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This Week in DPPA: 16 - 22 December 2023

A brief roundup of United Nations-related political and peacebuilding events and developments around the world. 

"We are at the end of a tragic year for too many people around the world. No region has been spared violence or conflict. ... But 2023 also brought evidence of what is possible when there is cooperation, when we choose dialogue, when we are moved by solidarity." — Rosemary A. DiCarlo

Read our 2023 Year in Review here

Security Council demands parties allow "immediate, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance” to Gaza

On 22 December, the Security Council adopted a resolution on the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, with 13 votes in favour, none against and two abstentions. The Council reiterated its demand that “all parties to the conflict comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law.” It further demanded that the parties “allow, facilitate and enable the immediate, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale directly to the Palestinian civilian population throughout the Gaza Strip.” It went on to demand that “the parties to the conflict allow and facilitate the use of all available routes to and throughout the entire Gaza Strip, including border crossings...for the provision of humanitarian assistance.” It also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. 

Webcast of the meeting

Diplomatic efforts to restart Iran nuclear deal “at a standstill”, USG DiCarlo tells Council

On 18 December, Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary A. DiCarlo briefed the Council on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). She said that diplomatic efforts to restart the Iran nuclear deal remain “at a standstill”, despite repeated calls on all parties to renew dialogue aimed at a return to the full and effective implementation of the Plan and resolution. Nonetheless, she added, “the Secretary-General still considers that the JCPOA represents the best available option to ensure that the Iranian nuclear programme remains exclusively peaceful.” She said it was essential for Iran to reverse the steps taken since the deal fell apart “that are not consistent with its nuclear related commitments under the Plan and which it has pledged are reversible.”

Full remarks

2023 “another tragic year” for Syrian civilians, Special Envoy tells Council

On 21 December, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Geir O. Pedersen briefed the Security Council on the situation in the country. He underlined the need to refocus on the political process in 2024, stressing that 2023 had been “another tragic year” for Syrian civilians, who were killed, injured, displaced, detained and abducted in alarming numbers. Violence is spiraling throughout Syria in a conflict that “cannot be left unattended”, he said. The Special Envoy noted that his good offices are ongoing with Syrian parties, regional players and international stakeholders. “We need instead to see sustained de-escalation in and on Syria, towards a nationwide ceasefire, and a cooperative approach to countering Security Council-listed terrorist groups,” he said.

Full remarks

Special Representative Otunbayeva warns human rights issues hampering progress in Afghanistan

On 20 December, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Roza Otunbayeva noted that the lack of progress in resolving human rights issues is a key factor behind the current impasse in the country. She said that there must be more direct engagement with the de facto authorities, including in Kabul. “Dialogue does not legitimize,” but it can encourage change, she said. She emphasized that accepting and working to uphold the international norms and standards, as set out in UN treaties that Afghanistan has ratified, will continue to be a non-negotiable condition for a seat at the United Nations.

Full remarks

Wennesland: 2023 “one of the deadliest” years in history of Middle East conflict

On 19 December, Special Coordinator of the Secretary-General for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland told Council members that “2023 ends as one of the deadliest in the history of this conflict, with the situation deteriorating on nearly all fronts.” He warned that, amid displacement at an unimaginable scale and active hostilities, the humanitarian response system is on the brink. “I reiterate that security forces must exercise maximum restraint and use lethal force only when it is strictly unavoidable to protect life,” he stressed. The Special Coordinator also underscored the need to enable parties to re-engage on the long-delayed political path to a two-State solution, noting that UN’s efforts to support this objective have already begun through active consultations in the region.

Full remarks

"It is imperative to deescalate the situation on the Korean Peninsula", ASG Khiari tells Council

Following the fifth launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), on 18 December, the Security Council heard a briefing from Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari, who urged Pyongyang to embrace diplomacy as the way forward, noting that at this “particularly difficult moment in securing global peace and security, it is imperative to deescalate the situation on the Korean Peninsula." 

