A selection of UN TV programmes, webcasts and video clips on issues in the news

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Global Day of Parents 2014, June 1st.

The UN General Assembly has recently established a new International Day: Global Day of Parents (1st June), "to be observed annually, honouring parents throughout the world." It was an initiative of the outgoing President of the General Assembly from Qatar and it has been already published in the official list:  As the UN press note says, by this resolution (see text below) the GA "recognized that the family had primary responsibility for nurturing and protecting children. It invited all Member States to celebrate the Day in full partnership with civil society, particularly involving young people and children."
Also, this resolution not only recognizes parents but also, as they have explicitely told us, "indirectly pays tribute to your efforts to foster parenting education and the need to support parents for the general well-being of families." Therefore, it gives everyone involved in education and parenthood issues a new great opportunity to have as many initiatives as possible to disseminate this Global Day and help to celebrate and consolidate it.
Resolution adopted by the General Assembly 66/292. Global Day of Parents

The General Assembly 1. Decides to proclaim 1 June the Global Day of Parents, to be observed annually, honouring parents throughout the world;
2. Invites Member States to celebrate the Global Day of Parents in full partnership with civil society, particularly involving young people and children;
3. Requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and civil society organizations

Forum Global Day of Parents, June 1st.

World No Tobacco Day 2014, May 31.


World No Tobacco Day 2014

The health risks associated with tobacco use

30 April 2014 -- Every year, on 31 May, WHO and partners mark World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. Tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, of which more than 600 000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke. For World No Tobacco Day 2014, we are calling on countries to raise taxes on tobacco.

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
Confronting The Tobacco Epidemic - In a New Era of Trade and Investment Liberalization.

WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2013

World No Tobacco Day 2014 campaign


Understanding the tobacco industry's practices is crucial for the success of tobacco control policies. In this context, it's important also to understand that tobacco products are the only legally available products that can kill up to one half of their regular users if consumed as recommended by the manufacturer.
Contact us
WHO Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases (PND)
Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health
20 Avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27
Telephone: +41 22 791 4426

Thursday, 29 May 2014

International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers 2014, May 29

Theme 2014: “UN Peacekeeping: A Force for Peace. A Force for Change. A Force for the Future.


 On 29 May, UN offices, alongside Member States and non-governmental organizations, hold events to honour fallen peacekeepers. Since the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, more than 3,200 military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives in the service of peace as a result of acts of violence, accidents and disease.

FEATURE: New challenges spur UN peacekeeping to become ‘a force for the future’.

Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operation, greets a MONUSCO FIB contingent in Pinga, DR Congo. UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti

29 May 2014 – From deploying new technologies such as drones and robots to boosting the number of women in its ranks, United Nations peacekeeping is striving to confront new challenges and offer best value for funding as it serves communities around the world.

