Ending poverty is possible, but it means facing up to inequality: within and between countries

Op-ed by Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations

World leaders have committed to ending poverty everywhere for all people by 2030. Achieving this aim means facing up to the need for dramatic declines in inequalities – in income, in opportunity, in exposure to risk, across gender, between countries and within countries – over the next decade.

Inequality is a well-recognized barrier to poverty eradication, as well as many other

Mr. Liu become the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Mr. Liu, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

development challenges. It features in multiple dimensions across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the universally adopted plan to promote prosperity and social well-being while protecting the environment. According to many metrics, income inequality among countries has declined somewhat in recent decades, driven primarily by strong growth in East Asian and South Asian economies.  But there are many countries—particularly in parts of Africa, Western Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean—where income levels have continued to fall further behind, exacerbating income inequalities between countries.

The latest United Nation’s analysis in the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2019indicates that per capita income levels essentially stagnated or declined in a total of 47 developing and transition economies last year. Most of these countries have been consistently falling behind for several decades. This poses an enormous challenge as countries strive to reduce poverty, develop essential infrastructure, create jobs and support economic diversification. Most of the lagging countries are highly dependent on commodities, stressing the importance of both diversification and effective management of natural resource wealth to tap into their development potential. Several countries have also suffered long-standing armed conflict or civil unrest and political instability.

If this trend continues, eradicating poverty and creating decent jobs for all will become increasingly out of reach. Weak economic performance is also linked to insufficient investment in quality education, health services, social protection, programs for marginalized groups and mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Faster GDP growth alone will not necessarily lead to broad-based improvements in living standards. Deep inequalities also persist in the distribution of income within countries, acting as a major barrier to development progress.  High inequality within countries is associated with social exclusion and fragmentation; weaker institution-building and governance; and increased risk of violence and internal conflict.

Fundamental transformations are needed going forward, to narrow the income gaps between and within countries. According to UN estimates, without significant changes in behaviour, more than 7 percent of the global population may remain in poverty by the year 2030, including about 30 per cent of the populations in Africa and the least developed countries (LDCs).

In Africa, where the population is expanding at a rate of more than 2 per cent per year, reducing the level of extreme poverty to below 5 per cent by 2030 will require a combination of double digit GDP growth and dramatic declines in inequality; well-outside the realms of historical precedence.

Integrated and cross-cutting policy measures that both raise prospects for economic growth and reduce income inequalities are essential to shift the world towards a more sustainable and inclusive path. This includes investing in education, health care, resilience to climate change, and financial and digital inclusion, to support economic growth and job creation in the short-term, while promoting sustainable development in the long term.

Macroeconomic stability and a strong development-oriented policy framework, including a well-functioning and robust financial system, are key elements for successfully tackling inequality. Well-designed fiscal policies can help smooth the business cycle, provide public goods, correct market failures and directly influence the income distribution. Broadening access to quality education is also crucial, coupled with employment policies, such as raising minimum wages and expanding social protection. Prioritizing rural infrastructure development, through public investment in transport, agriculture and energy, can also support poverty alleviation and narrow inequalities within countries.

While there is no one-size-fits-all policy prescription that guarantees delivery of a more equal and prosperous society, one overarching message is clear: calls to eradicate poverty are meaningless without concerted and committed policy action to reduce inequality.

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Mr. Liu become the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs in July 2017. Prior to his appointment, he was the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of China since 2013. Mr. Liu brings to the position more than 30 years of experience in the diplomatic service, with a strong focus on the promotion of bilateral, regional and global issues. He was deeply involved for 10 years in climate change negotiations, including the conclusion of the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. 

Press Release: Holocaust Day – UN Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan calls for Love and Peace

MANY CALL FOR PEACE AND LOVE AS ZAMBIA MARKS THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION IN MEMORY OF THE VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST

LUSAKA, 31 January 2019 – On 29 January 2019, United Nations Resident Coordinator Ms. Janet

UN Resident Coordinator Zambia, Ms. Janet Rogan

UN Resident Coordinator Zambia, Ms. Janet Rogan

Rogan spoke at a commemorative event in Lusaka to remember the victims of the Holocaust with a call for love and need to defend human rights. Six million Jews and other groups of people were killed during the Holocaust between 1941-1945 by the Nazi regime and their collaborators.

