THE NINTH UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL: MR. ANTONIO GUTERRES ASSUMES NEW ROLE

Mr. Antonipic-3o Guterres began his new mandate as the ninth United Nations Secretary General on January 1st.  Speaking shortly after he took the oath of office on December 12, 2016, Mr. Guterres commended his immediate predecessor, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, for his leadership in charting out the future of the UN with the Sustainable Development Goals. He also highlighted the strategic priorities of the UN as; working for peace, supporting sustainable development, and reforming its internal management. Mr. Guterres stressed among other things, his desire to work with Member States on structural, legal, and operational measures to make the zero-tolerance policy a reality as he pledged to make human dignity the core of his work as the UN Secretary General.

On December 15, Mr. Guterres fulfilled one of his pledges; “to respect gender parity and geographical diversity,” by appointing three women as core members of his team. These team members and their respective appointments are; Ms. Amina Mohammed of Nigeria who is the deputy Secretary General, Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil and Ms. Kyung-wha Kang of the Republic of Korea as his Chef de Cabinet and Special Advisor on Policy.

As he assumed office on January 1, Mr. Guterres pledged to make 2017 a year for peace.

Watch Mr. Guterres: https://youtu.be/fIErDYzxfps

 

pic-4

Amina Mohammed of Nigeria.  UN Photo

pic-5

Enter a captionMaria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil

pic-6

Kyung-wha Kang of the Rep. of Korea.  UN Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE: SDGS ARE BUILDING BLOCKS FOR PEACE

International Day of Peace is observed on September 21 every year. poster- Peace Day 2016 SDGs Eng.jpgPeace is not just the absence of war. Positive peace is only possible when the rights of individuals in any given society to access their basic needs and their well being are guaranteed. Poverty breeds violence. As 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammad Yunus poignantly points out,

      Poverty is the absence of all human rights. The frustrations, hostility           and anger generated by abject poverty cannot sustain peace in any society. For building             stable peace, we must find ways to provide opportunity for people to live decent lives.

Almost one year into the life cycle of the 2030 Global Agenda, the UN Secretary General has chosen “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace” as the theme for this year’s International Day of Peace. What better way to build a just and peaceful world than for governments to honor the commitment they made to their citizens this time last year; to end poverty, hunger, provide quality healthcare, education, … by 2030.

Learn more about the first year of the SDGs. Click on any goal for more details; click on report to see what countries have done this first year: http://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2016

DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD’S VISION FOR THE UN: MAKE ROOM FOR STILLNESS

Dag HammarskjöldDag Hammarskjöld, 2nd UN Secretary General, served from 1953 until his untimely death in 1961. In 1957 he established a Meditation Room at United Nations headquarters in New York because he believed that “We all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence. This house, dedicated to work and debate in the service of peace, should have one room dedicated to silence in the outward sense and stillness in the inner sense.”

Meditation Room UNSecretary Hammarskjöld created the room to be one of utter simplicity, containing only a spotlight falling on a block of iron ore with a mural on the wall behind. Simple seats allow visitors to rest and ponder the light, iron, and design and their relevance to the UN and their own peace-making efforts. His dedication, displayed outside the Meditation Room, concludes: “There is an ancient saying that the sense of a vessel is not in its shell but in the void. So it is with this room. It is for those who come here to fill the void with what they find in their center of stillness.”

Let us all continue to bring stillness, peace, and understanding to our troubled world.

CULTIVATING FRIENDSHIP: HIROSHIMA SPREADS PEACE WORLDWIDE

sapling from Hiroshima A-bomb survivor Gingko treeOn May 2, Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima, along with Nikhil Seth, Executive Director of the UN Institute for Training & Research (UNITAR), presented to the United Nations Office at Geneva a sapling from an A-bomb Survivor Gingko tree in Hiroshima. In the fall the sapling will be planted by the UN Secretary-General in the Ariana Park of the Palais des Nations in Geneva as part of the Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative. Jointly sponsored by UNITAR and the NGO Asian Network of Trust-Hiroshima, the initiative aims to safeguard and spread worldwide the seeds and saplings of Hiroshima’s A-bomb Survivor trees.