“The United Nations is improving logistics and administrative practices, strengthening infrastructure and taking other steps to harness the power of our personnel,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Our goal is to ensure that peacekeeping is a cost effective, valuable investment that brings enormous benefits and, above all, saves lives.”
Today, more than 116,000 UN military, police and civilian personnel from more than 120 countries serve in 16 peacekeeping operations, often at great personal risk. They perform a variety of tasks, from stabilizing communities torn apart by conflict and protecting civilians to promoting the rule of law and advancing human rights.
To assist them in carrying out such critical duties, UN peacekeeping is on a mission of its own: to modernize and innovate to ensure it can tackle tomorrow’s peace and security challenges, and to be “a force for peace, a force for change, and a force for the future,” according to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
“We’re operating in the 21st century and we cannot continue just using tools of 50 or 100 years ago. We have to be current with all the developments in the world,” Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations told the UN News Centre.
“We need to deliver better services, possibly for less. I think that using technology is one way to address that very legitimate concern of our Member States.”
For this reason, the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, observed annually on 29 May, kicks off a six-month campaign designed to raise political support and highlight the fact that UN peacekeeping is ‘good value’.
An example of the use of new technology is the introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are unarmed and used solely for surveillance purposes, in the vast Democratic Republic of the Congo – a technological first for the UN and one which is now being considered for other peacekeeping operations.
One of the ways that UAVs have made an impact on the ground was earlier this month during a ferry accident in Lake Kivu. After a UAV spotted a boat in distress, the UN peacekeeping mission in the country immediately sent its speedboats and helicopters to the scene and was able to rescue 15 people.
“From the second it spotted the sinking ship, the UAV stayed at the scene searching for survivors and providing situational awareness,” said Ameerah Haq, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support.
“This illustrates the flexibility and the ability of UAVs to greatly enhance situational awareness and aid life-saving operations by the provision of real-time imagery to support reaction to incidents,” she added.
Also in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where communities are under threat from armed militias, the UN deployed a specially equipped ‘Force Intervention Brigade’ to support the national army. In November, the brigade successfully supported the military defeat of the M23 armed group, liberating areas under its control and removing the threat posed to civilians.
The UN has also enhanced its use of thermal imaging, closed-circuit television, night vision abilities and GIS [geographic information systems] data to improve situation awareness to provide better for the safety and security of its peacekeepers.
As part of the ongoing effort by the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and of Field Support (DFS) to take advantage of emerging technologies and innovations, a group of five experts is being tasked with advising on how best to use these capabilities.
The group, led by seasoned peace and security expert Jane Holl Lute, will examine how these technologies can be leveraged to enable peacekeepers to respond more effectively to an increasing number of complex, multidimensional tasks in challenging field environments.
It will also look at how technological innovations can improve operational effectiveness, multiply impact and enhance safety and security of both peacekeepers and host communities.
As part of its modernization endeavour, the UN is boosting the representation of women among its ranks, with the belief that female peacekeepers serve as role models in local communities, inspiring women and girls in often male-dominated societies.
In an historic move earlier this month, the Organization appointed its first-ever female force commander. Major General Kristin Lund of Norway will take over military command of the UN mission in Cyprus, whose top leadership post is held by another woman, Lisa Buttenheim.
“I think it’s very important that the UN took this step to appoint a female force commander and I hope that I can be a role model for other female officers that see that it’s possible,” Major General Lund told the UN News Centre at the time of her appointment.
UN blue helmets are also aiming to ‘go green’ through the responsible use of limited resources, in a bid to leave mission areas in better shape than when they arrived. Among other steps, GIS data is being used to help find water sources for missions so as not to compete with the local water supply.
Missions are also including waste water treatment plants designed to drastically reduce the need for water and generation of disposable waste, as well as exploring alternative sources of energy such as solar panels.
Another way the UN is looking to innovate is by strengthening partnerships with Member States and regional and sub-regional organizations as well as pursuing cooperation between missions. In Mali and the Central African Republic, it has worked closely with the African Union and other sub-regional groups.
“Looking forward, we will need to develop those partnerships more and more,” said Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet, who noted that regional and sub-regional organizations are often the “first respondents” when conflict breaks out, especially on the African continent.
“The world is changing. The threats are changing. The levels of conflict are changing in many places in the world,” he added. “So we have to adapt and we have to evolve and we have to learn how to deal with these new challenges.”

UN honours ‘blue helmets,’ seeks to build modern, adaptive peacekeeping force

Wreath laid in honour of the 106 peacekeepers who lost their lives the previous year while serving under the UN flag. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

List of Fallen in 2013 (Peacekeepers) 
UN Peacekeeping : The Fallen by Country nationality, Rank, Names, Date of Incident, Missions, Appointment Type, Gender. Peacekeepers lost in 2013.


Hailing the “long and proud” history of United Nations peacekeeping – with over one million “blue helmets” having served in more than 70 operations on four continents since 1948 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led the Organization today in honouring those men and women who lost their lives in the past year, while looking to the future, envisioning a modern, global force that can effectively tackle emerging peace and security challenges.

On this International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, observed annually on 29 May, the world body honoured the 106 peacekeepers who died last year while serving under the UN flag, bringing the total number of lives lost in the history of peacekeeping to more than 3,200.

“We mourn the passing of every one of these courageous individuals. We grieve with their friends and families and we recommit ourselves to ensure that their contributions to the cause of peace will never be forgotten,” declared the Secretary-General in his message for the Day.

He noted that today, more than 116,000 UN personnel from more than 120 countries serve in 16 peacekeeping operations. “At great personal risk, these military, police and civilian personnel help stabilize communities, protect civilians, promote the rule of law and advance human rights.”

The annual wreath-laying ceremony took place for the first time at a newly-created site on the north end of the UN’s New York Headquarters complex.

