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Why Femicide is on the Rise in Mexico

23. Juli 2021 - 19:31
Unique among countries in the world, Mexico considers Femicide as a crime distinct from homicide. Simply put, Femicide — which is sometimes referred to as “feminicide”–  is the crime of murdering a woman or girl on account of her gender. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, the documented numbers of Femicide in parts of Mexico have skyrocketed. This includes a part of the State of Mexico, near Mexico City, known as The Periphery. It is here that my guest today, Caroline Tracey, has reported on the increased frequency of Femicide and actions that local groups are taking to fight back against this trend. Caroline Tracey is a writer and doctoral candidate in geography at the University of California-Berkeley.  Her article was published as part of the Stanley Center’s “Red Flags or Resilience Series?” that uses journalism to explore the connections between the coronavirus pandemic and the factors for risk and resilience to mass violence and atrocities around the world. Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public This episode is produced in partnership with the Stanley Center. To view Caroline Tracey’s article and other stories in this series please visit https://resilience.stanleycenter.org/  

The post Why Femicide is on the Rise in Mexico appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Head of COP 26 Alok Sharma Previews His Agenda For the Major Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland

21. Juli 2021 - 20:07

This November, the United Kingdom will host COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. This will be the most signifiant moment in international climate diplomacy since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Just four months ahead of this monumental climate summit, the president of COP26 Alok Sharma sat down with several media organizations affiliated with Covering Climate Now. UN Dispatch is a member of this collaborative and we are able to republish two key stories, printed below.

 

Rich nations “must consign coal power to history” – UK COP26 president

LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) – Climate change talks this year aimed at keeping global warming in check need to consign coal power to history, the British president of the upcoming United Nations’ conference said on Wednesday.

Britain will host the next U.N. climate conference, called COP26, in November in Glasgow, Scotland.

The meeting aims to spur more ambitious commitments by countries following their pledge under the Paris Agreement in 2015 to keep the global average temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius this century. The measures are aimed at preventing
devastating and extreme weather events such as heatwaves, colder winters, floods and droughts.

“I’ve been very clear that I want COP26 to be the COP where we consign coal power to history,” Alok Sharma, UK president for COP26, told journalists in an interview with Reuters and other partners of the global media consortium Covering Climate Now.

Coal is the most polluting energy source if emissions are not captured and stored underground. While that technology lags, most coal units around the world produce not only carbon dioxide emissions, responsible for global warming, but other pollutants harmful to human health.

The Group of Seven (G7) nations have pledged to scale up technologies and policies that accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity, including ending new government support for coal power by the end of this year, but many countries still finance and plan to build new coal plants.

After catastrophic floods swept across northwest Europe last week and as wildfires continue to rage across southern Oregon in the United States, energy and climate ministers of the Group of 20 rich and emerging nations (G20) will meet this week in Italy to try to increase emissions cuts and climate finance pledges.

“I think the G7 has shown the way forward,” Sharma said, adding that island nations he has visited this year such as in the Caribbean, want the biggest emitters of the G20 to follow suit.

A tracker run by groups including the Overseas Development Institute shows the G20 has committed at least $296 billion for fossil fuel energy support since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and $227 billion for clean energy.

“Many of these countries are already very ambitious in terms of abating climate change. But for it to make a difference in terms of the weather patterns that are hitting (countries), they need the biggest emitters to step forward and that’s the message that I’m going to be delivering at the G20,” he added.

One of the biggest challenges facing the UK COP26 Presidency will be to persuade countries to commit to more ambitious emissions-cut targets and to increase financing for countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Long-held disagreements over the rules which will govern how carbon markets should operate will also need to be overcome. The rules, under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, are regarded by many countries as a way of delivering climate finance.

“I’ve said to ministers that we need to move beyond people restating their long-held positions. I think we have to find a landing zone,” Sharma said.

  —

Tackle climate change with same urgency shown to pandemic, Says Sharma

Tagline: This story originally appeared in The Times of India and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

By Sunil Warrier & Manka Behl

Four months from now, all eyes will be on world leaders slated to meet in Glasgow to discuss measures to combat climate change. The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, is anticipated to be the most important meeting to battle rising temperatures, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, wildfires and other catastrophic events.

Ahead of the international climate talks and the G20 ministerial meet on environment, climate and energy which is scheduled on July 22-23 in Naples, British MP Alok Sharma, who is also the COP26 president, speaks exclusively to TOI and other partners of the global media consortium Covering Climate Now on grappling issues — right from lack of progress on climate finance, limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degree Celsius, the comeback of the United States in the Paris climate accord and his discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on India’s progress.

 

Excerpts from the interview:

 The main polluting nations are yet to meet their goals, both in mitigation and finance. India has been telling the world that it is on track to meet its Paris Agreement goal. As president of COP26, how will you bridge this trust deficit?

 

I agree that trust is a vital commodity in climate negotiation, and it is incumbent on the donor nations to deliver that trust by showing a clear delivery roadmap for the $100 billion a year. Everyone knows that climate change does not recognize borders. And so, my message to every country is: Please come forward with ambitious 2030 emission reduction targets which are then aligned with net zero by the middle of the century. The overarching message that I would like to come out of COP26 is that we have credibly done enough as well to keep 1.5 degrees Celsius (global warming) within reach. I am not saying to developing nations that they must curb their development. The issue is how you do that in a green way.

 

 

Are you happy with the progress made by India?

 

When in India a few months ago, I had very constructive discussions. I also met Prime Minister Modi. And I know that in a climate biodiversity loss, these are issues that he personally cares very deeply about. I have been incredibly impressed by the work that has been done on clean energy transition in India. And obviously India’s goal of setting up 450 gigawatts of renewables by 2030 also points the way to how India will take part in this clean energy transition. My ask of every country is the same.

 

 

Keeping in mind the impact of burning of coal on not just environment and climate change, but also public health, would you advise India now to say a complete no to coal?

 

International investors are increasingly reluctant to invest in coal power. They have understood that they may well end up in some years with stranded assets. And they’re seeing that actually the prices of renewables — solar, offshore wind — have been coming down significantly. I think the market will help drive the movement in terms of the clean energy transition. One of the reasons that in the UK we were able to have such a rapid growth in our offshore wind sector is because we deployed various revenue mechanisms. It meant that the private sector was able to invest and could get a return. And that’s what then led the scaling up of investments.

 

 

Have you interacted with India’s new environment minister Bhupender Yadav? How difficult is it for a new environment minister to come into COP and get a hang of climate change?

 

I tweeted out a congratulations to him when he was appointed. I’m looking forward to him participating in our ministerial meeting. I think he’ll be doing so virtually. In terms of any new portfolio, you need time to get used to it. But, as I understand from Mr Yadav’s profile, he is someone who has a deep understanding of environmental issues.

 

 

What do you take from the pandemic as a lesson to combat climate emergency?

 

We want world leaders to apply the same sense of urgency to the challenge of climate change as they have indeed done to dealing with the global pandemic. Also, in relation to COP26, one of the issues of concern is how delegates from other countries, who would have not been able to get vaccinated by the time of the meet, will travel. So, we have announced that the UK, working with the UN and other partners, will ensure that all accredited delegates who are not able to get a vaccine in their home country will be supported and vaccinated. It’s vitally important that we hold this event physically. At the end of the day, this is a negotiation among almost 200 countries of the world, and that’s why we need to do this physically. We hope to ensure that COP26 is for the delegates as well as for the people of Glasgow.

 

 

Was it a setback that COP could not be held in 2020 due to Covid?

 

There have been positives over the last year since UK accepted COP presidency. The US administration has come back into accepting the Paris Agreement under its President Joe Biden. It means the country is back in the frontline to fight climate change. Yet, despite Covid, climate change didn’t take time off: Last year was the hottest year on record, comparable to 2016 and the last decade was the hottest on record. And that’s why it’s vital that the world comes together in November so that we can reach an agreement and say with credibility that we’ve kept 1.5 alive.

 

 

Have COP events become like a talk show and are governments viewing each other with deep suspicion?

 

I have travelled to 30 countries in recent months and will continue to travel more despite Covid. I will attempt to build trust and a relationship, that’s going to be vital. My four goals from COP26 are: The overarching ambition of keeping 1.5 within reach, financial support from developed nations for developing countries, those with adaptation plans to come forward and closing off really important issues from the Paris rulebook itself.

 

 

What are the other key issues expected to be negotiated at COP26?

 

Even before we reach Glasgow in November, all countries need to thrash out many things. I am hoping to make good progress during the meeting this week. The five key areas of discussion would be adaptation, finance, loss and damage, Article six and 1.5 degrees C. The politicians need to know what is at stake and the need to compromise. This next decade is going to be decisive in determining the future for our planet when it comes to climate and biodiversity. And I always say that for a child born today, their future as far as the future of the planet is concerned will be set before that child completes primary education. It is as dark as that.

 

 

How do countries view climate activism? There are many youths who are in the forefront of protests.

