Tag Archives: UN

The Secretary General- Global Appeal to Address and Counter COVID-19-Related Hate Speech

COVID-19 does not care who we are, where we live, what we believe or about any other distinction. We need every ounce of solidarity to tackle it together. Yet the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering.

Anti-foreigner sentiment has surged online and in the streets. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have spread, and COVID-19-related anti-Muslim attacks have occurred. Migrants and refugees have been vilified as a source of the virus — and then denied access to medical treatment. With older persons among the most vulnerable, contemptible memes have emerged suggesting they are also the most expendable. And journalists, whistleblowers, health professionals, aid workers and human rights defenders are being targeted simply for doing their jobs.

We must act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate. That’s why I’m appealing today for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally.

I call on political leaders to show solidarity with all members of their societies and build and reinforce social cohesion.

I call on educational institutions to focus on digital literacy at a time when billions of young people are online – and when extremists are seeking to prey on captive and potentially despairing audiences.

I call on the media, especially social media companies, to do much more to flag and, in line with international human rights law, remove racist, misogynist and other harmful content.

I call on civil society to strengthen outreach to vulnerable people, and religious actors to serve as models of mutual respect.

And I ask everyone, everywhere, to stand up against hate, treat each other with dignity and take every opportunity to spread kindness.

Last year, I launched the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech to enhance United Nations efforts against this scourge. As we combat this pandemic, we have a duty to protect people, end stigma and prevent violence.

Let’s defeat hate speech – and COVID-19 – together.

COVID-19: A double burden for women in conflict areas, on the frontline

By: 

NJOKI KINYANJUI

Since COVID-19 broke out in December 2019, it has continued to spread across the globe unabated, with countries at different phases along the curve

Public health emergencies worldwide, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impacts, affect women and men differently, but take a disproportionate toll on women.

Even more so in conflict-affected countries and post-conflict contexts, where the existing gender inequalities and exclusion of women from all decision-making, including on peace and security issues, are severely deepened.

In these contexts, women are often on the periphery of the community’s solutions, especially peace and political solutions; and have limited access to critical information and decision-making power on social, economic, health, protection and justice outcomes.

Yet, with all these challenges, women remain on the frontline agitating for meaningful and full political participation and in other socio-economic arenas, including in health.

It is therefore very positive that the Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for a global ceasefire to enable COVID-19 responses in fragile and crisis settings has been endorsed by many Member States, regional organizations and civil society groups including women’s organizations.

There is already documented evidence on the rise of violence against women, particularly domestic violence. In his recent message on Gender Based Violence and COVID-19, Mr. Guterres notes that “over the past weeks as economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying global surge in domestic violence” and issued a rallying call to end violence against women in their homes.

Women on the frontline

It is well recognized that globally, women predominantly carry the burden of providing primary healthcare,. About 70 per cent of global health workers are women and emerging statistics show that health workers are increasingly getting infected by COVID-19.

Women are also employed in the service industries and the informal sector, which are amongst those hardest-hit by the measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission. They are also paid less and are most often the ones doing unpaid care work.

Women’s networks and organizations are key partners in UN peacekeeping. They provide innovative community approaches to resolve conflicts, and wage peace and reconciliation. It is these same networks that are critical vehicles for women’s participation in COVID-19 decision-making, prevention and responses and elevated advocacy for the global ceasefire call. This is particularly critical at the local level, where COVID-19 prevention and response measures are anchored in community engagement, participation and sharing the right information.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix recently emphasized that peacekeepers, both women and men, are playing a key role in providing credible information along with their protection and conflict resolution work, in partnership with national authorities in fragile environments further strained by the pandemic.

As 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, the multiple impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the inequalities it lays bare are a stark reminder of how women can lead to turn the tide, as actors and decision-makers at all levels, in the health sector, but also more broadly on peace and political processes in their respective countries.

It is a time to come together and use the momentum created by the endorsement of the global ceasefire call, to protect women, safeguard the gains towards the fulfillment of their rights and lead as protectors of peace.

 

Ms. Kinyanjui is the Chief of Gender Unit and Senior Gender Adviser, UN Department of Peace Operations

For more information on COVID-19, visit www.un.org/coronavirus

Africa Renewal

 

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)

COVID-19: We Will Come Through This Together

by António Guterres

The upheaval caused by the coronavirus – COVID-19 — is all around us.  And I know many are anxious, worried and confused.  That’s absolutely natural.

UNSG Antonio Guterres

We are facing a health threat unlike any other in our lifetimes.