Opening that solemn ceremony, Mr. Ban said 2013 was the sixth year in a row that more than 100 peacekeepers died. Some were killed when their convoys came under attack in Darfur and South Sudan.
Others had lost their lives to explosions in Mali. Still others were taken by floodwaters in Darfur. “In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and elsewhere, our peacekeepers were shot while protecting civilians.” He said, adding that in the Middle East, Haiti and beyond, many succumbed to deadly diseases and other dangers that are part of their life-saving work.

“The threats continue this year. The insecurity in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Mali and Darfur has tested us to the limits of our capacities,” the Secretary-General said, underscoring that the Organization is doing everything possible to protect its personnel in the field. “Despite our best efforts, we can never reduce the risks entirely,” he added sombrely.

“That is why today, we applaud the courage, dedication and professionalism of the 120,000 peacekeepers who are now deployed in some of the most dangerous places on earth. I pay them my highest tribute,” said the UN chief.

In his remarks at the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal Awards Ceremony, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations said those blue helmets that had lost their lives had not perished merely for an ideal: “Our peacekeepers have made a practical difference on the ground, and this perhaps what matters most.”

As for current on-the-ground operations, he said UN peacekeeping is providing a dynamic response in some of the planet’s most complicated and difficult places. “Our peacekeepers continue to be in high demand and for UN peacekeeping to be relevant and effective, we must not just keep up with this changing environment, we must be a step ahead of it.”

Echoing the theme of the day, Mr. Ladsous said peacekeepers are working tirelessly so that UN Peacekeeping can be “A Force for Peace, A Force for Change, A Force for the Future.” By introducing unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicles (UUAVs) in the DR Congo, UN peacekeeping has shown “that we are able to be modern and use latest technologies to monitor movements of armed groups and allow us to better protect vulnerable populations.”

“By rapidly erecting protection of civilian sites for 90,000 civilians fleeing war in South Sudan – sometimes from an empty plot of land – we have shown that we are able to adapt under tough circumstances to respond to developing crisis,” said Mr. Ladsous, adding that by going after armed groups in the foothills of North Kivu with ferocity and vigour, UN peacekeeping has shown that it “will not back down” when confronted by those who would threaten the most vulnerable.

“Of course, none of this would happen without the support of our partners. Today, I would like especially to commend the Member States, who provide troops and police, resources and funding, training and equipment – our contributing States. I thank you all for your hard work on our behalf,” he said.

Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Ms. Ameerah Haq said that 22 civilians had been among those who lost their lives while serving in UN peacekeeping missions, including in Liberia, Darfur, and South Sudan. On behalf of the Secretary-General and the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, she extended deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the deceased.

“Our civilian colleagues in the field toil day-in, day-out on the frontlines of today’s conflicts,” she said noting that whether mediating inter-tribal conflicts, documenting human rights violations, or reporting on the state of fragile ceasefire agreements, they carry out their work at great personal risk and sacrifice.

“We can pay no greater tribute to those who have lost their lives than to ensure that their aspirations are pursued and ultimately realized.”

Mr. Ban said earlier that UN peacekeeping is modernizing to ensure that it can tackle tomorrow's peace and security challenges. It is deploying new technologies such as refining its practices to better protect civilians, and boosting the representation of women among its ranks while strengthening its partnerships with regional organizations.

“The United Nations is improving logistics and administrative practices, strengthening infrastructure and taking other steps to harness the power of our personnel,” he said, adding: “Our goal is to ensure that peacekeeping is a cost effective, valuable investment that brings enormous benefits and, above all, saves lives.”

He noted that over the past year, the Security Council established two peacekeeping operations – in Mali and in the Central African Republic – again highlighting its trust in UN peacekeepers to take on tough challenges.

In addition, the UN mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, helped the Government defeat the M23 rebels that had preyed on civilians in the country's east, he said, while also highlighting another first: “In an historic breakthrough, a woman was named the first female Force Commander of a UN peacekeeping operation.”

Earlier this month, the Security Council established the "Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal," named after an unarmed Senegalese peacekeeper who lost his own life after saving as many as a thousand people during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

“This medal will honour UN personnel who demonstrate exceptional courage. Let us all commit to following the selfless example of Mbaye Diagne and other fallen heroes, as we work together to help our blue helmets be a force for peace, a force for change, and a force for the future,” declared the Secretary-General.
In his message for the Day, John Ashe, President of the General Assembly, encouraged Member States, civil society and other stakeholders to support this year's theme: “UN Peacekeeping: A Force for Peace. A Force for Change. A Force for the Future.”