“It is necessary for us not only to remember the people who were mercilessly murdered during the holocaust, during the genocides, but also to think hard about the reasons why they were killed; to think about how the general population was incited against those people of difference. And it is necessary to do everything possible to teach ourselves and our children how to defend ourselves against such evil ideologies so that such crimes can never, ever again be perpetrated in our presence or our collective knowledge,” Ms Rogan said.

The event, organised by the UN Information Centre Lusaka, was held under the theme: ‘Holocaust Remembrance: Demand and Defend Your Human Rights.’
Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs, Reverend Godfridah Sumaili, MP, was guest of honour. In her speech, the Honourable Minister called upon youths to reject violence and instead contribute meaningfully to Zambia’s development.

“I call on youths to refuse to be used as tools to injure other people simply because they are different from one group…The youths should take their rightful place as future leaders and

A student makes comments reflecting upon the commemoration.

A student makes comments reflecting upon the commemoration.

seek meaningful participation in the development of Zambia. Zambia depends on youths as agents for change. Fighting is not one of the ways to participate in development,” Rev. Sumaili said.

The event involved informative exhibitions including a historical video narrating events and decisions that forever changed the world, and a multi-paneled exhibition where students read testimonies, viewed family photographs and learned about The Butterfly Project: stories from children and their families during the Holocaust.

Others who joined children and youth at the event in expressing their views on peace, unity, love and tolerance were a representative from the Council of Churches in Zambia, Zambia-Israel Initiative Bishop Peter Tande Mulenga, former Namwala Member of Parliament Dr. Ompie Nkumbuka-Liebenthal, Chairperson of the Council for Zambia Jewry Simon Zukas and other members of the Jewish Community in Zambia including Cynthia Zukas, Shalomi Abutbul, Izak Ephrati and Robert Liebenthal.

On 1st November 2005, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 60/7 designating 27th January as an annual International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. This day serves as an opportunity to raise awareness and bolster inclusivity among every person within their daily lives by continuing to thrive and to strive for better living standards together, undivided.

For more information, please contact:

United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lusaka
Mark Maseko, National Information Officer
P: +260-211-225-494  E: info.lusaka@unic.org

Zambian Students Learn About the Holocaust

By Shiho Kuwahara, University Volunteer, UNIC Lusaka

UNIC Lusaka organized a thought-provoking event on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust” at the University of Zambia Chapel in Zambia’s

Group photo of attendees.

Group photo of attendees.

capital, Lusaka. About 100 people, including 70 students from four secondary schools participated in the event at which the Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs, Rev Godfridah Sumaili was guest of honour. Other dignitaries included Ms. Janet Rogan, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Mr. Simon Zukas Chairperson of the Council for Zambia Jewry, Ms Victoria Chitundu, Director for Lusaka National Museum and representatives from the Jewish community in Zambia and other Faith-Based Organisations.

Rev Sumaili emphasized the importance of observing the Holocaust.

“This is a very important day as it helps us to save the coming generations from the scourge of unprecedented acts of genocide as witnessed when over six million Jews and other groups of people including Jehovah’s witnesses and gypsies were killed by the Nazi regime. Further, commemorating the Holocaust is important in reminding us of the need to protect and defend human rights,” she said.

Ms. Rogan said in her speech that it was necessary for all to not only remember the people who were mercilessly murdered during the holocaust, but also to think hard about the reasons why they were killed; to think about how the general population was incited against those people of difference. She called for need to do create awareness about need to speak and act evil ideologies so that crimes such as the Holocaust can never, ever again be perpetrated.

“To hold this kind of event is meaningful not only to honour millions of victims, but also to let people think about the value of peace to prevent the tragedy from occurring again,” she said.