 

As COP president, I take the work done by climate activists very seriously. This is the first COP where we’ve set up a civil society and youth advisory group of people from across the world who worked with my officials on crafting COP. Ahead of the meeting in March, we took advice and views from civil society and youth activists as well. Every visit I do, I try and meet, and hear their views. The reality is that very often climate activists are holding a mirror up to world leaders. And we need that. At COP26, we’re going to have a Youth Agenda Day focused on the views of youth and of issues around education. Italy (COP26 partner) is hosting a climate event in Milan ahead of COP (called pre-COP26 Summit). Around 400 young people from around the world, young climate activists will come together and present their views to ministers.

 

UN climate science scientists have said that the 1.5 degrees Celsius target requires steep global emissions cuts. But there is still some disagreement around whether the target should be 1.5 or 2 degrees.

 

We just need to step back a little bit and look at what it is that the world agreed to in Paris in 2015. World leaders came together and said that we should do everything we could to keep average global temperature rises to below two degrees and closer to 1.5 degrees. And that’s why we talk about the overarching aim of fix for us collectively, to be able to say that we kept 1.5 within reach. Now, the science tells us that we are over one degree average global temperature rises across the world, and we are seeing the impact of that on a daily basis around the world. In Europe, we have seen the very tragic flooding that’s taking place in Germany. Across the world, we are seeing the impacts of climate change and every fraction of a degree makes a difference.

 

 

Climate finance will be one of the key issues in COP26, specifically the $100 billion commitment. While figures cited by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the UK government revealed that the figure totalled to $79 billion, Oxfam has found it to be around $20 billion, taking into consideration the vague accounting and different definitions for where the money is coming from. How is that shortfall going to be made up? Which countries need to pledge more?

 

There are a number of issues when it comes to finance. The first is that we need to deliver on the $100 billion a year. The OECD report has stated that in 2018, we have got to just under $80 billion. All the G7 nations have stepped forward and said that they are going to put more money on the table. While the UK is doubling its climate finance commitment, we have also seen new money on the table from Japan, Germany and Canada. We need all the other donors to step forward with more financing. There are going to be opportunities between now and COP26 for countries to come forward and make those additional announcements. This is something that the developing countries will very much want to see — a solid delivery plan on how we are going to get the $100 billion and by what point over the next two years. For the developing nations, this is a totemic figure which has now become a matter of trust. Also, while the hundred billion is vitally important, what we need to do is to ensure that we are mobilizing trillions from the private sector alongside this commitment. We need to make a route for private investors to be able to invest in developing countries, in climate-resilient infrastructure, clean energy transition and ensuring that they can get a return.

 

 

Is the money being allocated appropriately between mitigation and adaptation?

 

I certainly do not want to see adaptation as the poor cousin of mitigation, which it currently is. So, we do want to see more money being channelled into adaptation. And I think the access to finance is also vitally important.

 

 

You now have a US administration back at the table, a rich partner. Give us a sense of the strategy of trying to extract some money out of that partner to facilitate what we have just been talking about.

 

I am very pleased that we have an administration that is back on the frontline in the fight against climate change. And I think it was particularly telling that one of the first executive orders that the new president, President Biden, signed was on rejoining the Paris agreement. I think this was a real message for the world. The US is back, and the US is going to work alongside other countries in tackling climate change. Of course, there’s been more money that is being put on the table from the US and that’s welcome. What the US does is going to be vitally important. 

 

 

How should one read into UK not giving foreign financial aid?

 

At the UN General Assembly Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that we would be doubling our international climate finance commitment. And in the last week, he has reaffirmed that. We are urging other countries to do the same. The UK remains a global leader overall when it comes to supporting countries around the world — we will be spending around 10 billion pounds this year.

 

 

What do you consider your biggest challenge as president of COP26?

 

I think the biggest challenge is ensuring that we are persuading countries to come forward with ambitious commitments. As I said, we have seen progress. We have gone from 30% of the world covered by net zero target to 70%. We have seen ambitious indices from a range of countries, but we need that from everyone. If you look at some of the most ambitious countries in terms of cutting emissions, in terms of going carbon neutral, those are the countries that are on the frontline of climate change. And we owe it to them, and we owe it to future generations to get this right.

 

The post The Head of COP 26 Alok Sharma Previews His Agenda For the Major Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What is Driving the Protests, Looting and Riots in South Africa?

19. Juli 2021 - 16:53

Protest, looting, and riots have plunged South Africa into a deep crisis. Scores of people have been killed in this unrest which was sparked by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma on July 7th.

At time of recording, the government was dispatching 25,000 troops to bring order–and unprecedented military mobilization in the post-apartheid era.

On the line with me from Johannesburg is journalist Geoffrey York, the Africa Bureau Chief for The Globe and Mail. We kick off discussing the circumstances that lead to former president Jacob Zuma being sent to prison, and how and why his jailing sparked protests in key provinces of South Africa. We then discuss what this unrest reveals about inequality, poverty, joblessness and state failure in South Africa.

If you have 20 minutes and want to better understand why South Africa is experiencing this major unrest, have a listen.

 

Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post What is Driving the Protests, Looting and Riots in South Africa? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

A Crisis Mounts in Africa’s Only Absolute Monarchy, Eswatini (Formerly Known As Swaziland)

15. Juli 2021 - 18:24

Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) is a small country in Southern Africa nestled on the border between South Africa and Mozambique. It is notably Africa’s only absolute monarchy. The king effectively rules by decree, with no meaningful checks or balances.

Today, the country in in the midst of its most intense and significant protests against that monarch in recent history. The monarchy’s response was violent, with many protesters killed and disappeared. The internet was shut down for over a week. Many of the protest leaders are now in hiding, even as pro-democracy protests continue.

On the line with me from Harare, Zimbabwe is journalist Mako Muzenda. We kick off with a discussion of the nature of Eswatini’s monarchy before having a broader discussion about these unprecedented protests.

If you have 20 minutes and want to understand why ongoing pro-democracy protests in Eswatini are of global importance, have a listen.

 

Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post A Crisis Mounts in Africa’s Only Absolute Monarchy, Eswatini (Formerly Known As Swaziland) appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

UNICEF Chief Henrietta Fore, An Appreciation

15. Juli 2021 - 1:05

UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore announced her plan to step down from a post in which she has served since January 2018, in order to care for her ill spouse.

With a heavy heart, I have informed the UN Secretary-General and our Executive Board President of my decision to step down as UNICEF Executive Director in order to devote my energy to my husband’s serious health issue.

— Henrietta H. Fore (@unicefchief) July 13, 2021

 

UNICEF is the best known and most prestigious UN Agency.

It has been called “The Heart of the United Nations” — and for good reason: It has a mandate to support the health, development and safety of children around the world. In the 1980s and early 1990s, UNICEF was lead by James Grant, who used his position to champion the widespread adoption childhood vaccinations in poorer countries. This effort ushered in what is known as the “child survival revolution” which lead to a dramatic decline in childhood mortality worldwide.

Henrietta Fore was the eighth executive director of UNICEF and, like all those before her an American.  (By convention and by the dictates of international politics, the head of UNICEF has always been an American. Among other reasons: The United States is the top funder to UNICEF).

Like her predecessor at UNICEF Anthony Lake  — who served as Bill Clinton’s former National Security Advisor —  she was someone who had successfully navigated a career in partisan policy circles. Her career in government and later at the United Nations was directly attached to the success of the Republican party winning national elections. She served as George W. Bush’s head of USAID and before that, George W. Bush’s Director of the United States Mint. When Anthony Lake’s term expired in 2018, Donald Trump recommended her as the US nominee for the post.

Just a few months after Henrietta Fore took office as executive director of UNICEF, the administration that installed her at UNICEF began a policy of systematically separating children from their parents at the southern US Border, and caging those children in inhumane, inhospitable conditions.

It was unknown whether or not a recently appointed former Republican official would respond to this affront in any meaningful way. It is generally rare for a senior UN official in her position to publicly criticize the United States — let alone for an American UN official of the same political affiliation as the government to do so.

Yet, to her enduring credit, Henrietta Fore did just that.

“Detention and family separation are traumatic experiences that can leave children more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and can create toxic stress which, as multiple studies have shown, can impact children’s long-term development,” she said in an official statement. “Such practices are in no one’s best interests, least of all the children who most suffer their effects. The welfare of children is the most important consideration. For decades, the U.S. Government and its people have supported our efforts to help child refugees, asylum seekers and migrants affected by crises across the globe. Whether it be war in Syria or South Sudan, famine in Somalia, or an earthquake in Haiti, the U.S. has been there to help, and take in, uprooted children.”

After visiting the border the next year, she was even more direct in her condemnation of the Trump administration. “It’s hard to fathom this happening in a country with such a rich history as a champion for children in need around the world, particularly for those uprooted from their homes and communities by crisis,” she said in an official statement. “By any measure, these ARE children in need – I have met them.”

Henrietta Fore will have been the shortest serving UNICEF executive director. But by this action she helped to cement UNICEF’s reputation as an ecumenical champion for children — and her own reputation as an upstander who willfully defied the depraved actions of her own government.

The post UNICEF Chief Henrietta Fore, An Appreciation appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Colombia is Rocked By The Biggest Protests In Recent Memory

12. Juli 2021 - 17:26

Colombia has been rocked by the most significant protests in recent memory. In late April and May Colombians took to the streets across the country initially to protest a proposed new tax law. But what began as a protest against this new tax bill swiftly morphed into a broad based protest movement against systemic inequality.

