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This Week in DPPA: 17 - 23 February 2024

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

Two years since the Russian invasion, "the war in Ukraine remains an open wound at the heart of Europe," Secretary-General tells Security Council

On 23 February, the Security Council met to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Secretary-General António Guterres said that the Russian Federation's full-scale invasion violated both the United Nations Charter and international law. "Two years on—and a decade since Russia's attempted illegal annexation of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol—the war in Ukraine remains an open wound at the heart of Europe," he said. He underlined that the people of Ukraine were suffering appallingly because of the war, with over ten and a half thousand civilians deaths, as well as the damage and destruction of hospitals, schools, health facilities and civilian infrastructure. Over fourteen and a half million people inside the country were in need of humanitarian assistance, he said, including lifesaving food, water, healthcare and shelter. "That must change," he stressed, and "attacks against humanitarians, and civilian infrastructure, must stop."

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SRSG Laing stresses importance of "collective support" for progress in Somalia

On 19 February, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Catriona Laing, briefed the Security Council the situation in that country. “Through our collective support, Somalia is demonstrating that a country can emerge from prolonged conflict to one that delivers for its people and acts as a force for good in the region,” Laing said. On the political front, she said that the 27 May 2023 National Consultative Council proposals on the proposed new electoral model continued to be debated. While there was broad public support for the transition to one-person, one-vote elections, the proposed timelines were too ambitious, she said, noting that the UN is working with the Ministry of Interior Federal Affairs and Reconciliation to develop a realistic plan. She went on to welcome Parliament’s recent approval of the procedural rules for constitutional changes, and stressed that “without an agreed constitution, Somalia remains vulnerable to perennial crises with no agreed rules of the game to enable resolution."

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Special Coordinator Wennesland stresses urgent need for humanitarian ceasefire, release of hostages

On 22 February, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, told the Council that after almost 140 days of war, there was no end in sight for those impacted by the horrors unleashed on 7 October, nor for the people in Gaza. Recalling his recent visit there, he said that “what I saw was shocking and unsustainable." He went on to underscore his concern over a possible full-scale Israeli military operation in the densely populated Rafah area, where some 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering near the only point of entry for goods. “I cannot stress enough how urgently we need a deal that will bring about a humanitarian ceasefire and the release of hostages,” he stressed, urging all concerned — including Israeli authorities — to address the key impediments to the UN’s humanitarian response on the ground. 

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UN Special Coordinator Wronecka meets with Israeli and Lebanese officials

Ahead of her briefing to the Security Council in March on the implementation of Resolution 1701, Special Coordinator of the Secretary-General for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka met with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv and with Lebanese officials in Beirut (including Caretaker Foreign Minister of Lebanon, Abdallah Bou Habib, pictured left). In all her meetings, the Special Coordinator underlined the importance of de-escalation across the Blue Line, a return to a cessation of hostilities and the full implementation of Resolution 1701 to restore stability on both sides of the border. 

SRSG Hennis-Plasschaert meets with senior Iraqi leaders, discusses political developments

On 20 February, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, met in Baghdad with National Security Adviser Qassim Al-Araji. They discussed the current political and security developments in the country and the region.

On 22 February, SRSG Hennis-Plasschaert met in Baghdad with former Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament and Head of the Taqaddam Party, Muhammad Al-Halbousi. They discussed the current political developments in the country.


UNAMI meets with Kurdistan Regional Government on election issues

On 20 February, the UNAMI Electoral team, led by the Principal Electoral Adviser, together with the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), participated in a meeting with the Kurdistan Region Government (KRG) Presidency Office in Erbil during which the electoral operational timeline and other aspects of holding Kurdistan parliamentary elections were discussed.

DSRSG Isaczai visits Ashti IDP camp in Sulaymaniyah

During a visit to Ashti IDP Camp in Sulaymaniyah, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG)/Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ghulam Isaczai, interacted with camp residents, teachers and camp management on the Council of Minister’s decision to resolve the internally displaced persons file in Iraq.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Peacebuilding Committee holds inaugural session

The inaugural session of the Peacebuilding Committee in Bosnia and Herzegovina, chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmedin Konaković and the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina Ingrid Macdonald, was held in Sarajevo on 19 February. The Committee will guide the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund in Bosnia and Herzegovina, promoting broader coherence across reconciliation efforts, enhancing women's participation in decision-making, empowering young peacebuilders, and fostering social cohesion in local communities. This work will be done in collaboration with various institutions and civil society organizations across the country. The Committee members currently include the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations, ministers, high-level multilateral representatives, including the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the OSCE and Council of European in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and bilateral representatives.  

SRSG Imnadze visits senior officials in the Kyrgyz Republic

On 22 February, SRSG Kaha Imnadze visited the Kyrgyz Republic to meet with Vice-Speaker of Parliament Jamilya Isayeva, and First Deputy Foreign Minister Asein Isaev. He also met with representatives of the diplomatic community. The sides exchanged views on developments in the region and underlined continued positive trends in regional cooperation. The Kyrgyz counterparts welcomed The United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) activities to address transboundary water challenges and to reinforce regional counter-terrorism efforts. Particular attention was paid to the plans under the Women Leaders’ Caucus initiative, which is currently chaired by the Kyrgyz Republic, to involve more women in preventive diplomacy.

SRSG Kaha Imnadze visits Kazakhstan, meets with senior officials

This week, SRSG Imnadze visited Kazakhstan. During the visit, the SRSG held meetings with Murat Nurtleu, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dania Espaeva, Deputy Chairperson of the Majilis (lower house of the Parliament), and Yerkin Tukumov, Director of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies, as well as members of the diplomatic community. The sides discussed plans and joint activities to be implemented during 2024, taking into consideration the current Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and other regional platforms. Discussions particularly focused on possible efforts in the field of transboundary water management and the role of women in promoting peace and security in the region.  

UN Mission accompanies the "Brigade for Life" in Mandé, Colombia

Between 15 and 19 February, nearly 900 inhabitants of Mandé, in Urrao, Antioquia, among them former combatants and their families, received medical attention for three days during a "Brigade for Life," a peacebuilding initiative supported by the Colombian Air Patrol, ARN Colombia, the mayor's office, the municipality's hospital and the Verification Mission in Colombia. The "Brigade for Life" had seven doctors from the Colombian Air Patrol who carried out more than 900 treatments and delivered medicines and vitamins, a vaccination day and provided therapy for detected malaria cases.

Demonstrations in memory of former combatants assassinated since the signing of the Peace Agreement  

On 20 February, the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia accompanied former combatants and social organizations in Medellín, Bogotá, Pasto and Cali, in memory of the peace signatories and social leaders assassinated since the signing of the Final Peace Agreement. Special Representative of the Secretary-General Carlos Ruiz Massieu stressed that every death of a peace signatory is a tragedy for peace in Colombia. He also reiterated his condemnation of the more than 400 murders perpetrated since the signing of the Peace Agreement.

Next Week

On 27 February, the Security Council will hold a briefing on the Middle East.