Mr. Zukas shared that he lost family members during the Holocaust, a narration that left a few teary eyes in the audience. This was echoed by his wife Cynthia Zukas, who also spoke about similar losses of family members at the hands of the Nazi in concentration camps.

Pupils expressed the need for love, tolerance and unity. One pupil noted that through the event, she was able to better understand the Holocaust as it was her first-time ever hearing about these acts of genocide by the in Nazi regime. The children also observed an exhibition called Butterfly Project, a narrative about the Holocaust by children who survived the atrocities.

Picture gallery

UN Secretary-General’s remarks at UN Holocaust Memorial Ceremony

New York, 28 January 2019

[as delivered]

We are here together to remember the victims of the Holocaust – the six million Jews and many

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

others murdered during a period of unprecedented, calculated cruelty, when human dignity was cast aside for a racial ideology.

I extend a special welcome to the Holocaust survivors with us today, especially Mr. Marian Turski and Ms. Inge Auerbacher, who will share their testimony.

This International Day marks the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp 74 years ago yesterday. I also pay tribute to the veterans here today for their role in bringing the war and Holocaust to an end.

Yesterday was, by the way, also the 75th anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Leningrad.  That prolonged the blockade — 872 days of siege, starvation and suffering – that was a horror within the horror.

As we remember, we also reaffirm our resolve to fight the hatred that still plagues our world today.

In fact, it is necessary – more and more – that we sound an alarm.

It is just three months since a man armed to the teeth entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh shouting “all Jews must die”.

He murdered 11 worshippers observing Shabbat.

It was the worst anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States.

Last month at a Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg, in France, vandals smeared swastikas on dozens of tombstones and defaced a monument to Holocaust victims.

And just days ago in Bulgaria, stones were thrown through the window of Sofia’s central synagogue.

I would like to be able to say that these incidents were aberrations, or that they are only the last gasps of a prejudice that deserves to die.

But sadly, what we are instead seeing is the flame of a centuries-old fire gaining in intensity.

Not only is anti-Semitism still strong – it is getting worse.

We must rise up against rising anti-Semitism.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased by 57 per cent in 2017.

The European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency reported last year that 28 per cent of Jews had experienced some form of harassment just for being Jewish.  Many added that fears for their safety have led them to stay away from Jewish events – or even to contemplate emigrating.

Another poll in Europe by CNN revealed the strong persistence of classic anti-Semitic motifs.

In fact, the old anti-Semitism is back.

At the same time, we are seeing attempts to rewrite the history of the Holocaust, to distort its magnitude and to sanitize the wartime records of leaders, citizens and societies.

Meanwhile, neo-Nazi groups are proliferating.

A recent Public Broadcasting System Frontline programme conducted an in-depth exploration of one of the extremist and white supremacist organizations in the United States that promote hatred against Jews, and also other minorities, homosexuals and others.

Their views are right out of “Mein Kampf”.  They have, by the way, a similar book written by their leader.

Their recruitment methods target the disaffected.

They seek out people with military experience – and encourage sympathizers to join the armed forces to gain weapons training.

And the massacre in Pittsburgh was precisely in keeping with their advocacy of violent, so-called “lone wolf” attacks.

Inevitably, where there is anti-Semitism, no one else is safe.  Across the world, we are seeing a disturbing rise in other forms of bigotry.

Attacks on Muslims in several societies are on the rise, sometimes even outpacing other forms of hatred.

Rohingyas, Yazidis and many others have faced persecution simply for who they are.

Intolerance today spreads at lightning speed across the Internet and social media.

Perhaps most disturbingly, hate is moving into the mainstream – in liberal democracies and authoritarian systems alike.

We have seen this throughout the debate on human mobility, which has featured a stream of invective, falsely linking refugees and migrants to terrorism and scapegoating them for many of society’s ills.

Major political parties are incorporating ideas from the fringes in their propaganda and electoral campaigns.

Parties once rightly considered pariahs are gaining influence over governments.

And where once some political figures used the so-called “dog whistle” to signal their followers, today they also feel able to trumpet their noxious views for all to hear.