Colombia is one of the most unequal countries in the world and these protests are seeking to upend the political system that has entrenched this inequality in Colombian society.

I caught up with my guest today Elizabeth Dickinson of the International Crisis Group, from Bogota. We kick off discussing how and why these protests began and spread so quickly throughout the country. She also explains how the legacy of the decades long civil war between the government of Colombia and the left wing FARC rebel group and the peace deal that was signed five years ago has shaped the public’s response to this protest movement.

 

Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post Colombia is Rocked By The Biggest Protests In Recent Memory appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Assassination of The President of Haiti Jovenal Moise and What’s Next For Haiti? (Podcast)

8. Juli 2021 - 16:41

In the early morning hours of July 7th, unknown assailants assassinated the President of Haiti Jovenal Moise.

Haiti was already facing an uncertain political future. And now, the line of succession is not at all clear.

Journalist Jonathan Myerson Katz explains the tumultuous political context in which this audacious assassination occurred and what the assassination of the president means for the future of Haiti.

If you have 20 minutes and want to better understand the significance of the shocking assassination of Haitian president Jovenal Moise, have a listen.

 

Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

 

 

The post The Assassination of The President of Haiti Jovenal Moise and What’s Next For Haiti? (Podcast) appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Crisis in Syria is at a Major Turning Point

1. Juli 2021 - 17:37

The crisis in Syria is at a crossroads.

This is not because the underlying dynamics of the conflict have changed in any big way. As it has been for the last couple years, the Syrian government has regained control over most of the country — with the exception of parts of northern Syria near the border with Turkey. This includes much of the Idlib province, where a stalemate in the fighting endures.

Rather, what makes this such a perilous moment in the 10 year history of the Syria conflict is that the millions of people trapped in Idlib may soon face a near complete cutoff of the humanitarian aid upon which they rely.

Since 2014, the United Nations has mounted a massive humanitarian relief operation to serve people trapped in rebel held areas. The United Nations and international aid agencies have so far been able to deliver aid directly to besieged populations in Northern Syria via Turkey because of a Security Council resolution authorizing the cross border delivery of aid, even if the government of Syria objects. (Normally humanitarian relief operations require — for both practical and legal reasons — the consent of the government on whose territory aid is being delivered. But back in 2014, with millions of people displaced in areas outside of government control, and with the government refusing to let aid agencies operate in those areas, the Security Council made legal the ostensible violation of Syrian territorial sovereignty in order to enable the cross border delivery of aid.)

That was 2014. And that system worked for a while. But over the past 18 months the government of Russia has begun to object to this cross border aid delivery to the point where Moscow has used its veto power at the Security Council to force all but one remaining border crossing to close to international aid.

Today, we are facing a potential turning point in the crisis in Syria because Russia has signaled that it intends to veto a Security Council resolution allowing that last remaining border crossing to stay open. Unless an agreement is reached that border crossing will close on July 10, cutting off the last lifeline for millions of people in Idlib. A humanitarian calamity will follow.

On the line with me to discuss this situation is Vanessa Jackson, UN Representative and Head of Office for CARE International at the United Nations.  CARE is a large international humanitarian organization that currently serves populations in Idlib through this last remaining border crossing. In our conversation we discuss the current humanitarian situation in Syria, and the dynamics around the ongoing debate on the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria.

 

 

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The post The Crisis in Syria is at a Major Turning Point appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Crisis in Syria is at a Major Turning Point

1. Juli 2021 - 17:37

The crisis in Syria is at a crossroads.

This is not because the underlying dynamics of the conflict have changed in any big way. As it has been for the last couple years, the Syrian government has regained control over most of the country — with the exception of parts of northern Syria near the border with Turkey. This includes much of the Idlib province, where a stalemate in the fighting endures.

Rather, what makes this such a perilous moment in the 10 year history of the Syria conflict is that the millions of people trapped in Idlib may soon face a near complete cutoff of the humanitarian aid upon which they rely.

Since 2014, the United Nations has mounted a massive humanitarian relief operation to serve people trapped in rebel held areas. The United Nations and international aid agencies have so far been able to deliver aid directly to besieged populations in Northern Syria via Turkey because of a Security Council resolution authorizing the cross border delivery of aid, even if the government of Syria objects. (Normally humanitarian relief operations require — for both practical and legal reasons — the consent of the government on whose territory aid is being delivered. But back in 2014, with millions of people displaced in areas outside of government control, and with the government refusing to let aid agencies operate in those areas, the Security Council made legal the ostensible violation of Syrian territorial sovereignty in order to enable the cross border delivery of aid.)

That was 2014. And that system worked for a while. But over the past 18 months the government of Russia has begun to object to this cross border aid delivery to the point where Moscow has used its veto power at the Security Council to force all but one remaining border crossing to close to international aid.

Today, we are facing a potential turning point in the crisis in Syria because Russia has signaled that it intends to veto a Security Council resolution allowing that last remaining border crossing to stay open. Unless an agreement is reached that border crossing will close on July 10, cutting off the last lifeline for millions of people in Idlib. A humanitarian calamity will follow.

On the line with me to discuss this situation is Vanessa Jackson, UN Representative and Head of Office for CARE International at the United Nations.  CARE is a large international humanitarian organization that currently serves populations in Idlib through this last remaining border crossing. In our conversation we discuss the current humanitarian situation in Syria, and the dynamics around the ongoing debate on the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria.

 

 

Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post The Crisis in Syria is at a Major Turning Point appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What To Expect From the UN’s Generation Equality Forum On Gender Equality

29. Juni 2021 - 15:05

On Wednesday, tens of thousands of people from around the world will gather in Paris and online for UN Women’s Generation Equality Forum to kick off five years of action toward gender equality.

According to organizers, the Forum is the “most significant global feminist movement since 1995, when leaders gathered in Beijing to launch the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.” Co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, the three-day event will address the gaps from the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, slow progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality), the rest of the SDGs and new challenges created by the pandemic.

“What we’re trying to do…is to say, ‘Enough! Gender equality can’t wait. It’s not a sideline issue, it’s actually at the heart of achieving global equality, sustainable economies and peaceful and prosperous societies,’” Michelle Milford Morse, Vice President for Girls and Women Strategy at the UN Foundation, said at a media event.

The June 30 to July 2 event was supposed to take place last year, but was postponed because of the pandemic. It was preceded in March by a kickoff event in Mexico City.

Generation Equality Hopes To Do For Gender Equality What the Paris Climate Agreement Did For Climate Diplomacy

The Generation Equality Forum is inspired by the Paris Agreement. It will get government leaders, intergovernmental agencies, philanthropies, the private sector, and civil society to make bold commitments toward gender equality over the next five years. Those commitments include policy, budget and legal changes, the implementation of new, groundbreaking programs, and – perhaps most importantly – financial commitments.

Milford Morse says that gender equality has been “historically and dramatically underfunded for years.” And lack of funding, according to Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, is a big reason why the world has struggled to implement the aims that were adopted in Beijing 26 years ago.

As of two weeks ago, stakeholders have made more than 1,000 substantive commitments, Mlambo-Ngcuka said at the media event, and organizers expect the financial pledges to exceed $1 billion.

Presentations and discussions at the Generation Equality Forum will also form a “blueprint” that lays out exactly how the world can achieve SDG 5 and the Platform for Action that was adopted at the Beijing conference. Those discussions will center on six “action coalitions,” addressing gender-based violence, economic justice and rights, feminist action for climate justice, feminist movements and leadership, bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights, and technology and innovation for gender equality.

Additionally, youth activists and voices will be prominently featured at the Generation Equality Forum.

“We called it Generation Equality, because we figured this is the generation that has to make the changes that need to happen. From the oldest person to the youngest person, we are all in this thing together,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said. “But we particularly need to position young people at the center of this, because they have the possibility to walk much faster and much further than all of us.”

The Forum will launch on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. with an in-person and livestreamed opening ceremony in Paris. Up to 250 guests will attend the ceremony, including heads of state, government and UN agencies, private sector representatives and civil society leaders. That will be followed by two and a half days of virtual programming, including nearly 100 events with around 800 speakers from all regions and sectors.

As of two weeks ago, 20,000 people were already registered for the event. The organizers are hoping for at least 50,000 registrants.

“[The Forum is] a once-in-a-decade opportunity to gather the world to finally push for progress that we need on gender equality, to revitalize the global women’s movement, and to set us on a course toward something fairer and better for all of humankind,” said Milford Morse.

The post What To Expect From the UN’s Generation Equality Forum On Gender Equality appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What To Expect From the UN’s Generation Equality Forum On Gender Equality

29. Juni 2021 - 15:05

On Wednesday, tens of thousands of people from around the world will gather in Paris and online for UN Women’s Generation Equality Forum to kick off five years of action toward gender equality.

According to organizers, the Forum is the “most significant global feminist movement since 1995, when leaders gathered in Beijing to launch the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.” Co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, the three-day event will address the gaps from the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, slow progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality), the rest of the SDGs and new challenges created by the pandemic.

