THE RE-ELECTION OF MR. ANTONIO GUTERRES, THE UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL

Antonio Guteress (right) takes the oath of office for his 2nd term as UNSG administered by Volkan Bozkir, Presedent of the 75th session of the UNGA – UN photo/Eskinder Debebe

The United Nations General Assembly, on 18 June 2021, re-elected Antonio Guterres for a second five-year term as the UN Secretary-General. In his speech on taking the oath of office administered by Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly, Mr. Guterres acknowledged the immense responsibilities bestowed on him at this critical moment in history as the UN Secretary-General. He outlined some of the challenges as the ongoing pandemic, climate change, lawlessness in cyberspace, and geopolitical divide. Mr. Guterres, however, pledged to use his second term to “ensure the blossoming of trust between and among nations large and small, to build bridges and to engage relentlessly in confidence-building … and to “seek to inspire hope that we can turn things around, that the impossible is possible.”

It is easier said, but in a very polarized world with a multitude of challenges, Mr. Guterres will need all possible support from every angle of the globe to pilot the affairs of the 193-nation body in the coming five years. We wish him and his deputy, Ms. Amina Mohammed, wisdom, courage, and strength in their very vital role at this crucial moment in history.

PARTICIPATE IN GENERATION EQUALITY FORUM

Generation Equality Forum will be held in Paris from 30 June to 2 July 2021. The Forum is the largest global feminist gathering since 1995: governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, and young people will come together to drive gender equality forward. All the events are digital and broadcast on the event platform, accessible from 29 June.

The Generation Equality Forum is part of a series of World Conferences on Women organized by the United Nations since 1975. The Fourth Conference, which took place in Beijing in 1995, was a historical turning point for gender equality at the international level. 

At the Generation Equality Forum, you will be able to interact with other participants, ask a question, follow a conference: 90 events involving 500 panelists will be offered to you.

To register and to learn more about the Forum, click on the following link: https://bit.ly/3uLDRrJ 

Registration closes on 27 June 2021.

SPOTLIGHT ON GLOBAL ISSUES: PARTICIPATE IN VIRTUAL UN MEETINGS IN 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted how most organizations worldwide, including the United Nations, functioned in 2020.  The UN convened virtually for most of the meetings and conferences because of the travel restrictions and prohibition on large gatherings. A few others were either canceled or postponed to a later date. With yet no known cure for the virus and access to the new vaccine not assured to the broader global population very soon, the UN will most likely continue to maintain virtual meetings, at least through the first quarter of 2021.

 The good news about virtual meetings is that it allows for broader participation. More people can follow the proceedings from anywhere in the world, as long as they have the digital technology and electricity to connect. With the use of digital technology, millions of people in different places worldwide were able to access many life-saving services during this period of the pandemic. On the other hand, so many people are left behind for lack of access to either digital technology or steady electricity. In a report released in August this year by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an estimated 463 million learners could not access remote learning at the peak of the COVID-19 schools’ lockdowns. The inequity in access to digital technology starkly revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic impelled the UN Commission on Social Development to take the issue as the topic for deliberation during its 59th Session, 8-17 February 2021.

If you wish to participate in any UN meetings listed below, please send an email to SNDatUN@SNDDEN.org. You will also be able to follow some of the sessions on http://webtv.un.org/

  • 8 – 17 February 2021: 59th Session of the Commission on Social Development (New York). Priority theme: “Socially just transition towards sustainable development: the role of digital technologies on social development and well-being of all.” Read more:   https://bit.ly/3pP0tGx
  • 15 – 26 March 2021: 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (New York).
    Priority theme: “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.” Read more: https://bit.ly/2J4Pt72
  • 19 – 30 April 2020: 19th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) (New York). Theme: “Peace, justice and strong institutions: the role of indigenous peoples in implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16.” https://bit.ly/3mUJwsb

64TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN: “WOMEN 2000: GENDER EQUALITY, DEVELOPMENT, AND PEACE FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY.”

3As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, recommended a scaled-down, shortened session of the 64th UN Commission on the Status of Women, with the participation of only New York-based delegation. All parallel and side events scheduled to take place during the commission were cancelled. The cancellation was quite understandable, yet disappointing for the over 12,000 people who registered to attend the event from different parts of the world. New York-based Member States delegates convened on 9 March and adopted a political declaration on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women entitled; “Women 2000: Gender equality, development, and peace for the twenty-first century.” Some civil society representatives were also present.