Political discourse is being coarsened.

And with each broken norm, the pillars of humanity are weakened.

That is part of what Hannah Arendt identified as the path towards totalitarianism.

We should not exaggerate the comparisons to the 1930s.

But equally let us not ignore the similarities.

We see some societies wanting to turn back the clock on diversity.

Political establishments have a profound and growing trust deficit.

The demonization of others rages on.

Such hatred is easy to uncork, and very hard to put back in the bottle.

One urgent challenge today is to heed the lessons of history and the Holocaust.

First, by keeping memory alive.

A recent poll in Europe found that one third of people say they know little or nothing about the Holocaust.

Among millennials, some two-thirds had no idea Auschwitz was a death camp.

As the number of survivors dwindles, it falls to us all to carry their testimony to future generations.  This is our duty and we must make sure that what the memory of survivors is able to tell will persist forever.

Education is crucial – about the Holocaust, about genocide and crimes against humanity, about racism and the history of slavery.

The United Nations and the Holocaust Outreach Programme has activities in dozens of countries, and we are strongly committed to expanding its reach.

And, we must stand up to those who disseminate hatred.

I have asked my Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide to assess the efforts of the UN system in countering hate speech and to devise a global plan of action to deepen this essential work.

We had, just last Saturday in Park East Synagogue, a very moving testimony from Rabbi Schneier proposing that we should gather Ministers of Education all over the world to make sure that in schools these questions are clearly introduced in the curricula and that students will never be able to deny these facts.

Because indeed, countering hate speech is essential to preventing hate crimes.

That means rejecting hate in schools and workplaces, at sporting events and on the street.

And it means reaffirming universal values and equal rights.

Finally, we must bring those rights to life.

Proclaiming principles is not enough.

Vilifying the violators is not enough.

We must go further by working for a fair globalization, by building democratic societies, and by addressing the roots of the anxieties and angers that make people susceptible to populism and demagoguery.

Governments and international organizations must show they care and make rights real in the lives of all.

One of the great shocks of the Second World War was how a society of such high attainment proved so ripe for Hitler’s venom.

In his diaries of the years from 1933 to 1945, Victor Klemperer wrote, and I quote:

“Curious: At the very moment modern technology annuls all frontiers and distances…, the most extreme nationalism is raging.”  This was said in the ‘30s.

We are not immune to the same risks today.

Our response must be clear: to strengthen all we do to build the defences, the laws and the mindsets that will uphold the dignity of all, for all time, having the fight against anti-semitism in the front lines.

Thank you very much.

 

UN and UK Partner to Help Zambia fight Trafficking in Persons

By Dawn Heaps, Intern, UNIC Lusaka

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has launched a cooperation programme to support Zambia in the fight against trafficking in persons, with funding from the

High level representatives from the Government and the United Nations who attended the launch of the Trafficking in Persons programme launch. Photo Credit/UNIC/Lusaka/Dawn Heaps

British Government and UKAid.

Launching the intervention in Lusaka recently, Zambia’s Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo underscored the severity of trafficking in persons. “This heinous crime of trafficking in persons leaves scars that are felt both by the trafficked individuals and the society from which they originate. If left unchecked, it has the potential to threaten public safety and national security,” he said.

Mr Kampyongo said that Zambia was committed to fighting Trafficking in persons, evidenced by several activities that include the country being among the first Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states to enact a stand-alone legislation on trafficking in persons which covers prosecution, protection and prevention. He added that Zambia had drafted two national plans of action to combat trafficking in persons.

Speaking at the same event UN Zambia Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan called for cooperation among all stakeholders in curbing human trafficking in Zambia, that had become not only a transit point but destination of victims of human trafficking.

And UNODC Regional Representative for Southern Africa, Zhuldyz Akisheva said that the new initiative offered an opportunity for increased focus protecting victims of human trafficking.

“Focus on victim protection is key in the global partnership against human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants. With the new programme, we have an opportunity to scale up and strengthen our work in Zambia to support a victim-centred approach in addressing human trafficking,” Akisheva said.