“What we’re trying to do…is to say, ‘Enough! Gender equality can’t wait. It’s not a sideline issue, it’s actually at the heart of achieving global equality, sustainable economies and peaceful and prosperous societies,’” Michelle Milford Morse, Vice President for Girls and Women Strategy at the UN Foundation, said at a media event.

The June 30 to July 2 event was supposed to take place last year, but was postponed because of the pandemic. It was preceded in March by a kickoff event in Mexico City.

Generation Equality Hopes To Do For Gender Equality What the Paris Climate Agreement Did For Climate Diplomacy

The Generation Equality Forum is inspired by the Paris Agreement. It will get government leaders, intergovernmental agencies, philanthropies, the private sector, and civil society to make bold commitments toward gender equality over the next five years. Those commitments include policy, budget and legal changes, the implementation of new, groundbreaking programs, and – perhaps most importantly – financial commitments.

Milford Morse says that gender equality has been “historically and dramatically underfunded for years.” And lack of funding, according to Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, is a big reason why the world has struggled to implement the aims that were adopted in Beijing 26 years ago.

As of two weeks ago, stakeholders have made more than 1,000 substantive commitments, Mlambo-Ngcuka said at the media event, and organizers expect the financial pledges to exceed $1 billion.

Presentations and discussions at the Generation Equality Forum will also form a “blueprint” that lays out exactly how the world can achieve SDG 5 and the Platform for Action that was adopted at the Beijing conference. Those discussions will center on six “action coalitions,” addressing gender-based violence, economic justice and rights, feminist action for climate justice, feminist movements and leadership, bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights, and technology and innovation for gender equality.

Additionally, youth activists and voices will be prominently featured at the Generation Equality Forum.

“We called it Generation Equality, because we figured this is the generation that has to make the changes that need to happen. From the oldest person to the youngest person, we are all in this thing together,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said. “But we particularly need to position young people at the center of this, because they have the possibility to walk much faster and much further than all of us.”

The Forum will launch on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. with an in-person and livestreamed opening ceremony in Paris. Up to 250 guests will attend the ceremony, including heads of state, government and UN agencies, private sector representatives and civil society leaders. That will be followed by two and a half days of virtual programming, including nearly 100 events with around 800 speakers from all regions and sectors.

As of two weeks ago, 20,000 people were already registered for the event. The organizers are hoping for at least 50,000 registrants.

“[The Forum is] a once-in-a-decade opportunity to gather the world to finally push for progress that we need on gender equality, to revitalize the global women’s movement, and to set us on a course toward something fairer and better for all of humankind,” said Milford Morse.

The post What To Expect From the UN’s Generation Equality Forum On Gender Equality appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What Will Antonio Guterres Do In His Second Term As United Nations Secretary General?

28. Juni 2021 - 17:08

On June 18th, Antonio Guterres was re-appointed United Nations Secretary General for a second and final five year term. Prior to serving as Secretary General since 2017, Guterres was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and also a long serving Prime Minister of Portugal.  Guterres was re-nominated by the Security Council and formally elected by the General Assembly without facing any significant challengers.

Given the re-appointment of Guterres I thought this would be a good time to both look back at the highlights and lowlights of his first term and sketch out some of the key challenges and opportunities that will present themselves over the next five years. And on the line with me to discuss all this and more is Richard Gowan, the UN Director of the International Crisis Group and a frequent guest of this podcast.

We kick off with a discussion of some of Guterres successes and failures since 2017 before having a forward looking conversation about what lies ahead for the Secretary General as he begins his second term.

 

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The post What Will Antonio Guterres Do In His Second Term As United Nations Secretary General? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What Will Antonio Guterres Do In His Second Term As United Nations Secretary General?

28. Juni 2021 - 17:08

On June 18th, Antonio Guterres was re-appointed United Nations Secretary General for a second and final five year term. Prior to serving as Secretary General since 2017, Guterres was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and also a long serving Prime Minister of Portugal.  Guterres was re-nominated by the Security Council and formally elected by the General Assembly without facing any significant challengers.

Given the re-appointment of Guterres I thought this would be a good time to both look back at the highlights and lowlights of his first term and sketch out some of the key challenges and opportunities that will present themselves over the next five years. And on the line with me to discuss all this and more is Richard Gowan, the UN Director of the International Crisis Group and a frequent guest of this podcast.

We kick off with a discussion of some of Guterres successes and failures since 2017 before having a forward looking conversation about what lies ahead for the Secretary General as he begins his second term.

 

Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

 

The post What Will Antonio Guterres Do In His Second Term As United Nations Secretary General? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Climate Induced Migration is Poised to Sharply Increase. Does Climate Migration Pose A Security Threat?

24. Juni 2021 - 19:44

Climate variability is causing massive numbers of people around the world to move — both across borders and within borders. And as climate variability intensifies, we can probably expect more and more people on the move. But what relationship — if at all — does climate induced migration have with security? Is it a threat to  human security and political security? Is climate induced migration a driver of conflict? And what can be done to reduce the impact of climate induced migration on security?

To answer these questions and more we have assembled an excellent panel for this special episode of  the Global Dispatches Podcast, taped live.

 Joining from Ethiopia is Maureen Achieng, Chief of Mission to Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union and UN Economic Commission for Africa at the  International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Joining from France is Bina Desai, Head of Programs at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre 

Joining us from the US is Alan de Brauw, Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute IFPRI.  

 

Produced in partnership with CGIAR as part of a series of episodes examining the relationship between climate and security. 

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post Climate Induced Migration is Poised to Sharply Increase. Does Climate Migration Pose A Security Threat? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Climate Induced Migration is Poised to Sharply Increase. Does Climate Migration Pose A Security Threat?

24. Juni 2021 - 19:44

Climate variability is causing massive numbers of people around the world to move — both across borders and within borders. And as climate variability intensifies, we can probably expect more and more people on the move. But what relationship — if at all — does climate induced migration have with security? Is it a threat to  human security and political security? Is climate induced migration a driver of conflict? And what can be done to reduce the impact of climate induced migration on security?

To answer these questions and more we have assembled an excellent panel for this special episode of  the Global Dispatches Podcast, taped live.

 Joining from Ethiopia is Maureen Achieng, Chief of Mission to Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union and UN Economic Commission for Africa at the  International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Joining from France is Bina Desai, Head of Programs at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre 

Joining us from the US is Alan de Brauw, Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute IFPRI.  

 

Produced in partnership with CGIAR as part of a series of episodes examining the relationship between climate and security. 

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post Climate Induced Migration is Poised to Sharply Increase. Does Climate Migration Pose A Security Threat? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

In Sri Lanka, The COVID Response is Exacerbating Religious and Ethnic Tensions

22. Juni 2021 - 17:28

In May 2009, the long running civil war in Sri Lanka ended with the defeat of ethnic Tamil insurgents by the Sinhalese dominated Sri Lankan armed forces.

The manner of this defeat was a mass atrocity event.

Tens of thousands of ethnic tamils were trapped in a thin stretch of land as the military bombarded the area. Since then there has been no accountability for the atrocity crimes committed, nor has there been any meaningful post-conflict peace and reconciliation efforts. In fact, many of those most directly involved in this atrocity are now the most senior political leaders of the country, including the president of the Sri Lanka, Gotobaya Rajapaksa.

Research has demonstrated that countries are more vulnerable to atrocity crimes if there is a recent history of atrocity and now real peace or reconciliation efforts. As my guest today J.S. Tissainaygam (Tissa) explains, this is certainly the case in Sri Lanka. Tissa is a journalist who recently reported a story examining how the government of Sri Lanka is responding to the COVID-19 crisis in ways that have deliberately exacerbated ethnic and religious tensions in Sri Lanka in a bid to assert Sinhalese dominance over ethnic minorities.

 

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

This episode is produced in partnership with the Stanley Center for Peace and Security whose project “Red Flags or Resilience?” examines COVID-19’s impact on atrocity risks.  The project uses journalism to explore the connections between the coronavirus pandemic and the factors for risk and resilience to mass violence and atrocities around the world. You can view Tissa’s article in Sri Lanka and other works of journalism as they are published by visiting resilience.stanleycenter.org.

The post In Sri Lanka, The COVID Response is Exacerbating Religious and Ethnic Tensions appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

In Sri Lanka, The COVID Response is Exacerbating Religious and Ethnic Tensions

22. Juni 2021 - 17:28
In May 2009, the long running civil war in Sri Lanka ended with the defeat of ethnic Tamil insurgents by the Sinhalese dominated Sri Lankan armed forces. The manner of this defeat was a mass atrocity event. Tens of thousands of ethnic tamils were trapped in a thin stretch of land as the military bombarded the area. Since then there has been no accountability for the atrocity crimes committed, nor has there been any meaningful post-conflict peace and reconciliation efforts. In fact, many of those most directly involved in this atrocity are now the most senior political leaders of the country, including the president of the Sri Lanka, Gotobaya Rajapaksa. Research has demonstrated that countries are more vulnerable to atrocity crimes if there is a recent history of atrocity and now real peace or reconciliation efforts. As my guest today J.S. Tissainaygam (Tissa) explains, this is certainly the case in Sri Lanka. Tissa is a journalist who recently reported a story examining how the government of Sri Lanka is responding to the COVID-19 crisis in ways that have deliberately exacerbated ethnic and religious tensions in Sri Lanka in a bid to assert Sinhalese dominance over ethnic minorities.   Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public This episode is produced in partnership with the Stanley Center for Peace and Security whose project “Red Flags or Resilience?” examines COVID-19’s impact on atrocity risks.  The project uses journalism to explore the connections between the coronavirus pandemic and the factors for risk and resilience to mass violence and atrocities around the world. You can view Tissa’s article in Sri Lanka and other works of journalism as they are published by visiting resilience.stanleycenter.org.