WORKING FOR PEACE: PUSHING FOR A BETTER WAY

Cheryl Morrissey, NGO Representative for Pax Christi International at the UN, shares why she works for peace: 

Cheryl M cropMy father had multiple myeloma and then quadriplegia as a direct result of exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. A career US Army Officer—an elite Army Ranger (similar to Navy Seals) and part of the celebrated 173rd Airborne Brigade, “The Sky Soldiers”—he was exactly the gung-ho strong and young hero-type the rest of us look to when “we” want to go to war—but just not actually go ourselves, or let anyone we love go. The sacrifices made by soldiers, sailors, and pilots like him around the world in all countries—the lifelong physical and spiritual burdens we pack onto them without much thought but LOTS of braggadocio—are an important motivation to do anything I can at the UN that increases peace and justice. We have to keep pushing for a better way to coexist.

E_SDG_Icons-16.jpg

  • Peace needed off-planet too: E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, speaks on prevention of an arms race in outer space http://bit.ly/1WbS3Ul
  • World Radio Day was celebrated on 13 February with the theme “Radio in times of war and conflict”www.signis.net/spip.php?article8104
  • Join the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict: www.gppac.net
  • Notre Dame student represents USA at peace meeting in Japan: http://bit.ly/1Vfq9Z0

 

You can’t win a war any more than you can win an earthquake.
Jeannette Rankin

Combatting Piracy off the coast of Somalia: International Community Support Needed

AliyaBy Aliya Yagudina, Intern in SNDatUN Office

On 10 November 2015, H.E. Matthew Rycroft (UK) announced the provisional agenda for the 7554th meeting of the Security Council – “the Situation in Somalia”. At the morning session of the meeting, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2446 (2015) concerning the renewal of anti-piracy measures in Somalia for a period of one year. As he started, H. E. Rycroft drew attention of the Council members to the document S/2015/776 – the Report of the Secretary-General on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, which provided a basis for a draft resolution. The text of a draft resolution was submitted by France, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and the United States.

Somali piracyAs reported by the Secretary-General earlier this month, international efforts in combating piracy have shown some improvements, and the total number of illegal activities caused by Somali pirates continued to decline. In fact, the last incident when a commercial vessel was hijacked and held for ransom took place two years ago. However, the Council emphasized that piracy contributed greatly to the instability in Somalia, particularly, owing to the circulation of illicit cash that had exacerbated crime and corruption in the country. Therefore, it is necessary for the international community to take a comprehensive action in investigating and prosecuting those who participate, organize, support, finance, and profit from pirate attacks. The Council encouraged States to adopt legislation to facilitate the prosecution of suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia. It is noteworthy that in a collaboration effort between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the Trust Fund on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, the new Supreme Court for piracy and maritime crimes has been established in Seychelles.

Additionally, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has shown progress in combating the threat of piracy through the development of legal framework. In October, the authorities of Somalia submitted a draft coastguard law to the Parliament, which was supported by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) Operation Atalanta. Furthermore, the Council stated that Somalia should also ensure the application of a proper legal framework for the distribution of fishing licenses “in a responsible manner”.

Finally, the Council renewed the partial lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia, which did not apply to “military equipment or the provision of assistance destined for the sole use of Member States, international, regional and sub-regional organizations in the fight against piracy”.

