Nuclear activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) “remain a cause for serious concern”, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in Vienna on Monday.
Nuclear activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) “remain a cause for serious concern”, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in Vienna on Monday.
Even amid the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic, people everywhere must continue to make peace a priority, the UN Secretary-General said on Monday.
New York, 21 September 2020
The International Day of Peace is devoted to urging warring parties everywhere to lay down their weapons and work for harmony.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world, this call is more important than ever. That is why I appealed for a global ceasefire in March.
Our world faces a common enemy: a deadly...
September 21, 2020
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN’s worldwide consultation reveals a strong call for action on inequalities and climate change, as well as more solidarity
In January 2020, the United Nations launched the global consultation to mark its 75th anniversary. Through surveys and dialogues, it asked people about their hopes and fears for...
New York, 21 September 2020
The ideals of the United Nations – peace, justice, equality and dignity — are beacons to a better world.
But the Organization we celebrate today emerged only after immense suffering.
It took two world wars, millions of deaths and the horrors of the Holocaust for world leaders to commit to international cooperation and the rule of law.
The International Support Group (ISG) for Lebanon takes note of the designation on 31 August of Mr. Mustapha Adib as Prime Minister and the public affirmation by the Lebanese political forces for the swift formation of a mission-based government. Lebanese leaders must act to address Lebanon’s many needs. The ISG therefore urges all Lebanese leaders to act decisively, in a spirit of responsibility and in prioritizing Lebanon’s national interest, and swiftly form an effective and...
Ambassadors, senior UN officials, representatives of global sports organizations, and managers of some of the world’s top athletes met virtually on Friday to underline the role that sport can play in combating violent extremism and radicalization.
While deep distrust persists among warring parties in Syria, a “faint but real ray of hope” emerged with the convening in Geneva of the Constitutional Committee after a nine-month hiatus, the top UN envoy helping chart a path out of the near decade-long conflict, told the Security Council on Friday.
This Week in DPPA is a brief roundup of political and peacebuilding events and developments at UNHQ and around the world.
Afghanistan - Reducing violence is crucial in coping with the humanitarian crisis
Griffiths highlights vital role of civil society in Yemen
Group of Friends meeting
ColombiaDiCarlo: Killings and threats against social leaders, former combatants, women, and young people are a threat to peace
On 16 September, in an event convened by Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez to take stock of the implementation of the Peace Agreement two years into his government, Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo acknowledged the progress made four years after the signing of the Peace Agreement. However, she stressed that "we remain deeply concerned about the insecurity affecting the lives of too many Colombians in conflict-affected areas of the country, notwithstanding the overall reduction in violence brought about by the peace process. The killings and threats against social leaders, former combatants, women, and young people are a threat to peace." The Special Representative for Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, also a participant, emphasized that the Agreement is the result of a consensus built between the conflicting parties on the transformations the country needs, and expressed that this common vision "has been translated into a willingness and commitment to work towards the consolidation of peace." Also participating in the event were the former President of the Spanish Government Felipe González and former Uruguayan President José Mujica; Eamon Gilmore, European Union Special Representative for Human Rights and European Union Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia; Luis Almagro, Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, and government officials responsible for implementing the Peace Agreement.
Read DiCarlo´s remarks here
Read Ruiz Massieu´s remarks here
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New York City, September 18, 2020 — As the United Nations marks its 75th anniversary, Shared_Studios and the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) are launching a virtual dialogue series to highlight the knowledge, experience and visions for the future of communities on the frontlines of conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding efforts. The series, featuring voices from Afghanistan, Bolivia, Iraq, Rwanda and Uganda, will explore a range of themes related to peace, including the role of technology in advancing peace initiatives; art in local peacemaking and conflict prevention; and how pop culture can shape the norms of peace. The conversations among these international participants will focus on community-based efforts to sustain peace and explore how interdisciplinary approaches can help spark dialogue, build social cohesion and resolve conflict. Talking Peace serves as a complementary and innovative public engagement experience to DPPA’s exhibit The Work of Peace, which is celebrating the UN’s work in conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding in its first 75 years.
