Colombia: Need to put the armed conflict on lockdown
Inspector General Fernando Carrillo convened a virtual session on 6 May. "The Table for the Protection of Life" assessed the risk situation facing social leaders in the territories in relation to the confinement ordered to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. In his speech, Special Representative Carlos Ruiz Massieu said that: "Without a doubt, COVID-19 has impacted and will continue to impact the implementation of the Peace Agreement. But it is precisely this context that offers us an opportunity to focus attention on the most essential priorities, such as security: the security of communities, of social leaders, of people participating in programs that support the implementation of the Agreement, including those who participate in voluntary crop substitution programs.” He also reiterated the call for a ceasefire for armed groups: "Colombia needs to put the armed conflicts on lockdown, suspend them and focus together on the real struggle of our lives, privileging life above any other consideration.”
Representatives of social organizations, including Leyner Palacios, social leader of Bojayá; Mayerlis Angarita, of the organization Narrar para Vivir; Patricia Riveros, human rights defender; Yuri Quintero, of the Putumayo Human Rights Network; Juan Carlos Quintero, of the Catatumbo Peasant Association, and Juana Ruíz, of the Mampuján Weavers, assessed the difficult security situation their territories face.
Guinea-Bissau: Mainstreaming gender in COVID response
UNIOGBIS’s Gender Unit has engaged the Women's Network for Peace and Security in the ECOWAS Space (REMPSECAO) to assist municipal authorities in the relocation of part of the Old Downtown Women’s Market to a less central location. This is done to prevent crowding, making it easier to maintain recommended social distancing and hygiene practices. The project entails well-designed and distanced market stalls, queuing place posts, and health education boxes at the entrance and exit of the market run by women and youth volunteers. These are equipped with washing facilities and information materials.
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Peacebuilding: Joint blogpost on COVID-19 in fragile settings
Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN Assistant Secretary-General, and Franck Bousquet, World Bank Senior Director for Fragility, Conflict and Violence jointly wrote a blogpost on COVID-19 in Fragile Settings: Ensuring a Conflict-Sensitive Response. Building on Pathways for Peace, a joint United Nations–World Bank Group study, the blogpost provides principles to guide country-level response efforts in conflict-affected settings: (1) Conflict sensitivity matters as COVID-19 interacts with existing inequalities, grievances, and capacity gaps – and could create openings for peace exemplified in the global ceasefire; (2) the importance of trust and inclusion in the responses; (3) maintaining engagement with communities; (4) the importance of partnerships across humanitarian, development and peace actors. The blog further calls for collective support to countries to build back better.
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Central African Republic: Impact of COVID-19 on upcoming elections
A Peacebuilding Commission Ambassadorial-level meeting was convened on 7 may to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the legislative and presidential elections planned for 2020-2021 in the Central African Republic (CAR). H.E. Mr. Augustin Yangana, Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, presented the Government’s plans for electoral preparations and highlighted resource limitations at the local level as a continued barrier against inclusive and orderly elections. Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, recalled the Secretary-General’s call for global ceasefire and underlined the flexible and important role of the Peacebuilding Fund. Mankeur Ndiaye, Special Representative of UN Secretary-General in Central African Republic and Head of UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reaffirmed the Mission’s commitment to create an environment conducive to peaceful elections and commended the electoral calendar that adheres to the constitutional timelines. The World Bank announced its funding support for electoral and COVID-19-related expenditures, including an emergency social protection package in July, building on strengthened cooperation with the UN and the government. Member States reiterated the need to adhere to the SG’s call for a global ceasefire and the provisions of the peace agreement, including timely, inclusive, secure and credible elections. They also recognized the resource challenges for the elections compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and committed to provide stronger support.
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High-level meeting on the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in Europe
Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo took part in a Security Council Arria-formula meeting on 8 May. The high-level meeting on the 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II in Europe, a signature event of Estonia’s Security Council presidency, brought together nearly 50 foreign ministers. “As we look back on the lessons of the past 75 years, we must find opportunity in this time of crisis, to put aside our differences and strengthen the channels for dialogue and cooperation. We must also exercise the solidarity needed to help the more vulnerable countries respond to the challenges they are now facing, understanding that their security and well-being affects us all. We must also find that community of purpose that existed in the immediate post-war period,” Ms. DiCarlo said in her remarks.
Read her full remarks here
Watch the meeting here
Learn more about Arria-formula meetings here
Women, Peace and Security
Webinar on women’s participation in peace processes
Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas Miroslav Jenča and Syria Envoy Geir O. Pedersen attended a webinar on women’s participation in peace processes during the COVID-19 pandemic on 6 May, hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In his remarks, Assistant Secretary-General Jenča highlighted the positive example of Colombia, where the UN is using digital platforms to continue engagements with women leaders. “If you don't have women at the negotiation table, you will not be able to work out a sustainable peace arrangement," Special Envoy Pedersen said when he talked about the ongoing peace process in Syria.
Watch the webinar here
World Press Freedom Day
World Press Freedom Day was commemorated on 3 May. “In the past two years the work of journalists in Guinea-Bissau has been marked by episodes that injure Press Freedom, based on verbal attacks, insults on social media, intimidation and physical aggression. These factors are compounded by the poor financial conditions of the Media, which translates in a clear dependence of journalists from political and economic power”, Indira Correia Baldé, President of the Bissau-Guinean journalist union SINJOTECS, said in a statement. SINJOTECS is one of the implementing partners of a project that supports the media sector in Guinea-Bissau - “Boosting the media sector for greater peace and stability in Guinea-Bissau” - financed by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, implemented by UNIOGBIS and UNDP.
Read more here
UNSMIL issued a statement on 3 May. “An independent media, free from intimidation and threats, is crucial to laying the foundations of democracy,” Acting Special Representative Stephanie Williams said. “I call on the Libyan authorities and all parties to the conflict to protect journalists and media workers, guarantee the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to seek, receive, and impart information to the public.”
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On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, James Swan, Special Representative and Head of UNSOM, called for Somali journalists to be able to perform their work freely.
“The media have a vital role to play in Somali society, from coverage of its political space to giving a voice to the vulnerable and marginalized. They need to be able to carry out their important work free from violence, harassment, detention, persecution, intimidation and censorship,” Mr. Swan said in a statement.
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In conjunction with the Press Freedoam Day, UNSOM published an interview with Farhia Mohamed Kheyre, founder of Somali Women Journalists (SWJ). “I was born into war and brought up in war. I know how it is to be vulnerable and to yearn for a better life. The conflicts changed the social fabric of Somali society. Vulnerable groups like women continued to be marginalized. I still experience it first-hand as a female journalist. That’s what led me to journalism in the first place – that is, to tell their stories – and now to activism,” she says. “I stand for female journalists’ rights, come what may.”
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“Afghanistan can be justly proud that it has one of the most pluralistic and flourishing media sectors in southeast Asia. It is an achievement all the more striking given where press freedom stood in the country less than a generation ago,” Deborah Lyons, Special Representative and Head of UNAMA, said in a statement on World Press Freedom Day. “The United Nations remains firm in its position that media freedoms must be protected as part of any peace process.”
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"On World Press Freedom Day, we salute journalists on the frontlines in Iraq and beyond. Reliable reporting allows the public to make informed decisions and hold leaders accountable. This is never more important than during times of crisis,” Special Representative and Head of UNAMI Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said in a tweet on 3 May.