The post In Sri Lanka, The COVID Response is Exacerbating Religious and Ethnic Tensions appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Famine in Ethiopia as the Tigray Conflict Worsens

17. Juni 2021 - 21:02

On June 16th, the UN’s top humanitarian official Mark Lowcock told members of the security council that there is famine in the Ethiopian region of Tigray. Some 350,000 people in Tigray are living in famine conditions with millions more at risk. “We are at a tipping point” Lowcock said.

So far, the urgent appeals from the humanitarian community have not been met with commensurate action by the key players in Tigray, including the Ethiopian government. Since November 2020, the federal government of Ethiopia, backed by troops in neighboring Eritrea, have fought a war against the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, the TPLF. The TPLF is the dominant political force in Tigray region, but for decades, the TPLF was the dominant political party in the federal government as well.

That was until Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018 and effectively sidelined the TPLF. As my guest today Zecharias Zelalem explains, unresolved conflict between the TPLF and the federal government is what lead to the outbreak of civil war.

Zecharias Zelalem is a freelance journalist and contributor to Al Jazeera and The Telegraph, among other outlets. We kick off with a discussion about the circumstances that lead to the outbreak of war in November 2020. This includes the delaying of national elections last summer, ostensibly due to COVID. Those delayed elections are now scheduled for June 21, just a few days from now. We discuss the implications of the elections for the trajectory of conflict in Ethiopia.

By all accounts, the situation in Tigray is extremely grim and about to get much worse. This conversation does a good job of examining how we go to this point.

 

Transcript

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:00:03] Welcome to Global Dispatches, a podcast for the international affairs, foreign policy, global development communities, and anyone interested in a deeper understanding of the world today. I’m your host, Mark Leon Goldberg, Editor of U.N. Dispatch. Enjoy the show. 

[00:00:25] On June 16th, the UN’s top humanitarian official, Mark Lowcock, told members of the Security Council that there is famine in parts of the Ethiopian region of Tigray. Some 350,000 people in Tigray are living in famine conditions with millions more at risk. “We are at a tipping point,” Lowcock said. So far, the urgent appeals from the humanitarian community have not been met with commensurate action by key players in Tigray, including the Ethiopian government. Since November 2020, the federal government of Ethiopia, backed by troops in neighboring Eritrea, have fought a war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the TPLF. The TPLF is the dominant political force in the Tigray region but for decades the TPLF was the dominant political party in the federal government as well. That was until Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018 and effectively sidelined the TPLF. 

[00:01:43] As my guest today, Zecharias Zelalem explains, unresolved conflict between the TPLF and the Abiy Ahmed-led government is what led to the outbreak of civil war. Zecharias Zelalem is a freelance journalist and contributor to Al-Jazeera and the Telegraph, among other outlets. We kick off with a discussion about these circumstances that led to the outbreak of war in November 2020. This includes the delaying of national elections last Summer, ostensibly due to Covid. Those delayed elections are now scheduled for June 21st, 2021, which is just a few days from now. And we do discuss the implications of the elections for the trajectory of the conflict in Ethiopia. 

[00:02:35] By all accounts, the situation in Tigray is extremely grim and about to get much worse. This conversation, though, does a good job of explaining how we got to this point. Today’s episode is supported in part through a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to showcase African voices discussing peace and security issues in Africa. To access other episodes in this series, please visit GlobalDispatchesPodcast.com. And now, here is my conversation with journalist Zecharias Zelalem. 

How Did The Civil War in Ethiopia Begin?

Zecharias Zelalem [00:03:16] In November of last year, we saw the break out of hostilities in Tigray between the then-Tigray regional government led by the TPLF, or the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and the federal government in Addis Ababa. That led to the breaking out of the brutal civil war that has resulted in the deaths of thousands and the displacement of millions, as well as systemic starvation across the region. But the break out of hostilities was actually the culmination of two years of worsening hostilities between the regional and federal governments and an inability by representatives of both governments to solve their many underlying issues amicably or through roundtable talks, resulted in the ongoing conflict that we see today. So on November 4th, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that TPLF forces, Tigrayan regional government forces, had attacked federal army bases in the region and he used that as a pretext to launch an invasion of the region backed by troops from neighboring Eritrea. There is evidence, however, that points to the war being planned in advance. And as I said, this is really the result of years of worsening tensions. And we’re bearing the unfortunate fruits of it -mass rape, massacres, all sorts of human rights violations. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:04:52] So we are speaking just ahead of scheduled national elections that were delayed. And I’m interested to learn from you what role delaying the elections back in 2020 might have had in contributing to this conflict? Or what factor did the fact that the Ethiopian government delayed elections, I believe in the summer of 2020, to the outbreak of conflict in November 2020? 

Elections in Ethiopia and the impact on the Ethiopia Civil War and Tigray Conflict

Zecharias Zelalem [00:05:25] So when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was ushered into power on the back of popular uprisings in 2018, he had pledged to oversee a transitional government that would pave things for the preparation of Ethiopia’s first-ever free and fair elections. It would be a historic first for Ethiopians. In preparation for this, all sorts of political organizations that had been previously outlawed were decriminalized. Exiled politicians and activists were invited back into the country to take part in, I guess, what was the fledgling democratic process. And there was some reason to be optimistic at the time. 

[00:06:19] That was in 2018. As things gradually went by, there had been the very slow but noticeable closing up of the political space and setbacks with regards to Ethiopia’s democracy. Suddenly, politicians and members of the opposition that had been freed from prison were being rearrested. There was a clampdown on independent media outlets and this took a very ugly turn for the worse in 2020 when a very famous activist and popular Oromo musician by the name of Hachalu Hundessa, was murdered on June 29th. Following the murder -which Ethiopian forces blamed on members of the political opposition- there were mass arrests of members of the opposition, as well as outspoken critical voices. 

[00:07:17] And one of the reasons why there had been worsening tensions between members of Ethiopia’s political opposition was because of the government’s announcement that it would postpone elections, citing the Covid-19 pandemic. And most of the political opposition that had reestablished themselves in Ethiopia had done so with the promise that there would be elections scheduled for no later than August 2020. So a lot of them took issue with the decision to postpone the polls and saw them as Abiy, I guess, not remaining firm to his own word. And it also turned a significant section of the Ethiopian population against the Ethiopian government and had many doubting the sincerity of Ethiopia as a democratic -or the Ethiopian government’s democratic aspirations. But the Tigray regional government, it went a step further and announced that despite the announcement by the Ethiopian Parliament that polls would be postponed, that it would go ahead anyway and hold its own regional government elections. So these polls were not recognized by the Addis Ababa-based National Ethiopian Election Board. And it really worsened tensions to the point of no return between the federal government and the regional government in Tigray. The TPLF ended up winning the election in a landslide. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:08:55] Not surprisingly.

Zecharias Zelalem [00:08:57] Yeah, not surprisingly, the TPLF prior to their being ousted from Addis Ababa, they were at the helm of government in Ethiopia for about three decades. In which time period, they held about four or five general elections, none of which were ever considered free and fair by observers. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:09:16] It just may be worth noting and worth pointing out that, as you said, for three decades, the TPLF was the dominant political party of the coalition that ran the government of Ethiopia until Abiy Ahmed came to power. 

Zecharias Zelalem [00:09:32] Precisely. The way the EPRDF coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front -that was composed of multiple political parties- was, in truth, dominated by a single party, the TPLF, run by Tigrayan elites. So this monopoly of sorts of government led to the break out of protests, which ultimately resulted in Abiy coming to power in 2018. But eventually, in Tigray with the holding of rogue elections, it really highlighted the fragile nature of government in Addis Ababa. And I guess for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, it was the point of no return. And within months of those polls, both the Tigrayan regional government and the Addis Ababa-based federal government announced that they would not recognize the other. Push eventually led to shove and we saw on November 4th the break out of the ongoing civil war that is now seven months and counting. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:10:44] Could you describe the trajectory of that civil war over the course of the last seven months and explain where things stand today?

Zecharias Zelalem [00:10:56]  So for the initial months of the war, the region’s communications were severed. So with no phone and no Internet access, it was really impossible to authenticate some of the accounts, including some of the very harrowing accounts that were coming from the region. In most modern-day coverage of war, you will receive updates -timely updates of which warring faction is in charge or who has taken control of this town, or who has suffered battleground defeats. There was nothing of the sort for months due to the fact that journalists and aid workers were prohibited from reaching the region. And all that journalists had to rely on were accounts from refugees who had fled Ethiopia to neighboring Sudan. So by the time Ethiopian forces captured the Tigrayan capital of Mekele -about three weeks or so into the war- we were unable to verify accounts, for instance, that Eritrean soldiers were involved -something that we would only learn of months later. 