As the Secretary-General pointed out, the country’s fragile economy, weak governance, high youth unemployment and the lack of alternative livelihoods are among the major factors that provide the favorable environment for piracy to develop and expand. As a matter of fact, prevailing corruption in Somalia represents a direct obstacle to the state-building process, and consequently a freeway to illegal piracy activities, which are often involved in human trafficking, drug trade, and terrorism (Al-Shabab). Hence, the support and assistance of the international community in tackling the major threats of piracy off the coast of Somalia is necessary and urgent. The international community should increase its support in the areas of governance, rule of law and economic development to address the root causes of piracy, support in its efforts to persecute and punish the suspects of piracy according to the international law, and to cooperate with maritime organizations, such as IMO, UNODC, NATO Operation Ocean Shield, EUNAVFOR, to conjointly combat maritime crime and piracy, and to ensure stability, compliance with international human rights standards, and international peace and security in the region.

Report of the Secretary-General on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia S/2015/776:
www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2015/776

CROATIA V. SERBIA: INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE RULING

AliyaBy Aliya Yagudina, Intern in SNDatUN Office

On November 5, 2015, H.E. Ronny Abraham, President of the International Court of Justice, presented his report to the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. As he stated, over the period of one judicial year, from 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015, the Court has held hearings in three out of 14 pending contentious cases. The mentioned cases concern disputes between Costa Rica v. Nicaragua on Certain Activities Carried out by Nicaragua in the Border Area and the Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River (Nicaragua v. Costa Rica), the Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)[1], and Alleged Violation of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Colombia). Currently, the cases are in the process of deliberation.

Abraham ICJIn his speech, H.E. Abraham primarily focused his attention on presenting a report on the Court’s Judgment on the merits in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia). According to Mr. Abraham, the Court has announced the main findings in the dispute between Croatia v. Serbia started on 2 July 1999, and ultimately brought the case to a close on 3 February 2015. In its application, Croatia claimed that the Serb forces and Yugoslav National Army (JNA)[2] committed an act of genocide against the ethnical Croat group between 1991-1995. The Petitioner accused Serbia of breaching Article IX of the Genocide Convention. For its part, Serbia argued the inadmissibility of the case due to the fact that it referred to the events before Croatia and Serbia’s independence on 8 October 1991 and 27 April 1992 accordingly. In addition, Serbia filed a counter-claim alleging Croatia’s perpetration of genocide against Croatian Serbs during the Operation “Storm” in the summer of 1995.

ICJ logo

Logo of the International          Court of Justice 

The Court examined the questions of admissibility of the Parties’ respective claims, the applicability of law in the case (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide), and consideration of “fully conclusive” evidence provided by both sides, including documents from the ICTY and written statements of witnesses. Based on the solid analysis of the evidence, the Court affirmed that the genocide committed by the Serb and JNA forces took place in the regions of Eastern and Western Slavonia, Banovina/Banija, Kordun, Lika and Dalmatia. However, the Croatian claim was rejected in the absence of direct evidence of physical destruction (actus reus) or “genocidal intent” of the crimes, which the Court considered as the “forced displacement” of Croats from the above-mentioned regions. As for the Serbian Logo argument, similarly, the Court alleged to lack sufficient proof of the Genocide Convention violations by Croatia, and rejected Serbia’s counter-claim in its entirety.

He concluded his speech by briefly reviewing the new cases placed on the List before the ICJ (Somalia v. Kenya, Congo v. Uganda).

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that the International Court of Justice makes a great contribution to the development of rules and norms of international law. As the principle judicial organ of the United Nations, the Court has been playing a vital role in international conflict resolutions, the peaceful settlement of legal disputes between the States, and, particularly, maintaining peace and security in the world.

APPLICATION OF THE CONVENTION ON THE PREVENTION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE (CROATIA v. SERBIA):  www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/118/18422.pdf

OBLIGATION TO NEGOTIATE ACCESS TO THE PACIFIC OCEAN (BOLIVIA v. CHILE):
www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/153/18622.pdf

[1] On 24 September 2015, the Court delivered its second Judgment on the merits of the case in order to establish the admissibility of the Court’s jurisdiction to the case brought before it by Bolivia.

[2] Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1943-1992
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1992-2003
State Union of Serbia and Montenegro 2003-2006