Echoing the urgency to act against human trafficking, British High Commissioner to Zambia, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet OBE, noted that the term “modern slavery” had been coined to describe the continuation of the disgraceful trade into modern times.

“This matters a lot because there is a significant Modern Slavery problem in Zambia….Trafficking occurs mostly within Zambia’s borders, with those from rural areas exploited in urban centres, in domestic servitude or sex trafficking, and in conditions of forced labour in sectors such as agriculture, textiles, and mining.

Part of the delegates who attended the launch. Photo Credit/UNIC/Lusaka/Dawn Heaps

According to the Global Modern Slavery Index, produced by the International Labour Organisation, International Organisation for Migration and Walk Free Foundation, in 2018 there were 9.24 million victims of modern slavery in Africa with Zambia accounting for 92,000.

The launch of the cooperation programme marked a milestone in the cooperation between UNODC and the Government of the Republic of Zambia. UNODC has been present in Zambia for the last 10 years, supporting the Zambia Correctional Service in HIV prevention and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights in prison settings and prison reform to ensure that the use the Minimum Standards of treatment of offenders, commonly known as the Nelson Mandela Rules.

 

United Nations Secretary Generals Message on International Day Of Education

Today we celebrate the first International Day of Education.

Education transforms lives. As United Nations Messenger of Peace Malala Yousafzai once said: “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”. Nelson Mandela rightly called education “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Long before I served at the United Nations or held public office in my own country, I was a teacher. In the slums of Lisbon, I saw that education is an engine for poverty eradication and a force for peace.

Today, education is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We need education to reduce inequalities and improve health.

We need education to achieve gender equality and eliminate child marriage.

We need education to protect our planet’s resources.

And we need education to fight hate speech, xenophobia and intolerance, and to nurture global citizenship.

Yet at least 262 million children, adolescents and youth are out of school, most of them girls.  Millions more who attend school are not mastering the basics.

This is a violation of their human right to education. The world cannot afford a generation of children and young people who lack the skills they need to compete in the 21st century economy, nor can we afford to leave behind half of humanity.

We must do far more to advance Sustainable Development Goal 4, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Education can also break and reverse cycles of intergenerational poverty. Studies show that if all girls and boys complete secondary education, 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty.

Let us prioritize education as a public good; support it with cooperation, partnerships and funding; and recognize that leaving no one behind starts with education.

 

 

UN Zambia Press Release on death of three juveniles in mine accident

LUSAKA, 22 January 2019 – The United Nations in Zambia expresses its deep sorrow at the death of three children, aged as young as eleven years old, in Zambia’s Luapula Province on Saturday during a mining accident.

“We are profoundly saddened to hear of the death of these three children, in circumstances where they appeared to be working in a manganese mine,” said Ms. Janet Rogan, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Zambia. “No child should be forced to work. Child labour is preventable, not inevitable. Every child should be free to enjoy their rights to education, protection and recreation. Every child has the right to a childhood, and to receive protection from unsafe environments. Children need to be removed immediately from the worst forms of child labour and provided with care and education.”

The United Nations family in Zambia offers its heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed, and pledges continued support to the Government of Zambia to improve education, child protection, labour standards and economic development. Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7 which provides that States take “immediate and effective measures to…secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.”

UNDP, UNICEF and the International Labour Organization (ILO) work in Zambia to improve conditions for children and young people, and enhance labour laws, regulation and work place protection. Last week, UNODC launched a new project in Zambia to combat trafficking in persons including those involved forced labour and sex trafficking.

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About UN Zambia

Through resident and non-resident funds and agencies, the United Nations in Zambia delivers as one in providing development and humanitarian support to the people of Zambia and refugees through the Zambia-United Nations Sustainable Development Partnership Framework.UN Zambia has, through the Resident Coordinator and UN Country Team made significant progress in systematically moving forward the UN reform agenda in the country, striving to reach the highest standards of accountability, transparency and impact.