[00:12:09] We were unable to verify mounting accounts of atrocities committed by all sides other than the November 9th Mai Kadra massacre. We were unable to verify reports of abuses against civilians -rape, looting of property- a lot of these remained allegations and it was impossible to investigate. After November 28th, after the capture of Mekele, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced a victory and he also announced that the war had ended and a phase of rebuilding the region would begin. An interim administration was established in Tigray and the regional government was ousted, officially. However, it is obviously clear to any observer at this point that hostilities never ended. 

[00:13:11] The TPLF -the Tigray regional government, despite being ousted from its capital city, has transitioned to guerrilla warfare and has been engaged in an insurgency targeting Ethiopian forces as well as allied troops from neighboring Eritrea. And over the course of the past four or five months since the capture of Mekele, fighting has intensified and so have atrocities which we’ve since been able to verify using an array of techniques -the use of satellite imagery, smuggled video and photo evidence that we’ve been able to locate to specific areas in the region. Journalists from major media outlets around the world have been able to paint a very grim but very accurate picture of a war in which state forces are meeting punitive action out against the civilian population in Tigray. And by the time April and May came about, it was very clear the nature of the conflict had become very evident for even the major diplomatic players of the world. And the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments have since come under mounting pressure to cease attacks against civilians, to hold their own troops and commanders to account, and to allow access to the region for NGOs and international aid workers to address the very dire -extremely dire humanitarian crisis in the region which has led to something like 90 percent of Tigrayans needing emergency food aid. So at this moment, it is as grim as it gets. 

Famine Looms in Ethiopia

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:15:21] So on that last point- we’re speaking a day after the top UN humanitarian official, Mark Lowcock, addressed members of the UN Security Council, saying that there is famine, ongoing, in parts of Tigray and that it is caused, in part, by Eritrean troops refusing food access and humanitarian access to the population. Can you discuss and explain the role of Eritrean troops in what is otherwise a civil war? I get that, for example, the TPLF, the ruling party of Tigray for many years -that ruled Ethiopia for many years- is an avowed enemy of Eritrea and that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as one of his early moves, sought to make peace with Eritrea. So now, it seems that Eritrean troops are exacting their revenge on their long foe, the Tigrayans, but are doing so in a way specifically designed to inflict harm on the Tigrayan people. 

Zecharias Zelalem [00:16:36] Yeah, as you pointed out towards the end right there, the Eritrean government has been a foe of the former Tigrayan regional government for years. It dates back to the 1998-2000 Ethiopian-Eritrean Border War in which the then-TPLF-led Ethiopian government fell out with the Eritrean government and then engaged in the very destructive war that led to something like 70,000 people dying. So the two sides have never really reconciled. And Abiy Ahmed coming to power led to the eventual reestablishment of ties between Ethiopian and Eritrean and governments. However, it did not lead to any sort of warming up -sincere warming up- between the TPLF who had by then retreated to Mekele and the Eritrean government. So it was always in the Eritrean government’s interests to see the TPLF be ousted from influence in the region. And it is what’s behind the Eritrean government’s eventual deployment of troops to Ethiopia. 

[00:17:58] Remember that the Eritrean government’s presence -the Eritrean military’s presence in Tigray-was denied for months by both Asmara and Addis Ababa. Finally, after mounting evidence and after it became impossible to conceal any longer -it was only in March, something like five months into the war- that Ethiopia’s prime minister finally admitted to their presence in the region. But shortly after, he also stated that they would be withdrawing and that their withdrawal had begun with immediate effect. Some three months or so since that statement, Eritrean troops remain firmly entrenched across Tigray. There’s no sign of any of them withdrawing. And they are actually playing a very detrimental role with regards to the region’s humanitarian initiative. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:19:05] I mean, from my perspective, covering the UN for many years, it’s actually quite rare for a senior UN official to so directly call out a UN member state for such harmful action and saying that Eritrean troops are causing famine in Ethiopia right now. Now, Eritrea is sort of something of a rogue state. It doesn’t have many international allies, but it is still notable that the senior UN humanitarian official said such a thing in such a direct way. 

Zecharias Zelalem [00:19:40] Well, it’s definitely a break away from their modus operandi -I guess the UN’s modus operandi in recent months. Not many people are aware of this, but the UN was actually able to establish without any doubt that Eritrean soldiers were in Tigray by December. This was due to an incident on December 7th outside of a UNHCR refugee camp in Tigray in which UN staff driving towards the camp were shot at by troops manning a checkpoint just outside of the refugee camp. At the time, the Ethiopian government told media outlets that it was its forces behind the shooting and they blamed UN staff for encroaching in areas that they were prohibited from accessing. But what is known is that those were actually Eritrean troops who had fired upon UN staff. And for some reason, the UN staff never shared this bit of information with the rest of the world. It took maybe another month and a half for international journalists to firmly established that Eritrean soldiers were in the region. 

[00:21:02] So there’s been a bit of a reluctance on behalf of the UN to really call out some of the warring factions. There were two UNHCR camps, the Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps, which were raised to the ground by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops between December and January, something that’s been verified by multiple media outlets. And this has not been adequately addressed, at least publicly, by the UN. So it could be perhaps a fear of losing the very limited access they have to the region or politics or whatever the case. Even the very recent news reports which put the tally of Tigrayans needing food aid at something like 90 percent of the population -they were leaked to the public by journalists, by Reuters- not something that the UN formally announced until and until journalists had published stories on it. So there’s definitely been a sort of dillydallying of sorts by the UN with regards to concrete action. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:22:21] And it’s something that the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas Greenfield, it seems was somewhat exasperated about. I think she said, “do African lives not matter?” When the Security Council has, so far, refused to hold a formal session on this issue owing to divisions at the Security Council -principally China and Russia- sort of still considering this to be an internal issue and not something that would rise to be an issue of international peace and security. So I wanted to have you speak a bit about the upcoming elections. 

[00:22:59] You know, by the time people listen to this, the elections probably will have already been started on June 21st. It seems like just an incredibly fraught situation. As I understand it, about one-fifth of the seats that are to be elected are not even holding elections because of conflict. And then you have a number of opposition parties that are just boycotting it. So this does seem to be just a very deeply problematic event that will unfold. 

Zecharias Zelalem [00:23:30] Yes, unfortunately with under a week to go, there are no signs that Ethiopians will have the credible, transparent, free, and fair elections that they had been promised in 2018. As you rightfully pointed out, a number of opposition parties, including parties that were slated to provide the ruling party with the stiffest challenge at the polls, have been systematically excluded. Those that are set to boycott the elections are doing so principally because their leaders and many of their members have been detained for a little over a year now. And there’s also a very severe lack of representation with regard to the competing parties. 

[00:24:28] The grand majority of some of the parties with a noticeable amount of candidates will be based out of Addis Ababa. So these are Addis Ababa-based parties with their reach and their support bases in the capital city. Ethiopia is a country of about 110, between 110 to 120 million people, and the capital city holds less than five percent of that population. So for entire regions, such as the entire Oromia region, which is home to something like a third of Ethiopia’s population -to have no prominent political parties representing them, to have the Tigray region excluded from the elections, obviously due to the security situation, and then to have other regions such as the Somali region, to have their polls and their voting procedures postponed due to technicalities due to suspected voter fraud and other irregularities- well it definitely points to there being a very problematic nature with the upcoming polls. The lack of representation, of course, is the most pressing matter with regards to the election’s credibility. And as it stands, a single social demographic or social constituency, if you will, is set to be represented while most are excluded from the elections. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:26:22] I mean, the situation is being engineered to ensconce Abiy Ahmed in power. It’s abundantly clear this is not a free and fair election. 

Zecharias Zelalem [00:26:32] Well, the evidence definitely points to that. The fact that his major political opponents, those who stood the best, those who would have seriously challenged him, they remain behind bars. and they’ve been behind bars since June of last year. And they’re charged with a variety of trumped-up charges including treason, terrorism, and even involvement with the murder of the famous singer, Hachala Hundessa, last year. There’s been no evidence presented in court for any of these charges but they’ve been denied the chance to participate in these polls. There is one party, one Addis Ababa-based party known as the Balderas Party. Its leader, a press freedom advocate, Eskinder Nega, who’s been in prison for about a year now -a court has ruled that he would be able to take part in elections. He’d be able to run from prison, which is an unprecedented phenomenon. But, be that as it may, his party has still been forbidden from openly campaigning and obviously their leaders have been unable to address the public directly due to the fact that they remain incarcerated. So, yeah, this is unfortunately- 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:28:06] I didn’t realize that about Eskinder Nega. I mean, I recognize that name from his time as the jailed blogger during the previous Meles Zenawi era. And it just seems very telling that once in prison as being a social media blogger, now out of jail, now back in prison -it’s sort of like the trajectory of Ethiopia’s political freedom and politics as a whole over the last several years. 