“We must ensure that security challenges are addressed in the countries where peacekeepers work so that we can create a more sustainable future for all members of the international community,” he said.
As the UN and the international community continue the global effort to set the stage for the creation of a post-2015 development agenda, innovation and technology, especially the transfer of new and emerging technologies will greatly contribute to strengthening global security. “We must continue to create new ways of using these technologies to protect those at greatest risk in conflict and war-torn countries,” said Mr. Ashe.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

On International Day, Secretary-General Applauds Courage of 120,000 Peacekeepers Now Deployed in Most Dangerous Places on Earth

International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers to Be Observed at New York Headquarters, Offices Worldwide, 29 May

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development - 21 May

The  World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to live together better.

On 5 May 2014, the UN General Assembly held a day-long debate on “Culture and sustainable development in the post 2015 development agenda.” Speakers underscored through country level testimonies and global data how culture, in its manifold expressions ranging from cultural heritage to creative industries, from sustainable tourism to cultural infrastructure, drives and enables the social, environmental and economic pillars of sustainable developments.

President of the United Nations General Assembly message  for the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development 2014.

Statement attributable to the President of the General Assembly
United Nations, New York, 21 May 2014
On this World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, I encourage all of us to recognize the importance of cultural diversity, both as a reflection of the richness of humankind, and as essential to the flourishing of countries and communities across the world.
As we approach 2015, the international community is seeking to identify ways to promote inclusive socio-economic development across the world. Development needs to be truly sustainable and should be adapted to local contexts; it should rely on the cultural resources of countries and peoples, while respecting cultural rights.

As highlighted by the United Nations General Assembly, culture enables and drives development and should be mainstreamed in all development programmes. It ought to be recognized as such in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Culture also drives development within a number of sectors including tourism and heritage. Moreover, a respect for cultural diversity is necessary to address both the economic and human rights dimensions of poverty and to promote quality education, sustainable cities and urbanization, sustainable environmental practices, and inclusive societies.

The Special Thematic Debate on Culture and Sustainable Development, which I convened on May 5, as mandated by the General Assembly in its third resolution on this subject, gathered more than 250 participants, all of whom concurred that there can be no sustainable development without cultural diversity. I encourage ongoing efforts by Member States and other stakeholders in this regard and hope these issues will be underscored in the current and forthcoming process of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Cultural Diversity and Creativity

Cultural Diversity and International Solidarity

Identity, Diversity and Pluralism

Message from Ms.Irina Bokova the Director-General of UNESCO for the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development 2014. .

Our cultural diversity is the common heritage of humanity. It is a source of renewal of ideas and societies, through which we open up to others and craft new ways of thinking. This diversity provides opportunities for peace and sustainable development.
In the final push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, UNESCO is continuing to strengthen its advocacy and action in favour of the link between culture and sustainable development. The resolution adopted in December 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly, recognizing the role of culture as a driver and enabler of sustainable development, is an invitation to further mobilize the potential of cultural diversity. This diversity is a valuable resource for attaining development goals, including fighting poverty and promoting gender equality, quality education and human rights, and we must fully integrate it into the global strategies for sustainable development.

The United Nations Creative Economy Report 2013, co-published by UNESCO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), confirms that the creative economy is one of the most rapidly growing sectors in the world. Figures show that world trade in creative goods and services totalled a record $624 billion in 2011 and that it more than doubled from 2002 to 2011. From audio-visual design to production, performing arts to new media, publishing to the visual arts, our cultural diversity is a creative diversity. It is a source of employment and income, conveying identities and collective benchmarks, contributing to social cohesion and self-esteem in our globalized world.

The greatest strength of cultural goods and services lies in their dual, economic and cultural nature. This specificity offers a response to the growing demands for more integrated policies, capable of addressing the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. Culture is not a commodity like any other, and this principle, which is internationally recognized by the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted in 2005, is a guiding principle for forging more innovative and sustainable development strategies.

We have entered a new age of limits – in terms of resources, in terms of the planet – and our response must be to unleash our most powerful renewable resource, human intelligence and creativity. Our cultural diversity is a stimulator of creativity. Investing in this creativity can transform societies. It is our responsibility to develop education and intercultural skills in young people to sustain the diversity of our world and to learn to live together in the diversity of our languages, cultures and religions, to bring about change.
Today, I call on Member States of UNESCO to carry this message to the highest level, to include culture and cultural diversity in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. We must make culture a priority now.

