New York, 9 August, 2020
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on more than 476 million indigenous people around the world.
Throughout history, indigenous peoples have been decimated by diseases brought from elsewhere, to which they had no immunity.
It is critical for countries to marshal the resources to respond to their needs,...
This Week in DPPA is a brief roundup of political and peacebuilding events and developments at UNHQ and around the world.
Reactions to Beirut explosions
New policy brief
Anniversary of atrocities against Yazidis
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Press Briefing Note on Lebanon by Spokesperson of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
This week's horrific blast in Beirut has brought into sharp focus the need for the international community to step up and help Lebanon and its people at their time of crisis. Only a swift international response and sustained engagement will prevent many more lives being lost.
Four weeks ago, the High Commissioner...
Bogotá, 4 August 2020. Today, at the headquarters of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, the Special Representative and Head of the Mission, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, along with national and international officials, paid tribute to the memory and work of Mario Paciolla, a Mission volunteer who died last 15 July in San Vicente del Caguán, Caquetá.
The ceremony began with a minute of silence. Then, the Special Representative, Ruiz Massieu, remembered Pacciolas's...
In response to questions asked at the noon briefing, the Spokesperson has the following to say:
We are deeply saddened by the death of our colleague in Colombia, Mr. Mario Paciolla, and we reiterate the expressions of condolences that have been extended to his family and the Government of Italy, as well as our gratitude for his service to the Verification Mission and the cause of peace in Colombia.
Nairobi, 4 July 2020 –The Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region has signed an agreement with the Norwegian Government in support of the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the region.Norway and the Office of the Special Envoy have committed to a partnership programme to be implemented between August 2020 and August 2023, with a total budget of NOK...
Education is the key to personal development and the future of societies.
It unlocks opportunities and narrows inequalities.
It is the bedrock of informed, tolerant societies, and a primary driver of sustainable development.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the largest...
On behalf of the United Nations, United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis offered to Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab humanitarian and other assistance in the wake of the tragic catastrophe in Beirut. Newly arrived Deputy UN Special Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Najat Rochdi will coordinate it with the respective authorities.
نيابة عن الامم المتحدة، اعرب المنسق الخاص في...
@OCHA/Charlotte Cans and Giles Clarke
New York, 30 July 2020
This year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons honours the first responders helping to end the crime of human trafficking: law enforcement officers, social workers, healthcare professionals, NGO staff and many others working around the world to protect the vulnerable. Like the frontline heroes saving lives and sustaining our societies in the COVID-19 pandemic,...
New York, 30 July 2020
As in other parts of the world, the health, economic and political impact of COVID-19 has been significant across Southeast Asia — hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.
The pandemic has highlighted deep inequalities, shortfalls in governance and the imperative for a sustainable development pathway.
And it has revealed new...
New York, 28 July 2020
Urban areas are ground zero of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 90 per cent of reported cases.
Cities are bearing the brunt of the crisis – many with strained health systems, inadequate water and sanitation services, and other challenges.
This is especially the case in poorer areas, where the pandemic has exposed...
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I thank the co-organizers for convening this timely debate and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas for chairing this meeting.
Climate change impacts all of us. Record temperatures, unprecedented sea levels and frequent extreme weather events paint a dangerous future for the planet and for humanity. The environment suffers and people suffer. As lives and livelihoods are threatened, resource competition increases and communities are displaced.
The climate emergency is a danger to peace. There is no automatic link between climate change and conflict. But climate change does exacerbate existing risks and creates new ones.
And the consequences vary from region to region.
In the Pacific, the rise in sea levels places pressure on livelihoods, exacerbated by frequent extreme weather events that pose a risk to social cohesion.
In Central Asia, water stress and reduced access to natural resources and energy can contribute to regional tensions.
Across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America, climate change is expected to displace more than 140 million people within their national borders by 2050, with potentially disruptive consequences for regional stability.
In the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, the effects of climate change have deepened grievances and escalated the risk of violent conflict, providing fodder for extremist organizations.
Around the world, fragile or conflict-affected situations are more exposed and less able to cope with the effects of climate change. It is no coincidence that 7 of the 10 countries most vulnerable and least prepared to deal with climate change host a peacekeeping operation or special political mission.