Zecharias Zelalem [00:28:34] Yes. Eskinder Nega is among several political opposition leaders who were released and then rearrested. In fact, it was the releases of many of these leaders that had sparked so much optimism at the beginning of Abiy Ahmed’s rule in 2018. Tens of thousands of political prisoners are believed to have been released, and this contributed to Abiy Ahmed’s eventual winning of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. But be that as it may, it seems that old habits die hard and Eskinder Nega remains in prison, facing many of the same charges that he faced when he was detained during the era of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:29:24] Well, thank you so much for your time. This is obviously a distressing situation that is not poised to get much better in the near term. But I appreciate you helping me and the audience understand better what is going on and what is driving this conflict and its impact right now. 

Zecharias Zelalem [00:29:44] I appreciate you having me on. And I think I’d just like to point out that above all, at least in my case and in the case of many other journalists who’ve been covering these stories over the course of the past seven months, I think we owe it to the residents of Tigray and the residents of affected regions, those who are in the midst of grief and in the midst of traumatic experiences, who still managed to open up and share openly with journalists like myself and enabled us to cover the situation with accuracy. That’s it’s not an easy ask in the midst of a tough time like this and I think that I’d just like to pay tribute to that. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:30:29] Those concluding remarks actually make me curious to learn more about how you are able to conduct journalism, about what’s going on in the region. That, as you noted earlier, was just basically shut off and is still, to a large degree, shut off beyond the access of many humanitarian workers, beyond the access of journalists -so it’s your direct communication with people in the affected region that are helping you better understand what’s going on?

Zecharias Zelalem [00:30:59] Yes, over the course of the past seven months, we’ve been able to establish a network of contacts across the region and also around the world. Those who have been vital to me being connected to people in different towns and different cities. It is through this network that I’ve been able, to some extent, to be successful in establishing if certain atrocities were carried out or not. It’s through this network of contacts that I was able to obtain video, for instance, of atrocities that are smuggled out of Tigray due to the fact that there remains no Internet access across the region. And also, of course, there are those who are suffering and who have lost family members over the course of the past seven months, who, in the midst of their grieving, have entrusted me with their stories. And I guess my track record perhaps has convinced some that I might be right for that, for hearing their stories. And that’s quite an honor. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:32:12] Well, thank you. That useful and just say an interesting example of how a journalist abroad can, with some expertise, cover a fraught situation like this. 

Zecharias Zelalem [00:32:28] Well, it also helps that I am Ethiopian. A lot of them speak Amharic. So, you know, that obviously helps without a doubt. But it’s still difficult. And to be honest, I think we’ve only been able to cover perhaps the tip of the iceberg. And you really need to fully open up the region for there to be a more thorough picture. But we’ve done the best with what we can, I believe.

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:32:54] And I’ll point everyone to your Twitter feed as well, which is a vital resource for keeping up with what’s going on. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:33:04] Thank you. Thank you so much for your time. 

Zecharias Zelalem [00:33:06] No problem Mark. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:33:10] All right. Thank you all for listening. Thank you to Zecharias. And as I mentioned at the end of that conversation, I will post a link to his Twitter handle in the show notes of this episode. If you follow me at @MarkLGoldberg, you will also see me retweeting him often. And just one disclaimer before I let you go, that the views expressed in this episode belong solely to those of us who expressed those views. All right. We’ll see you next time. 

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Famine in Ethiopia as the Tigray Conflict Worsens

17. Juni 2021 - 21:02

On June 16th, the UN’s top humanitarian official Mark Lowcock told members of the security council that there is famine in the Ethiopian region of Tigray. Some 350,000 people in Tigray are living in famine conditions with millions more at risk. “We are at a tipping point” Lowcock said.

So far, the urgent appeals from the humanitarian community have not been met with commensurate action by the key players in Tigray, including the Ethiopian government. Since November 2020, the federal government of Ethiopia, backed by troops in neighboring Eritrea, have fought a war against the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, the TPLF. The TPLF is the dominant political force in Tigray region, but for decades, the TPLF was the dominant political party in the federal government as well.

That was until Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018 and effectively sidelined the TPLF. As my guest today Zecharias Zelalem explains, unresolved conflict between the TPLF and the federal government is what lead to the outbreak of civil war.

Zecharias Zelalem is a freelance journalist and contributor to Al Jazeera and The Telegraph, among other outlets. We kick off with a discussion about the circumstances that lead to the outbreak of war in November 2020. This includes the delaying of national elections last summer, ostensibly due to COVID. Those delayed elections are now scheduled for June 21, just a few days from now. We discuss the implications of the elections for the trajectory of conflict in Ethiopia.

By all accounts, the situation in Tigray is extremely grim and about to get much worse. This conversation does a good job of examining how we go to this point.

 

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The Ban Ki-moon Interview

14. Juni 2021 - 4:53

Ban Ki-moon served as the eighth secretary general of the United Nations from 2007 to 2016.  He is out with a new memoir titled Resolved: Uniting Nations in a Divided World.

The book gives his first-person account as the leader of the United Nations who navigates complex crises around the world, including Syria, Myanmar, Israel and Palestine, the West Africa ebola outbreak and much more.  He also offers his perspective and a behind-the-scenes account of some key UN successes during his tenure, including the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.

We cover quite a bit of ground in this interview, including his perspective on what the covid crisis revealed about the strengths and weaknesses of the United Nations, what can be done to bolster multilateralism today, his frustrations with the security council and advice he might offer to his successor Antonio Guterres. And of course, we spend a good deal of time talking climate change diplomacy, which was his signature issue as Secretary General.

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Transcript

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:01:55] Congratulations to you on the book. I highly recommend it for anyone who’s interested in the United Nations and international affairs. It’s an excellent read and I think a useful addition to the historic record. So thank you for writing it. 

Ban Ki-moon [00:02:15] Well, it is me who should thank you and the audience to listen to my stories. If I may say in just half a minute, why I have written this book is that this is about my life story and my philosophy for our future. I hope my memoir, Resolved: Uniting Nations in a Divided World, will spread my ideas and stories to the wide audience that is responsible for the world today and tomorrow. I just humbly wish that it will inspire possibility, spark actions, and improve your cooperation and ultimately encourage people around the world to become global citizens. I have been emphasizing the importance of global citizenship particularly among the world’s political leaders and business leaders. That is my main and humble purpose in writing this book. This is my first ever book written in my 76 years of life history. Thank you for your questions. 

How the United Nations Handled COVID

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:03:44] Well, I should just say, as a journalist who covered you for 10 years, I was just very pleasantly surprised with how candid you were in the course of the book. At many times during reading the book, I almost laughed out loud to myself when you would say something that you would never have uttered as Secretary-General or have gotten away with! So, again, thank you for writing a candid book. And I’d like to just kick off this conversation by asking you to reflect on the United Nation’s response to COVID. This is arguably, the single greatest shock to the international system since the advent of the UN, since World War II. And I’m curious to learn from you what this moment revealed to you about the UN system. And let’s start with strengths. What did COVID show you about the value of the UN in a global crisis like this? 

Ban Ki-moon [00:04:42] Coronavirus has, in fact, totally locked down the whole of our society. Never in the history, even during the Second World War -we have never been such a completly lock down all throughout the world. Almost a 220 countries, including 193 UN member states, are completely affected. Why is it so? Because we have been neglecting this climate action. This has a very close relationship because we have been neglecting and abusing the privilege which has been given by our nature. But what about then, United Nations? UN should have been working much more in close cooperation among the agencies. Now it has been given only to WHO. 

[00:05:48] Then United States on the president. Trump has withdrawn, criticizing the WHO and other agencies. So it was morally wrong and it was politically unwise. Look at the case of Ebola in 2014. When Ebola just spread to Western African countries, I had a very close relationship cooperation with WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan. And we have mobilized all agencies, so all the countries together. Now, it has been given to just the WHO and the WHO has been very much isolated because the US has withdrawn and criticizing. For the first time in history of the United Nations, during my time in 2014, the United Nations has established UNMEER a United Nations Ebola Emergency Response mission. Under this UNMEER system, led by me and working very closely with the US President Obama and WHO, World Bank and IMF we have been mobilizing all tools, agencies of the United Nations, that we were able to rapidly eradicate Ebola, which stripped Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea at the time. 

This was the one lesson which we have to and we should have done. I telephoned to Tedros, Director-General of WHO ,at the beginning of this March last year. Why don’t you mobilize the whole United Nations system? This is one lesson which we have learned. 

What Can Be Done To Strengthen Multilateralism?

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:08:01] Yes. I remember in your book you discuss that phone call you had with Dr. Tedros, urging him to mobilize all the UN agencies and not just let the burden of COVID fall exclusively on the shoulders of the World Health Organization. Your answer to that question about COVID and the UN, leads nicely to my next question, which is about multilateralism in the world today. You know, these last few years have been very challenging times for multilateralism with, among other things, the previous administration, as you just cited, withdrawing from key multilateral agencies. I’ve had a former diplomat on the show before who likened multilateralism to a muscle. It needs to be used or it will weaken in atrophy. So what today can be done to more robustly strengthen multilateralism? 

Ban Ki-moon [00:09:05] In this time of crisis no country, however powerful or resourceful, can handle all this global crisis which we are facing. And that is a lesson and that is the importance of multilateralism. The United Nations is a symbol and backbone of the multilateralism. So the UN should be empowered fully and much more with the necessary resources and political support by the member states. Now, particularly during the time of President Trump of the United States, multilateralism became in disarray. US, which has been the champion in human rights, withdrew from the Human Rights Council. 