Full remarks

UNSMIL Head Bathily urges political settlement for progress in Libya's electoral process 

Abdoulaye Bathily, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), told the Security Council on 18 December that he had invited the leaders of five Libyan institutions to settle on issues preventing progress in the electoral process. He lamented that some Libyan leaders continue to not show a decisive commitment to end the long-standing stalemate that has caused so much suffering for the ordinary Libyans. He added that “the remaining politically contested issues can only be overcome through a political settlement among the main Libyan institutional stakeholders.”

Full remarks

Peacebuilding Commission advocates for stronger collaboration with African Union

On 19 December, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) convened an Ambassadorial-level meeting on the PBC Chair's visit to the African Union Commission (AUC) and Mozambique. The African Union representative and Member States emphasized the need to strengthen collaboration between the African Union and the PBC, focusing on concrete actions in support of prevention, peacebuilding and sustaining peace in Africa. They also highlighted the importance of enhancing partnerships with regional organizations and financial institutions. Furthermore, Member States commended the Chair’s mission to Mozambique and welcomed the country’s progress in peacebuilding and peace maintenance.

Fifth Committee adopts resolution to strengthen SG’s Peacebuilding Fund

The General Assembly's Fifth Committee adopted a landmark resolution on 22 December, agreeing on an annual contribution of $50 million over the next five years to bolster the Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund. Funding will commence in 2025, integrated into existing mechanisms and supplemented by insights from the Peacebuilding Commission and the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group. The decision also marks the achievement of a significant milestone outlined in the General Assembly resolution 76/305 on peacebuilding financing. Furthermore, improved financing for peace is a key objective of the Secretary-General's New Agenda for Peace. 

ASG Spehar highlights importance of peacebuilding and conflict prevention at Global Refugee Forum

Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) for Peacebuilding Support Elizabeth Spehar represented DPPA at the second Global Refugee Forum (GRF) in Geneva held on 13-15 December. Moderating a High-Level panel on peacebuilding and conflict prevention, ASG Spehar noted that conflict remains one of the main drivers of forced displacement and often impedes safe returns. She also noted that the lack of durable solutions for the forcibly displaced could fuel tensions in host communities, stressing that inclusive approaches are needed to address the root causes of conflict and displacement. The GRF mobilized $2.2 billion in financial pledges from donors, $250 million from the private sector, and multi-stakeholder political commitments. DPPA pledged to strengthen the systematic inclusion of forcibly displaced persons in its work at all levels.  

Special Envoy Grundberg meets with senior officials to discuss resumption of Yemeni-owned political process

On 19 December in Riyadh, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Hans Grundberg met with President of the Presidential Leadership Council Rashad Al Alimi and Vice President Uthman Mujalli. They discussed measures to improve living conditions in Yemen, a sustainable ceasefire, and the resumption of a Yemeni-owned political process under UN auspices. The Special Envoy also met with the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Mohamed Al Jaber, other senior Saudi officials and the UAE Ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al Zaabi, to whom he expressed his appreciation for the strong regional support to the UN’s mediation efforts. On 20 December, the Special Envoy concluded a visit to Muscat, Oman, where he met with senior Omani officials. He also met with the Ansar Allah's Chief Negotiator, Mohamed Abdel Salam. 

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Youth-led initiative shapes Sarajevo's future, addressing safety concerns

Around 2,000 young people from different communities in Sarajevo have taken a central and pivotal role in helping to decide public priorities for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital. Over the past six months, youth leaders, in collaboration with 50 experts and research institutes, have worked on identifying youth concerns and aspirations for inclusions in the Sarajevo Canton Youth Strategy for 2024-2028. Young people’s primary concerns relate to safety and security, echoing state-wide findings from 2021 that over 40 percent of young people fear new ethnic tensions. To ensure the strategy becomes a firm governmental commitment, Sarajevo Canton and the Ministry of Science, Higher Education and Youth have committed to developing a costed action plan, ensuring funding and institutional tools needed to translate these solutions into a reality. 