“Over the past six years, Shared Studios has created meaningful human connections between people separated by distance and difference. We are excited to use our learnings to engage with communities under DPPA’s global mandate of preventing and resolving conflict around the world to bring their stories to the fore,” said Shared_Studios co-founder and Talking Peace Creative Director, Michelle Moghtader. “Talking Peace provides an opportunity for the peacebuilding community to listen and learn from the experiences of community leaders, artists and changemakers around the world, while also providing them space to exchange and learn from one another.”
DPPA is proud to partner with Shared_Studios to provide creative and innovative groups in Afghanistan, Bolivia, Iraq, Rwanda and Uganda on the forefront of peacebuilding initiatives, a novel and engaging platform to share local realities of conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding. “DPPA’s work can only succeed when it is inclusive, enjoys legitimacy and the broadest support possible. The Talking Peace conversation series is one approach to learning from experiences on the ground, in this case, through the power of curated conversations using technology as an enabler,” highlights Rosemary A. DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.
On the occasion of International Peace Day on 21 September 2020, the series will start with a conversation among artists from all five countries exploring the intersection of art and peace. The series will run through December, culminating in a (virtual) tentpole event around the future of peace.
For more information and to keep up with conversations added weekly, please visit www.talkingpeace.events.
Shared_Studios takes you outside your world, bringing you face-to-face with people you might otherwise never get the chance to know. Shared_Studios designs transformative conversations that help people thrive in an interconnected world. We bring global communities together for in-person and virtual conversations that open minds, build unlikely bonds and inspire action.
About UN DPPA:
The Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) plays a central role in United Nations efforts to prevent deadly conflict and build sustainable peace around the world. DPPA monitors and assesses global political developments with an eye to detecting potential crises and devising effective responses. The Department provides support to the Secretary-General and his envoys in their peace initiatives, as well as to UN political missions around the world. DPPA is also an agile platform for crisis response, capable, with the assent of countries concerned, of rapidly deploying mediators and other peacemaking expertise worldwide and cooperating closely with regional organizations on the frontlines of conflicts.
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The Belarus Government should end “violent crackdowns” and “increasing repression” against protesters who are still contesting the result of last month's Presidential elections, UN deputy rights chief Nada Al Nashif told the Human Rights Council on Friday.
Security Council Briefing on Syria, Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen
Thank you Mr. President (Ambassador Abdou Abarry, Niger),
I begin today’s briefing recalling – as I did last month -- the deep suffering of the Syrian people, who in this almost full decade of conflict have experienced death, injury, displacement, destruction, detention, torture, terror, indignities, instability, de- development and destitution on a massive scale – and who have seen the country they love devastated – and who are now grappling with COVID-19 and economic collapse. Syrians, both those inside the country, and the millions of refugees outside, desperately need this suffering to be eased and to see a path out of this conflict.
Against these hard realities, and the deep distrust among the Syrian parties, a faint but real ray of hope shone from Geneva when, in the last week of August, we were able to convene, after a nine-month hiatus, a Third Session of the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee.
The discussions within the Committee were mostly substantive and on the agreed agenda. The Co-Chairs told me that they sensed that some common ground was emerging on some subjects. There were practical suggestions from members on how to identify such common ground and how the discussion could move forward. I was very pleased with this.
This said, there were very real differences on substance even at the quite general level of the discussions. And the Co-Chairs were not, as I had hoped, able to agree while in Geneva on an agenda for the next session. We need a proposed agenda if the Committee is to meet.
I worked hard in Geneva and since to assist the Co-Chairs to agree. These discussions are continuing on a compromise proposal. Given the realities of organizing meetings, we need to finalize the agenda without further delay if we are to meet in early October as we had hoped.