[00:10:00] In fact, the Human Rights Council was created as a reform measure at the strong request of the United States in 2006. From the Human Rights Commission was made into Human Rights Council. Then they withdrew from JCPOA, they withdrew from WHO, and they have been taking the policy of “America First.” That leadership missing in the global diplomacy has made the multilateralism in disarray. Everybody, every country, was vying for themselves. That is why we are suffering from this Corona pandemic. No one will be safe and secure until everyone is safe and supported. That is the hard lessons which we have learned this time. 

[00:11:01] I am very pleased to see President Joe Biden, as his first presidential act, to return to Paris Climate Change Agreement and also he is leading to try to mobilize multilateral forces. I sincerely hope that the G7 summit, which will be held in a few days in the United Kingdom, will really be an occasion where the biggest and richest countries in the world will really be united and try to do maximum they could do. First thing, I think they should do to save the lives of human beings around the world, particularly those countries in the developing world. They are helpless to take care of themselves. Therefore, I joined many world leaders, former world leaders, 230 world leaders, G7 leaders, a letter of appeal to G7 leaders that it should really mobilize the necessary funding -at least the more than 40 billion dollars to provide vaccines and all of this medical equipment to resuscitate the economy. So they have a political and moral responsibility. That is the importance of G7 now that multilateralism is now coming back. At the same time, we really hope that those countries like the G20, they should be fully united to address this current crisis. That’s my sincere hope as Former Secretary-General. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:12:59] So, is it your sense that uniting the G20 specifically, around a common response to the Coronavirus pandemic, which is now well into its second year -that those actions can be harnessed to strengthen multilateralism more broadly? 

Ban Ki-moon [00:13:21] Yes. Now, WHO has initiated ACT A, Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. That is a groundbreaking global collaboration initiative for development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. Again, I strongly urge that G7 leaders in Cornwall in the United Kingdom will decide to provide the necessary financial and technological support for the developing countries. Another very important, serious, urgent issue is climate change. I am urging G7 leaders to decide and make a road map of how they are going to mobilize the 100 billion dollars they have promised in the Paris Agreement. To provide, first of all, financial assistance, science and technological assistance to many vulnerable countries, small islands, developing countries, and others. Most of the developing countries, they are the ones who have been hit worst, and most without having contributed not much. It is the industrialized countries who have contributed most of the greenhouse gas emissions which have created this current climate crisis, and therefore they have again, moral and political responsibility. 

What Advice Would Ban Ki-moon Give to Antonio Guterres on How To Manage Climate Diplomacy?

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:15:03] So we are speaking just a few months ahead of a major climate summit in Glasgow, which is built upon the Paris Agreement that you devote a lot of time in your book to to discussing and how the Paris Agreement came to be. What advice might you give your successor, Antonio Guterres, right now in the lead up to this crucial climate summit that is intended to increase the ambition and the scale of national contributions, what each country will do to confront the climate crisis? 

Ban Ki-moon [00:15:41] First of all, I’m very happy to see that my successor, Antonio Guterres, has been recommended by the Security Council unanimously for a second term. So, he will be soon appointed for a second term. So, he has a renewed authority and mandate. And therefore, I hope he will closely coordinate and cooperate and exercise his leadership as a Secretary-General to make sure that this forthcoming COP26 in Glasgow will be a great success. Now, this is going to be 26, my experience is that each and every COP has its own strengths and weaknesses. In some COPs, we made considerable progress. In some COPs, not much -very weak, sometimes a very much a division. But United Kingdom is a member of G7, and they have been one of the firm supporters on climate action. And therefore, I really hope that we will know that the curve is bending for a sustainable future of less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above warming, that the biggest emitters -they are the biggest emitters- we have made ambitious commitments to cut emissions by more than 50 percent in their nationally determined contributions. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:17:24] That’s your definition of success at this coming conference of parties.

Ban Ki-moon [00:17:29] As I said already, 100 billion dollars to help those small islands and developing countries in their mitigation and adaptation efforts. Without every country -all the country on board, nobody will be safer from this climate crisis. That is what I would like to emphasize. I’d like to also hope the language will have changed from “build back better after COVID-19” to “building forward with equality, justice and sustainability, leaving no one behind.” With that in mind. I do hope that this COP will be more inclusive than any of the previous COPs. While that may be challenging given the pandemic, now more than ever, it is more important than ever that those voices from the (coughs)… I’m sorry..

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:18:30] No, I love the passion. This is what I was used to when when seeing you as Secretary-General. And the one issue in which you were most passionate was always climate, from an early stage too, before it was fashionable. 

Ban Ki-moon [00:18:42] So we have to work for Global South and also the young generation who will be living in this world. So they should be all present and at the forefront. It’s not only the right thing to do to put those most at risk at the center of discussion, but it’s also shown to be more effective to climate outcomes. And there should be a firm commitment for net zero, net zero carbon neutrality by 2050. Like most important countries, the United States, the European Union, Japan, Korea have made it a firm commitment. China even made a commitment for net zero by 2060, we can understand the magnanimity and size of China’s challenges and 2060 was welcomed by world leaders. So this is my strong message, strong message. 

Does Multilateralism Have An Answer For Rising Authoritarianism?

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:19:51] Throughout your book, and in your answer to me just now, you reaffirm and you discuss throughout that global problems like climate change require global solutions. One of the key global problems today is rising authoritarianism and democratic decline. And this is a global problem. No region is immune. This is happening everywhere around the world. But is this the kind of problem that has a global solution? You know, is there a multilateralist answer to the challenge of rising authoritarianism? 

Ban Ki-moon [00:20:27] Now, in this 21st century, when democracy and human rights and justice and all these important principles enshrined in the trust of the United Nations should have been much more widely disseminated and practiced. But as we have already entered into the 21st century, where we have the full use of science and technology and much better tools to make our life much more prosperous and convenient. But when it comes to the political scene, there are more and more people are abusing their rights as mandated by their own people. This is because the role of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, is not exercising their duty and their right enshrined in the trust of the United Nations because of the division of the Security Council. What have they done for the case of Syria? It’s already 10 years -exactly 10 years- since 2011. Its now 2021. 6.6 million people from Syria have left, fled their country, become refugees, and the remaining all people are now living under extremely difficult economic situation because Security Council has not been able to take any action. Even humanitarian actions have been vetoed by some of the -how many members of the Security Council? 

[00:22:24] So that is what we have been seeing. This is not justice. This is not right. That is why people are crying out for the reform of the Security Council. Now, again, there are many regional blocs -regional groups like the League of Arab States, African Union, ASEAN, or American -OAS, etc., etc. These original groups should be also empowered. They should be much more engaged in the regional issues, but mostly they are divided. Mostly they are divided. That is a very sad phenomenon at this time. As a Secretary-General, I have been really meeting, engaging with each and every leader, whether they are democratic or undemocratic. But I have been urging them that you should work for their own people. It’s not right. It’s not justice. Justice will prevail. You may just go this way but justice will prevail. If not now, tomorrow. If not tomorrow, soon. Surely, in the very near future. This is why we have established the ICC International Criminal Court. But because of the division of, again, for the Security Council, Security Council is not able to recommend to indict those responsible people of the ICC. 

What Challenges Will The United Nations Face In the Coming Years?

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:24:05]  Lastly, going forward, as you mentioned earlier, we’re speaking just as your successor, Antonio Guterres, was recommended by the Security Council, despite the divisions that you just articulated, for another five year term. Over the course of the next five years, what will you be looking towards to suggest to you whether or not the United Nations is succeeding or failing in living up to its ideals? 

Ban Ki-moon [00:24:34] United Nations should be successful -must be successful. That’s the only international organization created by the whole world’s people. This is a place where almost all the nations, small and big, powerful or weak, or rich and poor. So this is the only forum whee we can really discuss the whole world’s problems. We have so many subsidiary organizations. We have so many specialized agencies where each and every issue, which we are now going through, experiencing in this world -including climate and human rights and development- can be discussed. 

[00:25:27] Again, during my time in 2015, the United Nations has presented the most ambitious, most far-reaching visions. That is the Paris Climate Change Agreement and also 17 goals with the Sustainable Development Goals. 17 goals cover each and every aspect of our human lives and our nature. If we really implement all these 17 goals by 2030, there will be nobody will suffer from abject poverty. Nobody will suffer from injustice and human rights issues. Men and women and our our world’s people will be able to live harmoniously with our nature. I think that is the vision. I think that’s the most ambitious and far-reaching vision the United Nations has been presented. Those true visions must be held and implemented with the whole-hearted support and participation of all the countries. 

Mark Leon Goldberg [00:26:44] Well, Mr. Secretary-General, thank you so much for your time and for your passion on on these issues. And again, the book is is a wonderful tour around the world. It’s a very valuable addition to anyone who wants to learn more about the United Nations and international affairs and about you. It’s a great personal story as well. So thank you. 

Ban Ki-moon [00:27:09] Thank you very much for this opportunity. Thank you. 

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