For more information, please contact:

Mark Maseko, National Information Officer

UNIC Lusaka


P: +260-211-225-494 | M: + 260-955767062 | E: masekom@un.org

Applications Invited For Journalism Fellowships At United Nations Headquarters

New York, NY. The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists is now accepting applications from professional journalists for its 2019 fellowship program. The application deadline is March 1, 2019. 

The fellowships are available to radio, television, print and web journalists, age 25 to 35, who are interested in coming to New York to report on international affairs during the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly during the opening 10 weeks. Travel and accommodations in New York, as well as a per diem allowance are provided. 

The fellowships are open to journalists who are native to the mainly developing countries in Africa, Asia (including Pacific Island nations), and Latin America/the Caribbean and are currently working for media organizations. Applicants must demonstrate an interest in and commitment to international affairs and to conveying a better understanding of the U.N. to their readers and audiences. They must also have approval from their media organizations to spend up to three months in New York to report from the U.N. The program is not intended to provide basic skills training to journalists; all fellowship recipients must be media professionals.

In an effort to rotate recipient countries, the Fund will not consider journalist applications from nations of the 2018 fellowship recipients: Argentina, India, Kenya and Yemen. Journalists from these countries may apply in 2020. 

Four journalists are selected each year after a review of all applications and given the incomparable opportunity to observe international diplomatic deliberations and to gain a broader perspective and understanding of matters of global concern. Many past fellows have risen to prominence in their professional and countries. 

Fellowship eligibility criteria and documentation requirements, as well as the fellowship application, form can be found on the Fund’s web site at www.unjournalismfellowship.org 

Questions about the program, eligibility and the application process can be directed by email to fellowship2019@unjournalismfellowship.org. 

Although the Fund is based at the U.N., it does not receive financial support from the world organization. The Fund was established as an independent entity by U.N. journalists 56 years ago as a living memorial to the legacy of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjóld. It continues to be operated by U.N. journalists and relies on financial support from U.N. Missions, foundations, organizations and individuals.

Fallen Zambian Peacekeeper Honored At Ceremony In Central African Republic

UNITED NATIONS MULTIDIMENSIONAL INTEGRATED STABILIZATION MISSION  IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (MINUSCA)

Fallen Zambian Peacekeeper

Fallen Zambian Peacekeeper

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, delivered an emotional speech on Friday, November 16, 2018, at a ceremony honoring Staff Sergeant Derrick Sichilyango of the Zambian contingent, who died as the result of a road accident  that occurred while he was carrying out his official duties.

The ceremony was held  at the Headquarters of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA)in Bangui. The MINUSCA Force Commander, General Balla Keïta, members of the senior leadership of the Mission, as well as other civilian, police and military personnel were in attendance.

The Special Representative expressed the United Nations’ solidarity with the Republic of Zambia and its battalion serving with MINUSCA.   “It’s an immeasurable tragedy that Staff Sergeant Derrick lost his future. I salute and honor him for the work he has done to support this country, to represent Zambia with courage and honor, and to uphold the values and principles of the United Nations, ” he said.

“When we refer to our fallen peacekeepers, we most often think of those who died in the field of battle. But we must also remember that so many others have lost their lives because of the difficult environment in which we serve. They died of illness and accidents, as was the case for our deceased colleague,” recalled Mr. Onanga-Anyanga.

“He died at a time when his services in the contingent and the army of Zambia in general were indispensable. His death deprives the United Nations, the Zambian army, and the entire country of an extremely hard-working officer, “ said the Commander of the Zambian Battalion.,

Staff Sergeant Sichilyango deployed to the Central African Republic in June 2018.  He joined the Zambian Army on March 14, 2005, after basic military training, and then completed courses in auto mechanics at the Military Training Establishment of Zambia (MILTEZ). He was 38 years old, married and had three children.

With 930 peacekeepers, including 59 women, the Zambian battalion has been deployed since 2015 in the Vakaga prefecture, northeast of CAR, to ensure the protection of civilians. Based in Birao, the contingent provides security in the locality and surrounding area by conducting daily patrols. Like other contingents of the Mission, the Zambian Battalion regularly organizes civil-military activities in solidarity with the people in its area of responsibility and with the aim of strengthening social cohesion.