Meanwhile, the virus is spreading, the danger is growing, and our health systems, economies and day-to-day lives are being severely tested.

The most vulnerable are the most affected—particularly our elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, those without access to reliable health care, and those in poverty or living on the edge.

The social and economic fallout from the combination of the pandemic and slowing economies will affect most of us for some months.

But the spread of the virus will peak.  Our economies will recover.

Until then, we must act together to slow the spread of the virus and look after each other.

This is a time for prudence, not panic. Science, not stigma.  Facts, not fear.

Even though the situation has been classified as a pandemic, it is one we can control. We can slow down transmissions, prevent infections and save lives.  But that will take unprecedented personal, national and international action.

COVID-19 is our common enemy.  We must declare war on this virus.  That means countries have a responsibility to gear up, step up and scale up.

How?  By implementing effective containment strategies; by activating and enhancing emergency response systems; by dramatically increasing testing capacity and care for patients; by readying hospitals, ensuring they have the space, supplies and needed personnel; and by developing life-saving medical interventions.

All of us have a responsibility, too — to follow medical advice and take simple, practical steps recommended by health authorities.

In addition to being a public health crisis, the virus is infecting the global economy.

Financial markets have been hard hit by the uncertainty.  Global supply chains have been disrupted.  Investment and consumer demand have plunged — with a real and rising risk of a global recession.

United Nations economists estimate that the virus could cost the global economy at least $1 trillion this year – and perhaps far more.

No country can do it alone. More than ever, governments must cooperate to revitalize economies, expand public investment, boost trade, and ensure targeted support for the people and communities most affected by the disease or more vulnerable to the negative economic impacts – including women who often shoulder a disproportionate burden of care work.

A pandemic drives home the essential interconnectedness of our human family.  Preventing the further spread of COVID-19 is a shared responsibility for us all.

The United Nations – including the World Health Organization — is fully mobilized.

As part of our human family, we are working 24/7 with governments, providing international guidance, helping the world take on this threat.

We are in this together – and we will get through this, together.

António Guterres is Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Mulungushi University Joins the Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda

By Racheal Nambeya, Team Assistant, UNIC Lusaka

As part of the commemoration of the 25thAnniversary of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in

UN Resident Coordinator a.i and Food and Agriculture Organization Country Representative, Dr. George Okech, responds to a question by a student during the event. Photo: UNIC/Lusaka/2019/Mukonka

UN Resident Coordinator a.i and Food and Agriculture Organization Country Representative, Dr. George Okech. Photo: UNIC/Lsk/2019/Mukonka

Rwanda, UNIC Lusaka organized an educational outreach activity on 17 April 2019 at which the UN Zambia Resident Coordinator, a.i. George Okech made a presentation to over 160 students at Mulungushi University in Kabwe district. The event was organised by UNIC in partnership with a student group, the International Relations Association of Mulungushi University Students (IRAMUS).

The presentation focused on events that led to the genocide in which more than 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis but also moderate Hutus, Twa and others who were opposed to the genocide were systematically killed in 100 days, effects of the genocide, how genocide can be avoided, lessons learnt and the role of the United Nations in preventing such mass killings of people.

Speaking during the event, Mulungushi University Acting Vice-Chancellor Dr. Judith Lungu called for a need by humanity to learn from past mistakes in order to build a better future.

Mulungushi University students follow the presentation on the Rwanda Genocide. Photo: UNIC/Lusaka/2019/Mukonka

Mulungushi University students follow the presentation on the Rwanda Genocide. Photo: UNIC/Lsk/2019/Mukonka

“As Mulungushi University, we pay homage to the people who endured that abominable cruelty during the genocide. Only by looking at the past can we strive to avoid the mistakes made. “Students should always strive to encourage the spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ among each other and set high ethical standards for themselves for now and the future generations to come,” she said.

And Dr. Okech who is also Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Country Representative emphasized on the vital role that youths play in fostering peace and respect for diversity.

“As we commemorate, let us all pledge to work together to build a harmonious future for all people, everywhere and further preserve peace through co-existence among tribal groupings, tolerance, respect for human rights,” he said.

During the event, students also watched a short film documentary titled ‘Kwibuka’ after which they interacted with Dr Okech in a very participatory and though-provoking question and answer session through which issues around the genocide in Rwanda and UN  role were clarified.

Moving a vote of thanks, Natasha Mapulanga a 4thyear student of International Relations, thanked the UN for engaging with students on issues of peace and noted the critical role that

Dignitaries pose for a group photo with students after the event. Photo: UNIC/Lusaka/2019/Nonde

Dignitaries pose for a group photo with students after the event. Photo: UNIC/Lsk/2019/Nonde

the UN has played in ensuring international peace and security since its founding in 1945.

