Secretary-General Guterres spotlights UN reform initiatives to rescue multilateralism

Secretary-General Guterres spotlights UN reform initiatives to rescue multilateralism

In a public lecture in London, Secretary-General António Guterres today stressed the need for reforming the United Nations to tackle main challenges the world is facing, including the changing nature of conflict.

“I would probably more properly concentrated on what I consider to be three main challenges we are facing in the world today,” he told a crowd of nearly 2,000 people, NGO members, academics, and the general public and others, at a lecture hosted by the UN Association for the United Kingdom.

The Secretary-General is to attend a major international conference on Somalia hosted by the UK to accelerate progress on security sector reform, build on the international response to the ongoing drought and humanitarian crisis, and agree the new international partnership needed to keep the Horn of African country on course for increased peace and prosperity by 2020.

Mr. Guterres said that the nature of conflict has changed, with many conflicts occurring within countries, not between countries. These internal conflicts have regionalized, and even globalized, with those increasingly “interlinked to what it is now a new global threat of terrorism that is impacting the whole world and that cannot be neglected by anyone anywhere.”


Secondly, he said that the fragility of political, economic and ecological environments in many parts of the world, including difficulties between communities, cultures and religions, has been the cause for many conflicts to erupt.

Thirdly, globalization and technological advances have contributed to wealth and economic growth on one hand, but to increased inequality on the other. This has created mistrust in multilateralism.

To rescue multilateralism, he said, there is a need to strongly commit to reform multilateral organizations.

Mr. Guterres said greater collaboration is need across the pillars of the UN work – peace and security, development and human rights so that resources can be reoriented to capacity to prevent crises.

In this regard, he said he launched reform initiatives, including a change in the peace and security architecture and a realignment of UN development system to better assist Member States, and management reform.

Turning to climate change, he reiterated that “green business is good business,” and highlighted the necessity for the UN to make this case and continue to mobilize the whole international community.

Finally, the Secretary-General stressed the need to combat a trend that the human rights agenda is losing ground to the national sovereignty agenda.

UN condemns deadly attack on peacekeepers in Central African Republic

UN condemns deadly attack on peacekeepers in Central African Republic

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has strongly condemned an attack against a convoy of the UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) that left four dead, one missing and 10 others evacuated.

“Attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime,” Mr. Guterres said through his spokesperson yesterday on the attack perpetrated by suspected anti-Balaka elements against a convoy of the UN Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA) on 8 May.

He called on the CAR authorities to investigate the attack – executed on the Rafai-Bangassou axis, in the country’s south east – in order to swiftly bring those responsible to justice.

Mr. Guterres offered his deepest condolences to the bereaved families and the Governments of the concerned troop contributing countries, and wished a swift recovery to the wounded.

The Secretary-General also reiterated his support to the actions of MINUSCA to protect civilians and stabilise the Central African Republic, and called “on all parties to heed President Faustin Archange Touadéra’s call to cease violence and work together towards the stability of the country.”

Clashes between the mainly Muslim Séléka rebel coalition and anti-Balaka militia, which are mostly Christian, plunged the country of 4.5 million people into civil conflict in 2013.

Also today, President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson arrived in CAR “to show solidarity with our United Nations people on the ground, particularly our peacekeepers.”

Accompanied by the President of the National Assembly, Karim Meckassoua, the Prime Minister, Simplice Sarandji and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSCA, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Mr. Thomson went to MINUSCA’s military hospital to visit the bedside of the UN peacekeepers that were wounded during the attack on their convoy.

According to the Mission, Mr. Thomson, on behalf of the Organization, took the opportunity to salute the dedication of peacekeepers engaged in all theatres of operation in the name of peace.

He went on to not that he is in CAR to spread the word on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), “but I’m also here I think you will hear from me those strong messages on sustainable development and on the solidarity that we have with what the UN mission is here.”

“The United Nations is here to help with the recovery of Central Africa, and I’m here to underline that role that the United Nations has here,” he added.

More than one million children have fled escalating violence in South Sudan

More than one million children have fled escalating violence in South Sudan

The escalating conflict in South Sudan had driven more than one million children out of the country, the United Nations announced today, warning that the future of a generation is ‘on the brink.’

“The horrifying fact that nearly one in five children in South Sudan has been forced to flee their home illustrates how devastating this conflict has been for the country’s most vulnerable,” said Leila Pakkala, the Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in a press release issued jointly with the UN refugee agency.

“Add this to the more than one million children who are also displaced within South Sudan, and the future of a generation is truly on the brink,” she warned.

Children make 62 per cent of more than 1.8 million refugees from South Sudan, according to the latest UN figures. More than 75,000 refugee children in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have crossed South Sudan’s borders either unaccompanied or separated from their families.

“No refugee crisis today worries me more than South Sudan,” said Valentin Tapsoba, the Africa Bureau Director of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“That refugee children are becoming the defining face of this emergency is incredibly troubling,” he added.

South Sudan has the highest proportion of out-of-school children in the world at about 75 per cent.

The trauma, physical upheaval, fear and stress experienced by so many children account for just part of toll the crisis is exacting. Children remain at risk of recruitment by armed forces and groups and, with traditional social structures damaged, they are also increasingly vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse and exploitation.

UNICEF’s appeal of $181 million for South Sudan and South Sudanese refugees in the region for the rest of the year is currently only 52 per cent funded while UNHCR’s funding appeal of $ 781.8 million for the country is only 11 per cent funded.

UNESCO spotlights power of jazz to promote dialogue among cultures

On International Day, UNESCO spotlights power of jazz to promote dialogue among cultures

Marking International Jazz Day, the United Nations cultural agency today stressed the power of jazz to unite people and its contribution to peace.

“Today, we celebrate the international art form of jazz and its power to promote dialogue among cultures, to make the most of diversity, to deepen respect for human rights and all forms of expression,” said UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova in her message on the Day.

Ms. Bokova quoted Nina Simone as saying that “jazz is not just music, it is a way of life, it is a way of being, a way of thinking.”

Today, we celebrate the international art form of jazz and its power to promote dialogue among cultures, to make the most of diversity, to deepen respect for human rights and all forms of expression.

“The story of jazz is written into the quest for human dignity, democracy and civil rights,” Ms. Bokova said, noting that its rhythms and variety have given strength to the struggle against all forms of discrimination and racism.

The Cuban capital of Havana is hosting this year’s celebration of International Jazz Day, reflecting the city’s profound ties to jazz. Hometown of renowned bandleaders, Mario Bauzá and Frank ‘Machito’ Grillo, the city and, more broadly, Cuba’s thriving musical culture gave birth to the Afro-Cuban jazz movement, inspired by a great mix of cultures and peoples across the region.

The celebration features an all-star global concert that displays the world’s greatest talents from Cuba, Latin America and around the world, including legendary jazz pianist and composer UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue, Herbie Hancock, and Cuban jazzman, Chucho Valdés.