Beyond agreeing an agenda in line with the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure, it is important to remind ourselves of other features of this document. It provides that:
I am continuing to urge that the Constitutional Committee proceeds in line with these already agreed Terms of Reference. If we can finalize an agenda and move forward in this way, I remain hopeful that we can deepen this process with a Fourth Session soon – and a Fifth and a Sixth in the coming months – as the COVID-19 situation allows.
Here let me pause to thank the Swiss Federal and Geneva Cantonal authorities, and the United Nations Office at Geneva and its medical services, and indeed the Committee members themselves, for their support in ensuring a COVID-safe Third Session, something that will be a continuing priority for future sessions too.
Yesterday, I invited the members of the Middle 50 of the Large Body of the Constitutional Committee to a briefing on the work to date and to hear views and suggestions on the process, and we will of course be following up on those discussions.
Let me also note that during the Third Session, I had the opportunity to consult the members of the Women’s Advisory Board. They provided useful ideas that showed their keen belief in the possibility to find commonalities, and that safeguard the rights of Syrian women. They, like all Syrians, wish to see concrete progress. In their view, this must happen in parallel to tangible improvements in the lives of Syrians who have urgent economic and humanitarian needs, as well as security and health concerns. This is also a constant message echoed by a broad range of civil society actors with whom we engage. Both the WAB and our Civil Society Support Room will remain active in the coming period on all aspects of the political process envisaged in resolution 2254.
The COVID-19 pandemic is emerging as a major challenge for the Syrian people, who are acutely vulnerable after 10 years of conflict. As Under-Secretary-General Lowcock told you two days ago: reports from inside Syria continue to point to a much broader spread of COVID-19 than the number of confirmed cases conveys. In some areas, existing healthcare facilities have faced challenges in absorbing all suspected cases – particularly as healthcare workers, already in short supply, are themselves struck with the virus. Syrian refugees, both inside and outside camps, remain at great risk as well.
The pandemic will only add to humanitarian needs, which remain acute. Many Syrians face food insecurity, poverty and deprivation, particularly in the face of unprecedented economic collapse and socio-economic strain. To give just one indicator: food prices remain at the highest level ever recorded – monitoring by the World Food Programme shows the price of a standard reference food basket increasedby over 250 per cent on last year. Some Syrians even struggled to access water. In the northeast, the supply from the Alouk water station was cut once again in August, before resuming following the constructive intervention of several member states.
I appeal once again for your support in securing both the necessary resources and humanitarian access for all those in need of relief, in accordance with international humanitarian law. And it remains imperative that any sanctions or measures that can undermine the capacity of the country to ensure access to food, essential health supplies and COVID-19 medical support are waived.
I continue to appeal for large-scale and unilateral releases of detainees and abductees – especially of women, children, the elderly and the sick – and for more meaningful actions on missing persons. I pressed this issue with the Astana guarantors when we met in Geneva. I note their stated intention to resume the meetings of the Working Group on this issue at the earliest opportunity – but I also note the deep dismay that lack of movement on this issue causes among Syrians of all backgrounds, and internationally as well. I will continue to press this issue with the Syrian parties, including in any forthcoming engagements.
Syria remains a highly internationalized environment, with five foreign armies active in the theatre, and Syria’s sovereignty compromised. Militarily, however, existing arrangements continue to sustain broad calm across Syria, relative to the intense violence of recent years. Indeed, the frontlines have barely shifted for half a year – the longest in the Syrian conflict – and a basic military status quo seems to be emerging.
However, while Syria is calmer than before, worrying incidents continue that could destabilize that calm:
There has also been continued worrying ISIL activity in the desert, and we saw an attack on a pipeline in areas where ISIL is active, which resulted in a nationwide electricity cut in late August.