                                                                                                                                           Irina Bokova

The film illustrates through motion graphics and photographs how the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) invests in creativity to transform societies. Established under the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the IFCD is the international cultural cooperation platform that supports over 60 projects on entrepreneurship and business development, new technologies and innovation, empowering individuals and social groups. The film encourages viewers to make contribution to the IFCD in order to invest in creativity in developing countries and transform societies towards achieving sustainable development.


Decision makers, cultural entrepreneurs and practitioners in the global South use IFCD investments to develop policies, markets and training opportunities that strengthen their culturally unique cultural industries. Thanks to our governmental and private donors, we have raised US$ 6.4 million, which has helped support 61 projects across 40 countries so far.

The IFCD is multi-donor Fund established under Article 18 of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

UNESCO - International Fund for the Promotion-of Cutural Diversity (IFCD)

Africa Day 2014, May 25th.

  The theme for Africa Day 2014  focuses on agriculture and food security.


Transformation, growth, dynamism, progress and partnership: these concepts are central to the African Union’s narrative as it embarks on the second half of its first centennial. I am confident that the AU’s vision, “Agenda 2063,” can succeed.

Agriculture and food security – the theme of this year’s Africa Day – will be critical. More countries are investing in agriculture, while donors have pledged to increase funding and technical assistance.  I am especially alarmed by the high risk of famine in South Sudan, where the lack of a genuine cessation of hostilities may cause farmers to miss the planting season.

My Zero Hunger Challenge initiative aims to scale up efforts to eliminate hunger through sustainable agriculture and food systems. The observance of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming aims to mobilize support for smallholder farmers, especially women, who contribute so much to Africa’s food security.
At the same time, we must do more to unleash the full potential of Africa’s agricultural sector, which employs two out of every three Africans. By processing commodities and using other means to add value, we can help develop rural areas, create jobs and empower people while ensuring food security.
I encourage Africa’s leaders and their partners to advance these aims. The United Nations will continue to accelerate our push to reach the Millennium Development Goals and to ensure that Africa’s priorities, as expressed in the Common African Position, are reflected in the post-2015 development agenda.
I also call on Africa’s leaders to participate in the Climate Summit I will convene in September to galvanize action toward a meaningful new climate agreement. Africa is among the regions most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and I fully support the continent’s leaders as they engage on this critical issue.
Africa Day is also a moment to reaffirm commitment to the continent’s women and young people. I express my solidarity with the families of the kidnapped schoolgirls in Borno State, Nigeria, along with the country’s Government and people, and pledge to work for their safe return.

Africa is achieving admirable growth, but social and economic inequalities are on the increase. Greater equity presents a common challenge to the continent as a whole and can help foster peace and stability. Conflict prevention and the peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue and mediation are critical to realizing the goal to end all wars in Africa by 2020.

The United Nations will maintain a strong partnership with the African Union as we pursue peace, sustainable development, democracy and human rights. On this Africa Day, let us pledge to continue standing with the people and leaders of Africa as they advance on a path to a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future.


On Africa Day, Ban urges leveraging continent's potential for the good of all people

A woman farmer in Ganta, Liberia. Photo: UNMIL/Christophe Herwig

25 May 2014 – The world must do more to unleash Africa's full potential in agriculture, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said while also urging the continent's leaders and development partners to combat growing social and economic inequalities.
“Greater equity presents a common challenge to the continent as a whole and can help foster peace and stability,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message to mark Africa Day, which commemorates the founding in 1963 of the Organization of African Unity, now known as the African Union (AU).
“Transformation, growth, dynamism, progress and partnership” are central to the AU's narrative, Mr. Ban said, pledging the UN's continued cooperation on partnerships to pursue peace, sustainable development, democracy and human rights.

Highlighting this year's theme for Africa Day, which focuses on agriculture and food security, Mr. Ban noted that two out of three people on the continent are employed by the agricultural sector even as hunger persists in various countries.

With an average annual GDP increase of 4.8 per cent between 2000 and 2010, up from 2.1 per cent in the previous decade, Africa has seven out of the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world. The agriculture sector, in particular, has progressed considerably, with the intensification of staple food production.
“By processing commodities and using other means to add value, we can help develop rural areas, create jobs and empower people while ensuring food security,” said Mr. Ban, whose 'Zero Hunger Challenge' aims for a future where every individual has adequate nutrition.