Click HERE to read the political declaration.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF EDUCATION: “LEARNING FOR PEOPLE, PLANET, PROSPERITY, AND PEACE.”

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UNICEF Photo

 

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution 73/23 on 3 December 2018, designating 24 January the International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education in promoting peace and sustainable development.

 

Though progress has been made in the past decades in providing access to education for more children, especially children from less-developed economies, a lot more still needs to be done. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), over 258 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school.” This is unacceptable. “Education is a human right, a public good, and a public responsibility.” Therefore, it must not become a tool for reinforcing inequality. Providing “inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all” by 2030 is goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by Member States of the UN in 2015. Governments must be held accountable to deliver these goals. Education is key to achieving the SDGs. And as rightly pointed out by the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Ms. Amina Mohammed, “failure to attain the educational needs of the population, equals failure to achieve the SDGs.”

SDG 4: Facts and Figures

  • Enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 percent, 4but 57 million primary age children remain out of school.
  • More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • An estimated 50 percent of out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas.

Read more:

Ten targets of the Sustainable Development Goal 4: https://bit.ly/36hC5lG

International Day of Education: https://bit.ly/36jCVhW

THE 74TH UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION

2In September each year, heads of states and governments of the 193 member countries of the United Nations gather in New York for the UN General Assembly. As one of the six principal organs of the UN, the General Assembly (GA), draws equal representation from all Member States of the organization. The GA is led by the president who is elected on a rotational basis from among the Member States every year. In early June 2019, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Mr. Tijani Muhammad Bande was elected president of the 74th General Assembly. In his inaugural speech at the opening of the 74th Session of the GA, Mr. Bande outlined his priorities in the coming year as the GA president. These include; peace and security, poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, climate action, and inclusion.

Alongside the traditional General Debate (when heads of states and governments deliver

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Un General Assembly Hall:  UN Photo

their speeches), the UN Secretary-General (UNSG), Antonio Guterres, also convened five meetings covering critical global issues from 24-27 September. These meetings were; the Climate Action Summit, high-level conference on Universal Health Coverage, and the high-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Others were the high-level dialogue on Financing for Development, and the high-level Review of Progress made in Addressing the Priorities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) through the implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway.

Read more:

The 74th UNGA Session: https://bit.ly/2TTMmzT

“A YEAR OF ACTION:” UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL’S 2019 NEW YEAR MESSAGE

1The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, welcomed the new year with fresh optimism. In his new year message, Mr. Guterres emphasized how the on-going reforms of the UN system will transform the works of the organization. According to him, “the aims of reform are clear: To focus more on people and less on the process. To become nimbler and more effective. And to build a workplace of equality, diversity, and integrity.” Mr. Guterres noted that 2018 was a year of critical decision, however, 2019 is going to be a year of action!

Click HERE to watch the full video footage of Mr. Guterres’ new year message.

 

MAKING MIGRATION WORK FOR ALL: THE GLOBAL COMPACT FOR SAFE, REGULAR AND ORDERLY MIGRATION

5In her opening remarks during the first multi-stakeholders dialogue held at the margin of the first intergovernmental negotiations on the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Migration, Ms. Louise Arbour, made the following plea: “Over the long-term the evidence is clear: the benefits of migration vastly outweigh the challenges. And without a clear understanding of migration, negative narratives surround migrants. “We must not allow xenophobic political narratives about migration distort our objective to enhance international cooperation on migration.” She further stressed that “it is only with facts and context that we can have a respectful and realistic discussion about migration, one that pushes back on the many inaccurate and negative narratives being touted for short-term political gains and misguided policies.”

The large influx of refugees/migrants from some middle east and African countries into Europe between 2014 – 2016, following the escalation of conflicts and the socio-political and economic challenges in these regions raised a huge global concern, as well as socio-political backlash from some European countries. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) responded to the situation by convening a high-level summit to address the large movements of refugees and migrants in September 2016. At the end of the summit, UNGA adopted a resolution 71/1, also known as the New York Declaration (NYD). According to the UNGA, the New York Declaration “expresses the political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale.” Explicit in the NYD was a commitment by the Member States to negotiate and adopt separate global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and refugees by 2018.