I appeal to all relevant actors to contain these violent and de-stabilising incidents, build on the relative calm that exists, and, as resolution 2254 calls for, establish a nationwide ceasefire to protect civilians, maintain international peace and security, and support a political process. And we must, as 2254 says, counter the threat of internationally-proscribed terrorist groups active in some parts of Syria through a cooperative approach that is in line with international humanitarian law.
As we seek to consolidate calm, we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to build a more meaningful political process.
The realities on the ground remind us that only by focusing on a political settlement can we meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and restore Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity. A political process is also plainly vital if Syria’s socio-economic challenges are to be addressed, and if conditions are to emerge in which millions of refugees would be able to return in a voluntary, safe and dignified manner.
And it is clear that no one actor or group of actors – Syrian or international – can determine the outcome of this conflict. In this regard, I believe there is a growing acknowledgement among many key actors that there truly is no military solution, and that the only way forward is a negotiation and a political settlement, however difficult that may be.
That is why I believe there is a common desire from all sides to get beyond a complete stalemate and see some movement. And there is a readiness for steps to beget steps, for goodwill to beget goodwill, and for us to move slowly but steadily along a 2254-path out of this conflict, supported by mutual and reciprocal measures.
In this regard, I have received strong support from key players for the UN efforts to facilitate the Constitutional Committee – a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned process that can act as a door opener.
Beyond the Constitutional Committee, it is too early to say whether the increasingly shared assessments of the realities will turn into common diplomatic pathways for the implementation of resolution 2254. But the potential may be slowly emerging, and I will seek to nurture and support this.
I appreciated the recent presence in Geneva of senior representatives of Russia, the United States, Turkey and Iran for consultations on the margins of the Constitutional Committee. I have remained in close contact with them since, and with other European and Arab interlocutors, and this continues.
I particularly appreciated the opportunity to visit Moscow recently for substantive and wide-ranging discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Defence Minister Shoigu, in advance of Foreign Minister Lavrov joining a high-level visit to Syria last week.
I encourage Russia and the United States to advance their dialogue and for them and other key players, including the Astana Guarantors and those who meet in the Small Group, and indeed the members of this Council, to work with me toward our common goal in Syria: a political settlement in line with resolution 2254.
The immediate priority is for the Co-Chairs to agree an agenda so that we can resume the Constitutional Committee soon, and for the Committee to proceed in accordance with its Terms of Reference. Meanwhile, we must continue to work to bring about positive and mutually reinforcing steps among Syrian and international players and a wider political process in line with resolution 2254. With relative calm on the ground, and with the urgent need to alleviate the Syrian people’s suffering, now is the time to press ahead.
Thank you, Mr. President.
More than five years of war have “devastated the lives of tens of millions of Yemenis”, with experts estimating that up to one million may have been affected by COVID-19, the UN chief told the General Assembly on Thursday.
New York, 18 September 2020
Around the world, despite decades of activism, and dozens of laws on equal pay, women still earn less than 80 cents for every dollar men do. For women with children, women of colour, women refugees and migrants, and women with disabilities, that figure is even lower.
If you had told me this forty years ago, I would have been shocked. But according to the...
A Japanese principle that finds beauty in broken things, should serve as guidance for today’s fractured world as we navigate out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday during the annual ceremony at UN Headquarters to mark the International Day of Peace on 21 September.
To help prevent conflicts and at the same time protect the planet, “we all must tackle environmental degradation”, a top UN official told the Security Council on Thursday.
UN-appointed investigators have issued fresh warnings about ongoing rights violations and impunity in Burundi, since the death of former President Pierre Nkurunziza, who ran for a third term in 2015, in a move deemed by opposition to be unconstitutional.
Although the transitional government in South Sudan continues to function, with state governors now appointed, among other developments, progress on the 2018 peace agreement “limps along”, the top UN official in the country told a virtual meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday.
Thank you Dr. Lupel
I am very pleased to be joining you today.
I would like to extend my thanks to Sweden – and Minister Linde in particular – as well as International Peace Institute for organizing this event.