Differences exist between regions, within regions, and within communities. Climate-related security risks impact women, men, girls and boys in different ways. In Sudan, climate change intersects with conflict and a legacy of exclusionary decision-making to compound resource scarcity. As a result, men often need to migrate away from their families in search of alternative livelihoods, leaving women behind in rural areas where they find themselves on the frontlines of both climate change and insecurity.
To cope with climate change, we need to act on multiple fronts. Unquestionably, we need ambitious climate action and a commitment to accelerating the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Peace and security actors also have an essential role to play. The failure to consider the growing impacts of climate change will undermine our efforts at conflict prevention, peacemaking and sustaining peace, and risk trapping vulnerable countries in a vicious cycle of climate disaster and conflict.
In the Lake Chad Basin, insecurity and governance challenges have impeded climate adaptation efforts, affecting livelihoods, social cohesion, and ultimately human security, which Boko Haram has proven adept at exploiting.
Drawing on the evidence before us, on what we are seeing happening globally, I would like to outline some actions we can take, together, to address climate-related security risks more effectively.
First, we need to leverage new technologies and enhance our analytical capacity to translate long-term climate foresight into actionable, near-tearm analysis. The Climate Security Mechanism – a joint iniative by the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, the UN Development Programme and the UN Environment Programme – has developed guidance in this regard and supports innovative approaches in the field.
In Iraq, the United Nations Assistance Mission, supported by the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, is developing an early warning system that combines remote sensing techniques with an analysis of population density and displacement data to anticipate potential tensions over water resources.
Second, our efforts to deliver peace and security must place people at the center and learn from those who experience daily the consequences of climate change on their security. In this regard, I commend the organizers for ensuring a diversity of perspectives in today’s debate. I look forward to hearing from Ms. Coral Pasisi and Colonel Mahamadou Magagi. In our own work, we are also seeking to understand the broadest range of perspectives, such as those of practitioners and grassroots organizations from the Caribbean, the Middle East, Nepal, the Pacific and the Sahel.
Building on the power of women and youth as agents for change, we must better integrate peacebuilding, environmental and gender equality goals. In Chocó, Colombia, an interagency United Nations pilot project is promoting the engagement of women in environmental governance and natural resource management within the context of the implementation of the Final Peace Accord, with positive effects on local-level peacebuilding.
Third, we need to strengthen multi-dimensional partnerships and connect the work of the United Nations, Member States, regional organizations and others in this area.
The Regional Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience Strategy for Areas Affected by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin, led by the African Union and the Lake Chad Basin Commission, demonstrates the potential of inclusive, climate and security-informed approaches and shows a path towards stability.
The UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel and the Economic Community of West African States have established a joint coordination mechanism on climate-related security risks, which inter alia seeks to identify good practices for the prevention of transhumance-related violence in the region.
In the Pacific, the United Nations is continuing its close engagement with the Pacific Islands Forum to support implementation of the Boe Declaration and help strengthen the resilience of States and communities to address the unique challenges faced by atoll nations.
And in Central Asia, the United Nations Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy supports the Green Central Asia Initiative, launched by Germany, to create an environment conducive to regional cooperation on trans-boundary water and climate change.
These tailored, region-specific examples can provide valuable insights and lessons for other partnerships to follow. We are strongly committed to such collaboration.
In recent years we have made considerable progress in our understanding of the linkages between climate change, peace and security. But climate change is relentless and its cascading effects will continue to grow and evolve.
We must remain vigilant and summon the courage to adapt our established approaches to ensure they are fit for a climate-changed world.
And above all, we must translate words into action. As the Secretary-General has emphasized, the pandemic recovery offers an opportunity to strengthen resilience and promote climate justice.
I am encouraged by today’s debate as another important step in the right direction and thank the organizers again for convening this meeting.
Mr. President, Minister,
Thank you for the opportunity to brief you on Syria and my effort to facilitate the political process pursuant to Security Council resolution 2254. I am joining you today from Geneva, where I look forward to reconvening the Constitutional Committee next month.
