War is never inevitable; it is a matter of choice – and often it is the product of easy miscalculations,” he stated. “And peace, too, is never inevitable; it is the product of hard work and we must never take it for granted.”