In the last few months, the disruptive force of Covid-19 has impacted all of us. It has caused unimaginable loss and suffering, challenged our assumptions on how we live and work, and overshadowed so many of our global priorities, including this year’s 20th anniversary year of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).
While the pandemic is primarily considered a health crisis, it has had significant impact on our socio-economic well-being and on peace and security. Many of the economic costs of the pandemic are disproportionately affecting women, who are overrepresented in some of the sectors hardest hit by shutdowns and ensuing layoffs and cuts. And gender-based violence, particularly in the home, surged around the world as COVID-19 lockdowns became necessary.
Social unrest erupted in some areas because of deteriorating economic conditions, and parties to conflict at times used the chaos and uncertainty created by the virus to press their advantage. And during this difficult period, our ability to carry out conflict prevention and resolution initiatives has been limited by travel restrictions.
More than ever, we need to make sure that women’s voices are heard in crafting the response to the pandemic and building a more peaceful world.
I would like to highlight three key areas for priority action.
First, the use of digital technology. As travel restrictions have slowed peace talks or moved them online, we have taken active steps to ensure women’s leadership continues in the virtual world.
The Special Envoy for Syria and the Special Representative for Colombia are using digital platforms to consult regularly with women groups, advisory boards and mediator networks.
In Yemen, the Special Envoy leveraged the power of digital technologies to conduct large-scale virtual consultations with over 500 Yemenis, including many Yemeni women’s networks.
We see the enormous potential for digital tools to open closed spaces, increase the transparency of power-sharing, and facilitate the safe and diverse participation of women in peacemaking. We have been able to engage more women than ever before in peacemaking activities.
However, it remains the case that virtual spaces mirror the inequalities that exist in the offline world. Women and girls in conflict-affected settings often lack equal access to technology, are deprioritized in using shared digital resources, and are subjected to online harassment and intimidation that can have real world consequences for their safety. Supporting access to technology and combatting on-line bullying must therefore be prioritized as fundamental to ensuring women’s participation in public and political life.
Second, resourcing. Effectively implementing the women, peace and security agenda requires dedicated and predictable capacity and funding.
My department has allocated 17 per cent of our extra-budgetary funds to projects supporting women, peace and security. We have also created a ‘gender marker’ to track the mainstreaming of gender issues in all our initiatives.
And the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) has over the last two years allocated 40 per cent of its total investments to gender-responsive peacebuilding.
Allocating adequate, predictable and sustained financing must be a joint priority for us all to achieve the women, peace and security agenda.
Finally, we must be more vocal and active in our support for women. In an environment of shrinking civic space and backlash against women’s rights, it is incumbent on the international community to – as the Secretary-General said in March – “pushback against the pushback”.
We must harness the current interruption to the status quo to build more inclusive prevention, peacemaking and governance structures. We need to build back better.
The continuing COVID-19 pandemic continues to top a long list of global concerns, the UN chief told journalists on Wednesday, noting that “the grimmest of milestones” is upon us.
Good morning, and warm wishes from New York. Thank you, President Duque, for the invitation to take part in this timely event, which we hope can help to advance the important work of consolidating peace in Colombia.
I also extend my warm regards to the distinguished participants here today. Our collective presence is a reminder of the deep well of support that Colombians can rely upon in the international community as they press forward with this critical agenda.
Mr. President, we meet two years into your administration and nearly four years since the signing and entry into force of the Final Peace Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the former FARC-EP.
The Agreement was a watershed moment that opened an opportunity for the country to build a future free of the violence that marked its past. It binds Colombians to an ambitious agenda for sustainable peace.
We are working closely with your Government and the former FARC-EP as well as with civil society and the institutions established as expressions of the peace process. For everyone the responsibilities are far reaching. They demand the courage to prevent differences – no matter how deep they are –from standing in the way of lasting peace. And I commend Colombians on the progress achieved this far. Colombia’s success can be a source of hope and inspiration beyond its borders, especially in those corners of the world that continue to be ravaged by violent conflict.