While work on the Global Compact for refugees was largely coordinated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, the process for negotiating the

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UN General Assembly

global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration was strictly state-led, and facilitated by the Permanent Representative of Switzerland and Mexico to the United Nations. After an extensive multi-stakeholder consultations and six intense months of intergovernmental negotiations, Member States came up with an agreed document on 13th July 2018. The agreed negotiated documents for both the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and refugees, will be adopted by the UN General Assembly in early December 2018, in Marrakech, Morocco. When adopted, the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration will be the first-ever global framework on migration governance.

In her remarks at the end of the negotiations, the UN Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Amina Mohammed, commended Member States for staying in the process despite as she noted, “some profound issues that migration raises such as sovereignty of states and human rights; what constitutes voluntary movement; the relationship between development and mobility; and how to support social cohesion.” Ms. Mohammed pointed out that, “this compact demonstrates the potential of multilateralism: our ability to come together on issues that demand global collaboration – however complicated and contentious they may be.” All Member States of the UN was part of the intergovernmental negotiations for safe, orderly and regular migration except for the United States of America and Hungary.

Read more:  Intergovernmental negotiated and agreed outcome document of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration; https://bit.ly/2LP0ycL

The UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants 2016: https://bit.ly/2bqPpvC

The New York Declaration: https://bit.ly/2o9ItXe

 

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF REMEMBRANCE OF THE VICTIMS OF SLAVERY AND TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE: “TRIUMPHS STRUGGLES FOR FREEDOM AND EQUALITY”

5The transatlantic slave trade era which spanned from about 1501 to 1803, marked one of the darkest chapters in the history of humanity. Over 15 million children, women, and men were taken from the African continent and were enslaved in Europe and the Americas, to work mostly in plantations. The transatlantic slave trade became the largest forced migration in history. On December 17, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly in resolution 61/122 declared 25 March as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, in commemoration of the victims of this horrendous act against humanity. The theme for the 2018 commemoration is: “Triumphs and Struggles for Freedom and Equality.”  Additionally, in 2014 The UN General Assembly declared 2015 – 2024, as the International Decade for the People of African Descent. Some of the main objectives of the International Decade according to the UN are to uphold the following:

Although, the transatlantic slave trade was formally abolished in the 19th century, modern day slavery continues to thrive till this day. In his remarks at the occasion of the unveiling of the Permanent Memorial to the Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade at the UN Headquarters in 2015, the Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, expressed his hope that “The Ark of Return will also serve as a call to action against the many contemporary manifestations of slavery, from human trafficking and sexual enslavement to debt bondage.”

 

Read more: Brazil: The Story of Slavery; http://bit.ly/2I3xzfM

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade: http://bit.ly/15e9sGC

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the International Decade for the People of African Descent: http://bit.ly/2ocpCOc

 

“HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE AND EDUCATION: OUR SHARED RESPONSIBILITY”

04The United Nations General Assembly on 1 November 2005 adopted a resolution A/RES/60/7 designating 27 January, as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The General Assembly adopted the above resolution by “consensus condemning “without reserve” all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whenever they occur.” The theme for the 2018 Holocaust Remembrance Day is “Holocaust Remembrance and Education: Our Shared Responsibility.” This theme, according to the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme highlights the importance of education on the tragedy of holocaust in order to encourage the future generation to reject all forms of racism, violence and extremism. “To build a future, you have to know the past.” (Otto Frank)

Hatred, intolerance, discrimination and demonization of an entire population simply on the basis of their race, ethnicity, sexuality or religious beliefs could potentially be the first step to inciting a genocide.  As the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres warns, “It would be a dangerous error to think of the Holocaust as simply the result of the insanity of a group of criminal Nazis. On the contrary, the Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of hatred, scapegoating and discrimination targeting the Jews, what we now call anti-Semitism.”

Read more:

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: http://bit.ly/MjAbc4

Resolution A/RES/60/7: http://bit.ly/2mQkbBW

Unforgettable; Holocaust Survivors speak; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVqmUtWBy8E