Every year, the United Nations organizes, through its Outreach programme on the Rwanda Genocide, outreach activities to honour those who were murdered and reflect on the suffering of those who survived. The Outreach Programme on the Rwanda Genocide and the United Nations is an information and educational outreach programme run by the UN Department of Global Communications.

The UN Secretary Generals Message- International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

The transatlantic slave trade was one of history’s most appalling manifestations of human barbarity.

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

We must never forget the crimes and impacts, in Africa and beyond, across the centuries.

The United Nations Remember Slavery Programme helps to ensure that the lessons are learned and heeded today. Enslaved people struggled against a legal system they knew was wrong.

On many occasions, they sacrificed their lives in the hope of freedom. We need to tell the stories of those who stood up against their oppressors, and recognize their righteous resistance.

On this International Day of Remembrance, we pay homage to the millions of African men, women and children who were denied their humanity and forced to endure such abominable cruelty.

We honour them by standing up against ongoing forms of slavery, by raising awareness of the dangers of racism in our time, and by ensuring justice and equal opportunities for all people of African descent today.

Thank you.

Link to video message

The UN Secretary Generals Message- World Water Day March 22

Water is vital for survival and, alongside sanitation, helps protect public and environmental

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

health. Our bodies, our cities and our industries, our agriculture and our ecosystems all depend on it.

Water is a human right. Nobody should be denied access. This World Water Day is about upholding this right for all, leaving no one behind.

Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe water due to factors such as economic status, gender, ethnicity, religion and age. Growing demands, coupled with poor management, have increased water stress in many parts of the world. Climate change is adding dramatically to the pressure. By 2030, an estimated 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity.

We must encourage cooperation to tackle the global water crisis and strengthen our resilience to the effects of climate change to ensure access to water for all, especially for the most vulnerable. These are vital steps towards a more peaceful and prosperous future. As we strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must value water resources and ensure their inclusive management if we are to protect and use this vital resource sustainably for the benefit of all people.

Message in other UN official languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish.

The United Nations Secretary General- Message on The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 21 March

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an occasion for all of us to renew our promise to end racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred. The recent massacre at two mosques in New Zealand is the latest tragedy rooted in such poison.

No country or community is immune from racial and religious hatred and the terrorism of bigots. I am deeply alarmed by the current rise of xenophobia, racism and intolerance. Hate speech is entering the mainstream, spreading like wildfire through social media and radio. It is spreading in liberal democracies and authoritarian States alike.

These dark forces menace democratic values, social stability and peace. When people are attacked, physically, verbally or on social media because of their race, religion or ethnicity, all of society is diminished. It is crucial for us all to join hands, stand up and defend the principles of equality and human dignity.

We must all work harder to repair the fissures and polarization that are so prevalent in our societies today. We must nurture mutual understanding and invest in making diversity a success. And we must counter and reject political figures who exploit differences for electoral gain.

We must also ask why so many people feel excluded and tempted by messages of intolerance against others. We need to engage everyone in dismantling the harmful and specious notion of racial superiority. Even today, decades after the pseudo-science of the Nazis contributed to the Holocaust, the world is seeing the persistence – and even a surge – of neo-Nazi thinking and white supremacy. We must bury such lies once and for all.

Today let us all resolve to fight racism and discrimination wherever it occurs. Let us reflect on how we can promote non-discrimination in every country and at every level. We are all connected by our humanity. We are all equal. We should all be looking out for each other’s welfare.

Message in other UN official languages: ArabicChineseFrenchRussianSpanish.

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on flooding in Zimbabwe

The Secretary-General is saddened by the loss of life, destruction of property and displacement of people due to the heavy rains and flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai.

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the victims and to people and Government of Zimbabwe.

The United Nations expresses its solidarity with the Zimbabwe authorities and stands ready to work with them as they respond to the humanitarian needs resulting from this disaster.

Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General
New York, 17 March 2019

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the attack at two mosques in New Zealand

The Secretary-General is shocked and appalled at the terrorist attack at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. He extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

and to the Government and people of New Zealand.

The Secretary General recalls the sanctity of mosques and all places of worship. He calls upon all people on this holy day for Muslims to show signs of solidarity with the bereaved Islamic community.

The Secretary-General reiterates the urgency of working better together globally to counter Islamophobia and eliminate intolerance and violent extremism in all its forms.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General
New York, 15 March 2019