First proposed at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the Zero Hunger Challenge aims to scale up efforts to eliminate hunger through sustainable agriculture and food systems.
Its five objectives are to make sure that everyone in the world has access to enough nutritious food all year long; to end childhood stunting; to build sustainable food systems; to double the productivity and income of smallholder farmers, especially women; and to prevent food from being lost or wasted.
This year's commemoration of the Day also falls amid observances of the ongoing International Year of Family Farming, which aims to mobilize support for smallholder farmers, particularly women.
In his message, Mr. Ban also urged African leader to participate in his Climate Summit this September noting that the continent is among “the regions most vulnerable” to climate change.

Ending Conflicts ... sustaining Peace

 Celebrating the AU PSC 10th anniversary and reflecting on 10 years of changing the world

 Africa has opted to become a conflict-free continent in line with the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration. The PSC, as the locomotive for the realization of this noble vision, should play a leading role.

The PSC now needs the PSC to graduate from his role of "fire brigade" to one of prevention.

The 10th anniversary is a major occasion for self-introspection of the PSC, to draw lessons from its ten years of operation at the service of Africa.

One key point that we have to master is that, over the next ten years, the prime focus of the Council for achieving peace and security in Africa will be to focus on prevention, prevention.. and yes again.. prevention.

The Peace and Security Department has released its free Hybrid Mobile App for your SmartPhones and Tablets.
Stay up to date with the latest news and events, browse the historical timeline, play the educative quiz and post your results on the leaderboard,learn about the APSA, Participate to the discussion for the 2020 Silencing the guns countdown.
This innovative App is designed to work on a range of mobile devices and screen sizes.

Join the Forum Africa Day - 25 May

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

International Day to End Obstetric Fistula 2014 , May 23rd.

On International Day, UN urges end to ‘global social injustice’ of obstetric fistula

23 May 2014 – United Nations officials today called for eradicating the global social injustice of obstetric fistula, a consequence of childbirth that affects an estimated two million women and girls in developing countries but is entirely preventable with access to quality medical care.
“This International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is an opportunity to sound the alarm on this tragedy so that we may galvanize action to end it. Progress is possible,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message to mark the occasion.
Observed annually on 23 May, the Day aims to raise awareness about, generate new support for and speed up efforts to end an injury that harms women physically, socially and economically.
Most women who develop fistula, a hole in the birth canal usually caused by prolonged, obstructed labour, remain untreated for their entire lives, and the condition can easily recur in women and girls whose fistula has been surgically treated but who receive little or no medical follow-up and then become pregnant again.
“It is an appalling fact that in our world of modern medical advances, nearly 800 women still die from pregnancy-related complications each day, and for every woman who dies, almost 20 more are injured or disabled with severe or life-shattering, long-term conditions such as obstetric fistula,” said Mr. Ban.
The Secretary-General said that addressing obstetric fistula is more than a matter of health. “It is a human rights imperative,” he stated, adding that, if left untreated, the condition can contribute to social isolation and depression and lead to chronic medical problems.
Over the past dozen years, some 47,000 women and girls have received surgical treatment supported by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which leads the global Campaign to End Fistula.
“Fistula is fully preventable when all women and girls have access to high-quality, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, especially family planning, maternal health care and emergency obstetric care,” said Mr. Ban, who called for joint efforts to eliminate this “global social injustice.”
The theme of this year’s Day is “Tracking Fistula – Transforming Lives” and reflects an important step forward in eradicating this preventable condition.
“To treat fistula and provide women with follow-up medical care, we need to know more about how many women and girls are in need of services and also where they live,” UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said in a statement.
“In most instances, stigma forces women living with the condition to remain hidden and isolates them from families and communities. By systematically registering and tracking each woman and girl who has or had an obstetric fistula, we can make enormous strides in improving their well-being and increasing the chances of their babies’ survival in subsequent pregnancies.”
Dr. Osotimehin said that eliminating the health crisis of obstetric fistula requires scaling up countries’ capacities to provide access to equitable, high-quality sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning and maternity care, especially comprehensive emergency obstetric care.
“Tracking and treating all fistula cases is crucial, but it is also necessary for countries to take steps to prevent fistulas by addressing underlying medical and socio-economic causes, eliminating gender-based social and economic inequities, preventing child marriage and early childbearing and promoting education, especially for girls,” he added.
Despite the progress made, the Executive Director said that far more support and momentum are needed to enable the Campaign to expand its reach to all corners of the world where women suffering from fistula remain isolated and often unaware that treatment is available or even possible.
“The time has come to put an end to obstetric fistula and address the circumstances that perpetuate it, including poverty, lack of access to health care, child marriage and early childbearing.
“We have the resources and know-how. What we need now is the political will to elevate the status of women and girls, rectify inequalities and protect the human rights of every woman and girl, so that fistula may never again undermine a person’s health, well-being, dignity and ability to participate in and contribute to their communities.”