The issue of detainees, abductees and the missing is one that I have put at the heart of my efforts since I began my tenure. We have regularly met with the families of those detained and missing, whose experiences have made a deep impression on me.
This is a humanitarian and indeed human rights issue that demands sustained and meaningful action, in line with international law. And meaningful action on this file, which touches all Syrian families, could also build significant confidence within society, as well as between the parties and international stakeholders.
My Deputy and I have engaged directly with the parties, and our team continues also to participate in a working group together with Iran, Russia and Turkey, though this has not met now for many months due to COVID-19.
Frankly, progress on this file has been vastly insufficient, to the frustration of many Syrians, inside and outside Syria. So many Syrians remain detained, abducted or missing, and so many families still desperately seek information on the fate of their loved ones.
The lack of progress is a pity because this is a cause that we can all get behind. Let me remind you that, a little over a year ago, this Council unanimously adopted resolution 2474 (2019) on “Missing persons in armed conflict”. It is indeed unfortunate that today in Syria the scale of the problem remains unchanged.
And so today, I want to begin with a loud and clear appeal for the Syrian government and all other Syrian parties to carry out unilateral releases of detainees and abductees, and meaningful actions on missing persons - at a scale that is commensurate with the scope of this tragic issue. Without addressing this issue, true reconciliation, the healing of society’s wounds, credible justice and sustainable peace will remain elusive. Let us make the upcoming Eid al-Adha an occasion that sees more Syrian families welcome their loved ones home.
Of course, the tragedy of detainees, abductees and missing persons represents only a single layer of the humanitarian catastrophe that has engulfed Syria – the greatest of this century.
Syrians are now being hit by yet another tsunami of suffering - economic collapse. Over the last month, Syria’s currency has regained some of its lost value, but still remains significantly depreciated relative to last year. And by almost any measure we see a downward spiral: rampant inflation, rising unemployment, weakened demand, more businesses shutting down, increased food insecurity with families skipping meals, and shortages of medicine.
We also now see a rise in reported cases of COVID-19, exacerbating Syria’s economic malaise and further constraining the humanitarian response. Testing remains extremely limited, particularly in areas outside government control. As of yesterday (22 July), the Syrian Ministry of Health has confirmed 561 cases – a relatively low figure, but still more than double the cases since my last briefing. And the geographical spread of the virus is increasing, penetrating more areas outside of Damascus, including the first 22 cases in north-west Syria, as well as 6 cases in the north-east.
Humanitarian access is ever more imperative. Echoing the Secretary General, I want to “call on all parties to the conflict to ensure humanitarian access to all people in need in accordance with international humanitarian law”. I take note of this Council’s decision to extend the UN cross-border mechanism in northwest Syria via the Bab al-Hawa border crossing for twelve months.
And here let me also re-echo the Secretary General’s appeal from earlier this year, for the waiver of sanctions that can undermine the capacity of the country to ensure access to food, essential health supplies and COVID-19 medical support to respond to the pandemic.
To end Syrians’ suffering we must end the violent conflict, through a nationwide ceasefire, in line with resolution 2254, as well as an effective, targeted, cooperative approach to Security Council-listed terrorist groups in line with international humanitarian law.
There has been some progress towards this goal. In recent months, we have seen relative calm throughout Syria, with no major escalation and front-lines mostly frozen. But we continue to see flares of violence within and across those front-lines, which gives us cause for concern.
South-west Syria remains tense. In late June, we saw reports of clashes followed by further protests, assassinations and other security incidents. The Russian Federation has been working to help contain the situation. And I have been messaging to this effect as well. Meanwhile, underlying geopolitical tensions persist in the south-west. And I note fresh reports of Israeli airstrikes across a broad range of targets in Syria.