The United Nations has proudly stood by Colombians since the beginning of the peace process. We recognize its many achievements – which have continued under your administration - and appreciate the faith placed by the Government and Colombians across the spectrum in the United Nations Verification Mission and the work of the broader UN system.
We were first-hand witnesses as the former FARC-EP laid down its weapons and turned a page on more than five decades of armed struggle. We have seen with great encouragement how former combatants take steps – with the Government’s support – towards their social, economic and political reintegration. They are now part of the democratic political life of Colombia. And we acknowledge how the Government has worked hard to include former combatants in Colombia’s future.
In other areas of the Agreement we see the opportunity to support Colombia in addressing issues such as rural reform, political participation, transitional justice, and the problem of illicit drugs. We are inspired every day by the unrelenting work of social leaders, women’s organizations, indigenous and Afro-Colombian and youth representatives in support of peace and reconciliation in Colombia. They are a testament to the resilience and creativity – on the part of the Government, the former combatants, civil society and others - that have been required to secure these tangible gains of peace.
Still, we are reminded of the difficult path ahead.
We remain deeply concerned about the insecurity affecting the lives of too many Colombians in conflict-affected areas of the country, notwithstanding the overall reduction in violence brought about by the peace process. We condemn the violence by illegal armed groups that has continued unabated even amid a global health crisis. The killings and threats against social leaders, former combatants, women and young people are a threat to peace. We acknowledge the efforts by Colombian authorities, communities and local leaders to address this serious challenge. We all recognize more needs to be done.
In keeping with the Secretary-General's call for a global ceasefire, we appeal again to armed groups to stop the violence in order to give respite to suffering populations and to facilitate efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let me stress that Colombia is not alone in facing the difficult task of coming to terms with the past. The Peace Agreement charts out an innovative path based on transitional justice. Its key promise is to place the rights of victims at the forefront.
For it to be able to fulfill this promise, full respect and support for the bodies that form the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition will be critical. Equally important is the full commitment of the actors who took part in the conflict to truth and the acknowledgment of responsibility.
Let me also highlight the pathbreaking extent to which Colombia’s peace process reflects the critical role of women in peacebuilding. This is timely, as we approach next month the twentieth anniversary of landmark Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. I salute the work of women in government, state institutions and civil society who are playing leadership roles in their communities, and I urge all efforts to ensure the full realization of the gender provisions of the Agreement.
Let me conclude by thanking you, President Duque, again for this opportunity to be with you today as well as for your commitment and that of the officials of your government. We look forward to continuing our close cooperation and partnership. We realize that definitively ending the cycles of violence in Colombia and building lasting peace can only be achieved with efforts over time.
However, this future will be built upon the foundations set now.
As you continue to implement the Peace Agreement, you can rest assured of the continued support of the United Nations.
The spectre of famine has returned to Yemen as donor countries fail to make good on their 2020 pledges, amidst an upsurge in fighting, fresh hurdles for aid deliveries, and ongoing efforts to nail down a nationwide ceasefire, the Security Council heard on Tuesday.
Despite a reduction in largescale hostilities since a ceasefire in March, the UN Syrian Commission of Inquiry reported on Monday that armed actors continue to subject civilians to horrific and increasingly targeted abuse.
Over the next 10 years, the world could well be transformed by potentially lethal new technologies, climate disruptions and disruption caused by expanding cities, the UN peacekeeping chief told the Security Council on Monday, outlining the adaptations required to keep the Organization’s flagship enterprise fit-for-purpose as it confronts daunting new security threats.
New York, 15 September 2020
As the world confronts COVID-19, democracy is crucial in ensuring the free flow of information, participation in decision-making and accountability for the response to the pandemic. Yet since the beginning of the crisis, we have seen the emergency used in a range of countries to restrict democratic processes and civic space. This is especially dangerous in places where democracy’s roots are shallow and...