Special Coordinator Wronecka discusses Lebanon’s peace and stability

This week, Special Coordinator of the Secretary-General for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka held a round of meetings with Lebanese stakeholders on safeguarding Lebanon’s peace and stability during this period of regional turbulence and finding a way to steer the country towards a path of recovery. The Special Coordinator discussed with former Director of General Security Abbas Ibrahim the need for de-escalation along the Blue Line with Israel and the implementation of Resolution 1701. With MP Gebran Bassil, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, and with MP Fuad Makhzoumi, discussions focused on the impact of the prolonged presidential vacuum and the importance of reinforcing Lebanon’s state institutions. The Special Coordinator also explored with legal expert Antoine Sfeir the governance and constitutional landscape in light of recent developments.

Special Representative Imnadze visits Kazakhstan Peace Operations Centre

On 19 December, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) Kaha Imnadze visited Kazakhstan Peace Operations Centre (KAZCENT) in Almaty and had a meeting with the Head of the Centre, Commandant Baurzhan Nigmetullin. Discussions focused on possible cooperation between UNRCCA and KazCent in the areas of conflict prevention, stabilization and mediation.

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Former combatants embark on new chapter in reintegration journey in San Juan de Arama

On 16 December, in the department of Meta, the UN Verification Mission in Colombia accompanied 200 former combatants who left the Villa Olímpica in Granada to start a new stage in the new premises granted to them by the Colombian government. The former combatants left six months ago from the former TATR of Vista Hermosa for security reasons. San Juan de Arama is the municipality where Vista Hermosa's former combatants and their families will continue their reintegration. Integral reintegration with security and sustainability is essential to consolidate peace in the territory.

UN Verification Mission Commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Kankuama Indigenous Organisation 

On 20-21 December, in the village of Atanquez, in Valledupar, department of Cesar, the Kankuamo peoples commemorated 30 years of the Kankuama Indigenous Organisation, with the presence of their Mamos, the indigenous guard and their traditional authorities. The UN Verification Mission in Colombia joined the commemoration, donating 13 computers for children’s education in the territories of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.


Special Representative Hennis-Plasschaert discusses political and security situation in Iraq

On 16 December, Special Representative and Head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert met the President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, and the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Masrour Barzani. They discussed the current political and security situation in Iraq, with a primary focus on Erbil-Baghdad relations.

On 21 December, the Special Representative met with the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani. They discussed the general situation in view of the significant milestone achieved by the governorate council elections, with the SRSG reiterating UN Iraq’s support to Iraqis at all levels.  

Iraq holds Provincial Council elections

On 18 December, Iraq held Provincial Council Elections. In accordance with UNAMI's 2023 mandate, the Mission advises and assists the work of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) of Iraq. UNAMI Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance Claudio Cordone visited a polling station in Mosul, Ninewa Governorate, in the country’s north on Election Day. Deputy Special Representative/Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Ghulam Mohammed Isaczai also visited several polling stations on Election Day in Basra, Basra Governorate. After the preliminary results were announced, UNAMI wrote in a post on X that “Yesterday's Governorate Council elections mark another important milestone. With Iraq well positioned to continue on its path towards stability and sustainable development, #UNIraq looks forward to further cooperation with Iraqis at all levels”.  

UNAMI DSRSG Cordone signs condolence book at Embassy of Kuwait 

On 19 December, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance Claudio Cordone signed the condolences book at the Embassy of the State of Kuwait in Baghdad for the passing of Emir Shaykh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. 

UNAMI celebrates World Arabic Language Day

Arabic is spoken by more than 400 million people worldwide. Rich in vocabulary and its descriptive style and its artful calligraphy, the language was celebrated on World Arabic Language Day by UNAMI staff members illustrating the varying dialects and interpretations derived from Classical and Colloquial Arabic. 

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UNAMI Human Rights Office holds high-level meeting on combating domestic violence

Following seven consultative workshops with key stakeholders in Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah governorates throughout 2022 and 2023, UNAMI Human Rights Office, in collaboration with the High Council for Women and Development, held a high-level meeting on 19 December that aimed to create a coordination mechanism for Kurdistan Regional Government stakeholders in the fight against domestic violence. Representatives from the Kurdistan Ministry of Interior, the judiciary, the public prosecution office, the police as well as the Directorate of Combating Violence against Women also participated. The workshops aimed to create a coordination mechanism to deliver comprehensive and coordinated support services, empower survivors, and hold perpetrators accountable.