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70 years of the Genocide Convention – demonstrating our commitment to the promise of “never again”

By Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide

This year we will commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention

Mr. Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.

Mr. Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.

and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention). The Genocide Convention was the first human rights treaty to be adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, on 9 December 1948, just three years after the birth of the United Nations. Its adoption was largely the result of the tireless efforts of one man, Raphael Lemkin who, after losing most of his family in the Holocaust, was determined to do what he could to make sure that this crime could never happen again. Some six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, one of the most devastating human tragedies of the twentieth century, as well as many others whom the Nazis considered “undesirable”. The Genocide Convention represents the United Nations commitment to the often quoted “never again”; a commitment to learn from and not repeat history.

Regrettably, this commitment has often failed to translate into action, even when it has been most needed. We saw this in 1994 in the abject failure of the international community to prevent the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda, which cost the lives of almost a million people in the space of 100 days. No more than a year later, we witnessed it again as the international community, including United Nations peacekeepers, looked away during the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Important progress has been made since – and because of – these failures. In 1998, the International Criminal Court was established, a permanent court already foreseen by the Genocide Convention in 1948. In 2005, the Secretary-General established the post of Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, a position I currently hold, to ensure that there is a voice within the United Nations system that can alert the Secretary-General and, through him, the Security Council, to early warning signs of genocide and advocate for preventative action before genocide becomes a reality.

In addition, at the 2005 World Summit all United Nations Member States made a ground-breaking commitment to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity (atrocity crimes) and to take collective action when States manifestly fail to do so, in accordance with and using the tools provided by the United Nations Charter. This has become known as the principle of “the responsibility to protect”

Despite these achievements and the continued commitment to “never again”, we have not managed to eradicate genocide. International crimes, including genocide, are a terrible reality faced by populations across the globe. We know the warning signs and we know how to prevent these crimes, but we often fail to act in time, or to act at all. In the Central African Republic, Iraq, Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and in so many other places, people are being targeted because of their identity – because of the religion they practice, the culture in which they were raised or simply because of their distinctive physical characteristics. This is unacceptable.

We also fail to invest sufficiently in prevention, to build the resilience needed to address the risk factors for genocide, or to take timely and decisive action when we see the warning signs.

Our commitment to the Genocide Convention must be reinvigorated. The fact that we have not eradicated genocide is not because the Convention is flawed, but rather because its potential has not been fully realised. And despite universal rejection of genocide, some Member States have still not taken the fundamental step of ratifying the Convention.

At the time of writing, 145 States have ratified the Genocide Convention. Surprisingly, 45 United Nations Member States have not yet done so. Of these 20 are in Africa, 18 in Asia and seven in Latin America.

Universal ratification of the Convention is fundamental to demonstrate that genocide has no place in our world. That no one should fear discrimination, persecution or violence simply because of who they are.

What message are the States who have not ratified the Convention sending, 70 years after its adoption? That genocide could never happen within their borders? Genocide can happen anywhere. History has shown us time and again that no region or country is immune. Yet many States seem reluctant to even consider this a possibility or to undertake a critical evaluation of their risks and vulnerabilities.

In December last year, I launched an appeal for universal ratification of the Genocide Convention, urging the 45 United Nations Member States that have not done so to take steps to ratify or accede to the Convention before its 70th anniversary on 9 December 2018. The aim of this appeal is to refocus our attention on the Convention, underline its continued importance as the legal standard for ensuring the punishment of this crime, as well as its often-untapped potential as a tool for prevention.

The Genocide Convention, together with its sister treaties on human rights and the Rome statute for the International Criminal Court, remains the most important legal standard we have to fulfil the commitment to “never again” that the world made 70 years ago. For our own sakes, and for the sake of future generations: #PreventGenocide.

 

To learn more about the Convention and how you can support the appeal click here

To learn more about the Special Adviser and the work of his office click here