Tag Archives: Peace and Security

Secretary-General António Guterres video message on International day of UN Peacekeepers, 29 May

29 May 2020

Today we honor more than one million men and women who have served as United Nations peacekeepers and the more than 3,900 who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

We also express our gratitude to the 95,000 civilian, police and military personnel currently deployed around the world.

They are facing one of the greatest challenges ever: delivering on their peace and security mandates while helping countries to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The theme of this year’s observance – Women in Peacekeeping – highlights their central role in our operations.

Women often have greater access in the communities we serve, enabling us to improve the protection of civilians, promote human rights and enhance overall performance.

This is especially important today, as female peacekeepers are on the frontlines in supporting the response to COVID-19 in already fragile contexts – using local radio to spread public health messaging, delivering necessary supplies to communities for prevention, and supporting efforts of local peacebuilders. Yet, women continue to represent only 6 per cent of uniformed military, police, justice and corrections personnel in field missions.

As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, we must do more to achieve women’s equal representation in all areas of peace and security.

Together, let us continue to wage peace, defeat the pandemic and build a better future.

 

UN Observes International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on 29 May 2020

PRESS RELEASE

27 MAY 2020

UN Secretary-General to commemorate fallen peacekeepers,  and honour Military Gender Advocates of the Year

Two fallen peacekeepers from Zambia to be honoured at United Nations ceremony

UN Headquarters will observe the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on Friday, 29 May 2020. Secretary-General António Guterres will lay a wreath to honour all UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives since 1948 and will preside over a ceremony at which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be awarded posthumously to the 83 military, police and civilian peacekeepers who lost their lives in 2019.

Among the fallen peacekeepers to be honoured are two from Zambia: SSGT Patrick Simasiku WAMUNYIMA and SSGT Alex Mudenda MUSANDA who both served with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

The Secretary-General will also award the ‘2019 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award’ to Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo, a Brazilian naval officer serving with the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and Major Suman Gawani from India who served in UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Created in 2016, the Award “recognises the dedication and effort of an individual peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security”. This is the first year the award has gone to more than one peacekeeper.

In a video message to mark Peacekeepers Day, the Secretary-General said: “Today we honor more than one million men and women who have served as United Nations peacekeepers and the more than 3,900 who have lost their lives in the line of duty.  We also express our gratitude to the 95,000 civilian, police and military personnel currently deployed around the world.  They are facing one of the greatest challenges ever: delivering on their peace and security mandates while helping countries to address the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Zambia is the 20tht largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping.  It currently contributes more than 1,000 military and police personnel – including 154 women —  to the UN peacekeeping operations in Abyei, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, South Sudan and one expert deployed with the UN Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement in Yemen.

“The theme of this year’s observance – Women in Peacekeeping – highlights their central role in our operations.  Women often have greater access in the communities we serve, enabling us to improve the protection of civilians, promote human rights and enhance overall performance yet, women continue to represent only 6 per cent of uniformed military, police, justice and corrections personnel in field missions.  As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, we must do more to achieve women’s equal representation in all areas of peace and security,” the Secretary-General added.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, said: “As our peacekeepers continue to carry out their essential work amidst the constraints presented by COVID-19, ensuring women’s meaningful, equal and full participation in peace operations, as well as in peace and political processes, is key to protecting civilians and building durable peace.  Women who serve in peace operations play an essential role in helping communities in the fight against COVID-19. They must be a central part of all international, national and local responses.”

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002, to pay tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeeping, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace. The General Assembly designated 29 May as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers in commemoration of the day in 1948 when the UN’s first peacekeeping mission, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), began its operations.

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For further information, please contact Douglas Coffman, Department of Global Communications, at tel./WhatsApp:  +1 (917) 361-9923, or e-mail:  coffmand@un.org; or Aditya Mehta  of Peacekeeping Operations, at tel./ WhatsApp:  +1 (917) 775-4249 or e-mail: mehta2@un.org; or visit the Peacekeepers Day website at www.un.org/en/events/peacekeepersday, or the United Nations Peacekeeping website at www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/pkday.shtml.

Follow the #PKDay #womeninpeacekeeping campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

UN Peacekeepers Must Stay the Course

April 23, 2020

by Atul Khare and Jean-Pierre Lacroix

United Nations peace operations promote stability and security in some of the world’s most dangerous and fragile places. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, overstretched UN peacekeepers—civilian, military,  and police—were a thin blue line helping to protect civilians, support peace agreements and contain conflicts in hot spots and war zones across the globe.

If—or more likely when—the COVID-19 virus further spreads in countries already weakened by war and poverty, it will not only threaten the lives of the thousands, but could also tip the balance from tenuous peace back to conflict and despair. Communities recovering from conflict often live right at the survival line, every day facing poverty and the lack of basic health services. For these societies, the stakes could not be higher and the importance of UN assistance has never been greater.