In the north-west, the calm brought about by Russian and Turkish efforts continues to largely hold. I note further progress in Russian-Turkish cooperation inside the de-escalation area, including the first joint patrols across the entire M4 route. I also note that the extremist wa-Harid al- Mu’minin operations room, which had launched cross-line attacks against the Syrian Government earlier this year, was forcibly dismantled by listed terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, following sustained clashes between the two groups. Last week, we then saw an attack on a joint patrol near Ariha, injuring Russian and Turkish soldiers. Subsequently, there was a brief uptick in pro-government airstrikes south of the M4 and shelling on north-west Syria as well as airstrikes on al-Bab city near the Turkish border. I hope that Russia and Turkey can help contain the situation and sustain calm across north-west Syria.
North-east Syria remains broadly stable but has seen some concerning incidents: most notably, fatal car bombings around Tell Abiad and Ras al-Ayn; a drone strike resulting in fatalities near the town of Ayn al-Arab; another drone strike near al-Derbassiya and recurring disruptions to the Allouk water station. We appeal to all stakeholders there, local and international, to exercise restraint and uphold existing arrangements that have provided calm throughout this year.
Meanwhile, ISIL’s continuing activity remains a serious concern – in southern, central and eastern Syria - with reported riots among ISIL detainees in al-Hasakeh.
Let me here recall once again that all parties to the conflict remain bound by international humanitarian law, including the rules of distinction, proportionality and precautions in order to avoid civilian harm.
We have now firmed up plans to convene the third session of the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned Constitutional Committee. Earlier this week, I was able to confirm with the Co-Chair nominated by the Syrian Government and the Co-Chair nominated by the Syrian opposition that we will begin in Geneva on 24 August – provided that travel conditions do not change. I was also able to inform Middle Third members of this as well. I have encouraged all to prepare for a productive session on the agenda. And I hope that thereafter we will be able to proceed in subsequent sessions in a regular, business-like and substantive manner.
I hope that the Syrian parties can count on the support of the key international players with influence, in ensuring the success of the upcoming session. In this regard, I appreciated the expressions of support for reconvening and advancing the work of the Constitutional Committee, and for the implementation of resolution 2254, by the Presidents of the Astana guarantor countries, and by the many countries who participated in the Brussels IV Conference.
I also hope that those key international players will work to unlock progress on the broader political process. Only through international dialogue can we begin to address many of the myriad challenges that Syria and Syrians face from humanitarian need, detention, displacement, violence and terror, to economic destitution and the violation of Syria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. We continue to see starkly different views on the nature of these challenges – the debate on sanctions is just one example. There is no sign that this or any of these issues will be resolved by entrenched positioning and rhetoric, in the hope that the other side eventually caves in. Serious and consequential international diplomacy is needed, to bridge significant gaps, including through reciprocal measures.
I believe that this is indeed possible and that common interest exists for such a dialogue. I have been encouraged by continuing dialogue between the Russian Federation and United States and will continue to engage them and all relevant countries on how to build a constructive Syria diplomacy that can support a Syrian-led, Syria-owned political process facilitated by the United Nations. If this path is not taken, all the other paths would lead to further loss and suffering for everyone – inside and outside Syria. This cannot be in anyone’s interest.
That is why, guided by resolution 2254 and with the support of the key international players and this Council, I hope that, step by step, we can chart a path forwards to end the Syrian people’s suffering and allow them to shape their future. That is: the release of those detained and abducted; a nationwide ceasefire to end violent conflict; a safe, calm and neutral environment that enables the safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees; and a final political settlement built around a new constitution and inclusive free and fair elections under UN supervision, one that meets the Syrian people’s legitimate aspirations, that fully restores Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity and economic prosperity.
Thank you, Mr. President.
The CNMC was awarded on 20 July 2020 the Raymond Milefsky Prize by IBRU, Durham University’s Centre for Borders Research (United States). This...
Members of the Security Council,
I brief you today as Palestinians and Israelis are grappling with a complex and potentially destabilizing three-pronged crisis:
An escalating health crisis as both struggle to contain the rapid spike of COVID-19 cases.
A spiraling economic...
New York, 18 July 2020
Each year, on Nelson’s Mandela’s birthday, we pay tribute to an extraordinary global advocate for equality, dignity and solidarity. Madiba was a moral giant of the 20th century, whose timeless legacy continues to guide us today. The theme of Nelson Mandela International Day is “Take action, inspire change”. It highlights the...