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

International Day for Biological Diversity, 22 May 2014.

 The United Nations has proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. When first created by the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly in late 1993, 29 December (the date of entry into force of the Convention of Biological Diversity), was designated The International Day for Biological Diversity.

 Join the Forum on the International Day for Biological Diversity - 22 May


 Message of the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias on the Occasion of the International Day for Biodiversity 22 May 2014. "Island Biodiversity


INTERVIEW: ‘Bright spots’ can help islands navigate towards sustainable future, says UN biodiversity chief.

 Tiny though some may be, islands play a huge role in sustaining life on the planet – making up less than 5 per cent of Earth’s landmass, they are home to 20 per cent of all bird, reptile and plant species – and protecting their fragile ecosystems from ill-considered development, polluted waters and invasive species is the main focus of this year’s International Day for Biodiversity.

While islands and their surrounding near-shore marine areas face immense challenges, especially those triggered by a rapidly warming planet, the head of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is convinced there are “bright spots;” that the innovation, experience and knowledge of islands and the communities that thrive among them can contribute significantly to the conservation and sustainable use of Earth’s biodiversity and natural resources.

“That’s the big agenda this year,” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, the Convention’s Executive Secretary, in an interview with the UN News Centre. On the International Day and throughout 2014, the CBD Secretariat will aim to boost overall support for islands party to the Convention and States parties that have island territories to make better use of existing solutions, enhance partnerships and mobilize more global attention to the threats islands face.

Along these lines, the UN will be convening the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States from 1 to 4 September in Apia, Samoa, to focus worldwide attention on the sustainable development of this unique group of countries.

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias (left), Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, speaks at special event on the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity (22 May), on the theme "Water and Biodiversity". UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz
“We plan to keep up the momentum generated by the [spotlight cast on] islands and oceans at the 2012 Rio+20 conference,” said Mr. Dias, referring to the culmination of a series of landmark UN meetings on sustainable development. Rio+20 was preceded in 2002 by the Johannesburg World Summit, which itself was preceded by the historic 1992 Earth Summit, where nations agreed on what have become known as the “Rio conventions:” the UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC); the Convention on Desertification; and the CBD itself.
Sunset in Havana. UN Photo/Milton Grant
Noting the inextricable link between the fate of island biodiversity and islands themselves, under pressure as they are from many of the same threats, he said: “Islands are isolated and they have precious biodiversity that is unique to them; if we lose this biodiversity…it its gone forever,” he said, explaining why it is so vitally important to keep the issue at the top of the development agenda.
“[They] are fragile ecosystems, facing threats from desertification, as well as unsustainable fishing, forestry and agriculture. Increasingly, with the onset of climate change, they are also being threatened by sea-level rise and ocean acidification,” he added.
Major drivers of biodiversity loss are invasive alien species – both animals and plants ¬– that colonize an island, out-compete the native fauna and flora and destroy them. For a species to become invasive it must “arrive, survive and thrive,” according to the CBD.

Mangroves Cut in Hera, Timor-Leste. UN Photo/Martine Perret
And while it may be hard to imagine, surrounded as they are by water, islands are often negatively impacted by desertification. “Some are in regions with less rainfall. Some have poor irrigation [systems] or manage ecosystems unsustainably. But generally, it’s driven by climate change: it’s getting hotter and drier in many island regions,” Mr. Dias said.

This led him to make a passionate plea for stepping up protection for the world’s coral reefs: “[They] are like the ‘rainforests of the oceans.’ Coral reefs are the richest ecosystems in the oceans, and islands are where they are concentrated.”

Fishing off Atauro Island, Timor-Leste. UN Photo/Martine Perret
Unfortunately, coral reefs are under serious threat –“perhaps the most threatened ecosystems on Earth” – from overfishing, pollution and of course, climate change. “As the water gets warmer, sea levels rise, and as we put more CO2 into the atmosphere, the water filters that,” he said, underscoring that reefs can be seriously damaged if their food sources are disrupted or the waters around them become too acidic. “It’s a huge challenge,” he lamented.
Against this backdrop, the CBD will be working with all countries to promote the aims of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including Aichi Biodiversity Targets, adopted in Nagoya, Japan and bolstered by the General Assembly’s decision in 2010 to declare the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.