To extend the global fight against COVID-19 to areas struggling to emerge from conflict, we need to continue sustaining and promoting peace and stability. Together with our partners, UN peacekeeping missions are working to achieve four objectives: (1) supporting local efforts to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, (2) keeping UN personnel safe and ensure they receive the best available care by enhancing medical testing and treatment capabilities, (3) ensuring that peacekeepers are able to continue their work without spreading the virus by practicing social distancing and other mitigation measures, and (4) advancing their difficult mandates to support peace and contain conflict even as COVID–19 spreads.

As UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently told the Security Council, this pandemic could potentially lead to an increase in social unrest, a lapse in state authority and even violence that would greatly undermine our collective capabilities to fight the virus. For countries that have a handful of ventilators for millions of people, the possibility that one in 1,000 could contract COVID-19 and 15 percent of those could need care in an intensive care unit, is staggering. The brutal statistics of COVID-19 do not just reflect a global health crisis—they signal a fundamental threat to the maintenance of international peace and security.

We are committed to ensuring that our UN peace operations do everything they can to be an integral part of the solution to the pandemic. From the Central African Republic to Lebanon, from Somalia to Mali, our personnel continue to deliver. They are doing so bravely and with dedication, staying on the front lines even as they worry about family back home, even as air links and supply lines are stretched by the global response to COVID-19, even as cases are appearing in host countries.

The strength of our peacekeeping partnerships—whether other UN actors, NGOs, or regional organizations like the African Union (AU)—has never been more important. Despite the increasing demands on our peacekeepers to deliver their mandates, we must recognize that our partners also face the risks of this pandemic. Our peacekeeping missions offer a medical infrastructure that can support all UN personnel at risk of the virus while they continue their work. Protecting ourselves is key to being able to protect others.

We are also doing everything we can to keep our supply chains resilient. Our logistics experts have developed a business continuity plan for life-support needs, while ensuring the planning, provision, and delivery of goods and services critical for the implementation of peace mandates. Personal Protective Equipment is being made available in all our missions; we are supplying our own respiratory ventilators and ensuring that the capacity of intensive care units and supplies is sufficient to ensure that we do not strain already stretched local resources. We are also strengthening medical evacuation capabilities in close collaboration with our partners and UN member states. Strict social distancing measures are in place, and missions are reducing our “footprint” by lowering population density among uniformed personnel and civilian staff.

While our missions must protect themselves from COVID-19, they continue to reach out to local communities, protecting civilians and assisting host governments to contain the virus. Radio Okapi, the UN’s radio station in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has launched a nation-wide, multilingual campaign to inform the local population about COVID-19, focusing on dispelling rumors and countering misinformation.

In Darfur, our operation is raising awareness among vulnerable groups on the importance of precautionary measures to control the spread of COVID-19, including in camps for internally displaced persons in the north and central parts of the state, where the risks of infections spreading is heightened. In Cyprus, our mission is working with women’s organizations to support those suffering from domestic violence during the quarantine.

At the same time, blue helmets continue to carry out their pre-COVID-19 tasks: protecting civilians, supporting political processes, and helping to build government capacity. In the DRC, peacekeepers recently helped free 38 civilians, including women and children, who had been abducted by an armed group in the country’s east, as they helped the national army to repel an attack. In Mali, two weeks ago, when the government decided it was important to press ahead with legislative elections, our mission provided critical logistical and operational support and helped secure polling stations on election day. In Somalia, the UN has been supporting AU soldiers and the government to develop their own COVID-19 preparedness and response plans, while working to ensure that terrorist groups do not seize the opportunity to strike while attention is focused on the pandemic. The struggle against COVID-19 may be a “second front” for the peacekeepers, but both battles continue.

Last week, the UN secretary-general decided to suspend the rotation of all our troops and police until June 30th. Such measures will keep our blue helmets on the ground, where they are needed most, and will help protect and reassure communities and UN colleagues alike by postponing the movement of thousands of personnel to and from home countries and transit points. This is a decision not taken lightly given the remoteness, hardship, and dangers often faced by peacekeepers. Staying in the field is a sacrifice for personnel who expected to return home after an arduous tour of duty. We are grateful that the countries that provide these police and military personnel have agreed to this measure so that our peace operations can maintain their operations, keeping the peace while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 contagion. We are doing everything possible to support our brave women and men, so they can keep themselves and their host communities safe.

As the UN secretary-general said when he called for a global ceasefire, there should only be one fight in the world today: our shared battle against COVID-19. For UN peacekeeping, this includes our unwavering commitment to the health and safety of our personnel and the people we serve. This is why UN peacekeepers must continue their important work. And it is why, now, more than ever, they need our full support.

Atul Khare is the Under-Secretary-General of the UN Department of Operational Support. Jean-Pierre Lacroix is the Under-Secretary-General of the UN Department of Peace Operations.

Picture credit: In Kananga, DRC, MONUSCO policewomen organized an awareness campaign against COVID-19 on April 18, 2020 in four markets in the city, in collaboration with the provincial Ministry of Gender, the town hall and the National Police.(MONUSCO/Twitter)

Dag Hammarskjöld Remembered

On 20th September 2017, over 50 youths in Lusaka joined the rest of the world in

Dag Hammarskjöld

commemorating the 56th memorial of the death of former United Nations Secretary General (UN) Dag Hammarskjöld who died in a plane crash near Ndola while on a peace mission involving the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1961.

The event which was held at the United Nations House in Lusaka attracted guests that included Swedish Ambassador to Zambia Henrik Cederine and Resident Representative of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Zambia Alexio Musindo (who represented the UN Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan).

In a speech read on her behalf by Mr. Musindo, Ms. Rogan expressed sadness at the use of youths in Zambia as perpetrators of violence.

“It is sad to note that the youth have been used as tools to injure others simply because they belong to a political party different from their own,” Ms. Rogan said. She urged the youths to refrain from violent activities and embrace peace as they are vibrant and can act as agents for change.

His Excellency the Ambassador said that the life of Hammarskjöld shows that one man can make a difference. “Dag Hammarskjöld showed as that one man can make a difference. He followed his own convictions, and he had the ability to shape events as well as tirelessly defending the ideals of the UN charter,” The Ambassador said.

Other institutions such as the Dag Hammarskjöld foundation in Sweden represented by Ms. Karin Abbor-Svennsson, the Pillars of Peace, Global Platform, Zambia Scouts Association as well as Agents of Change were present at the event.

As part of the event, dialogue was held on the role of youths in building peace. Several proposals were later made by participants on how youths can ensure that they are advocates of peace. One of the proposals made was the need for the youths to be actively involved in events that are aimed at promoting peace.

Laying of Wreaths on Cenotaph erected in honour of Mr. Hammarskjold

Laying of Wreaths on Cenotaph erected in honour of Mr. Hammarskjold

On 22nd September 2017 In Ndola, a solemn event was held at the Dag Hammarskjold crash site in honour of the work that Dag did. There were songs, poems and dance with messages of peace. in attendance was the Provincial Minister Hon. Bowman Lusambo, The Swedish Ambassador, Representative of the Dag Foundation in Sweden, the United Nations, various educational institutions and the Defense Forces. The Minister called on the nation to come together and work for peace.

Wreaths were laid at the cenotaph erected in honour of Mr. Hammarskjold and a tour of the crash site was conducted by the Site Manager Mr. Hanguwa who explained a few significant findings at the site such as how long it took the recovery team to reach the site, where Dag was found and how the site was designed in the shape of the plane based on the direction the plane was facing at the time of the crash.

The Secretary General’s Written Message on International Womens Day- March 8 2017

Women’s rights are human rights. But in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed.

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realize their full potential.

Historic imbalances in power relations between men and women, exacerbated by growing inequalities within and between societies and countries, are leading to greater discrimination against women and girls. Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices.

Women’s legal rights, which have never been equal to men’s on any continent, are being eroded further. Women’s rights over their own bodies are questioned and undermined.  Women are routinely targeted for intimidation and harassment in cyberspace and in real life. In the worst cases, extremists and terrorists build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and single them out for sexual and gender-based violence, forced marriage and virtual enslavement.

Despite some improvements, leadership positions across the board are still held by men, and the economic gender gap is widening, thanks to outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism. We must change this, by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world.

Denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back. Gender equality has a transformative effect that is essential to fully functioning communities, societies and economies.

Women’s access to education and health services has benefits for their families and communities that extend to future generations. An extra year in school can add up to 25 per cent to a girl’s future income.

When women participate fully in the labour force, it creates opportunities and generates growth. Closing the gender gap in employment could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025. Increasing the proportion of women in public institutions makes them more representative, increases innovation, improves decision-making and benefits whole societies.

Gender equality is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the global plan agreed by leaders of all countries to meet the challenges we face. Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls specifically for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and this is central to the achievement of all the 17 SDGs.

I am committed to increasing women’s participation in our peace and security work. Women negotiators increase the chances of sustainable peace, and women peacekeepers decrease the chances of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Within the UN, I am establishing a clear road map with benchmarks to achieve gender parity across the system, so that our Organization truly represents the people we serve.  Previous targets have not been met. Now we must move from ambition to action.

On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.