Marine Wildlife off Atauro Island, Timor-Leste. UN Photo/Martine Perret
“We will be making a big push for partnerships and capacity-building so that all countries can enhance their implementation of the strategy” said Mr. Dias, explaining that the Strategy’s 20 targets are grouped in five goals: reducing underlying causes of biodiversity loss by tackling socio-economic drivers such as unsustainable production and consumption; addressing “direct drivers” such as deforestation, pollution, and unsustainable fisheries; boosting conservation efforts; enhancing benefits to society; and enhancing instruments to help implement the agenda.
As part of efforts on the International Day, the CBD along with the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) are launching the Island Bright Spots in Conservation and Sustainability report, which affirms that even though islands are more at risk than ever before, leaders of island countries and countries with islands have made visionary commitments at local, national, regional and global levels.

Aerial views of the approach to Dili, Baucau. UN Photo/Martine Perret
“The whole idea is to bring together and disseminate solutions to help islands deal with threats. That’s the ‘bright spot.’ We don’t only want to [highlight] the challenges, we want to show that there are some good solutions,” he said, echoing the report’s focus on inspiring projects to create or expand land and marine protected areas; tackle invasive species; and address the impacts of climate change.

The report highlights, among other examples, the 2005 Micronesia Challenge –¬ calling on the region to conserve 30 per cent of coastal waters and 20 per cent of land by 2020 ¬– which demonstrates how inspired political momentum leads to diverse initiatives on the ground. The similar Caribbean Challenge Initiative, launched 2008, provides a model for leveraging large-scale public and private sector commitment towards common goals.

Egrets gliding over the small body of water in Tasi-tolu, Dili. UN Photo/Martine Perret

Egrets gliding over the small body of water in Tasi-tolu, Dili. UN Photo/Martine Perret
“We need to disseminate these lessons learned and encourage countries and civil society organizations to make better use of them,” said Mr. Dias. “We hope all countries will be able to make good use of this information and develop initiatives to highlight the relevance of biodiversity for their sustainable development.”

 UNESCO and Island Biodiversity,

This year, the International Day for Biological Diversity is dedicated to “island biodiversity,” in line with the designation by the United Nations General Assembly of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States.
In September, Samoa will host the Third International Conference of Small Island Developing States. UNESCO is helping to prepare this major event, which will help to shape a new global sustainable development agenda to follow 2015. This agenda must recognize the importance of Small Island Developing States for global sustainable development.

Island biodiversity is essential here. Many islands and archipelagos have evolved unique biodiversity over time, with a high rate of endemism and particular conservation challenges, with species on small islands being particularly vulnerable to extinction.
The livelihoods and cultural identities of islanders have always been inextricably linked to biodiversity. However, with the presence of people and associated biodiversity —crops, livestock and pests—the risk of extinction to native biodiversity is especially high, and novel communities of species have largely replaced native island biodiversity in many places. Today, climate change, natural disasters, and skewed development are threatening the sustainability of human communities on islands as well as island biodiversity.

UNESCO is acting to address these challenges. The sub Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves (20 members) and the Network for Pacific Biosphere Reserves (10 members) belong to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme. The World Heritage Convention
also includes many natural sites on islands.

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission is building the leadership capacity of the directors of marine and coastal sciences institutes, with a focus on Small Island Developing States, where livelihoods depend heavily on marine resources. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission’s
Ocean Biogeographic Information System is a gateway to the world's ocean biodiversity and biogeographic data and information,
building and maintaining a global alliance of over 500 institutions in 56 countries, including in Small Island Developing States.

UNESCO is also working through such initiatives as
Climate Frontlines and Sandwatch , to build the capacities of islanders and to develop networks that help communities to self-
organise and create their own resources that are culturally sensitive and scientifically sound. This includes initiatives to help conserve island biodiversity.

Throughout all of this, UNESCO is committed to working with all partners for the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, and the Organization is contributing full-steam to preparing a successful Third International Conference of Small Island Developing States. As we shape the post-2015 development agenda, we must recognise the importance of island biodiversity and work together to ensure the conservation of this precious and irreplaceable natural resource, which is the basis of human

Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of International Day for Biological Diversity,  22 May 2014.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue