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

Sunday, 28 September 2014

World Rivers Day 2014, September 28

Всемирный день Реки‬,
‪‎Día Mundial de los Ríos‬,
Journée Mondiale des rivières‬,
World Rivers Day 2014‬,

World Rivers Day is a global celebration of the world's waterways, it highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness while encouraging the improved stewardship of River basins around the world. World Rivers Day has been endorsed by various agencies of the United Nations is intended to complement the broader efforts of the United Nations Water for Life Decade.

Forum :   28 September is World Rivers Day.
We asked three questions:
a) what are the key pressures on and drivers of change in freshwater ecosystems, 
b) what are the most illustrative examples of these threats, and
c) what recommendations or solutions can we pose to address these threats?

Events :

 Prizes : Riverprize Judging Panels
Blue Line
The International RiverFoundation sincerely thanks our past and present judges for contributing their time and expertise. Please note that the final judging panels for the 2014 Riverprize round are yet to be confirmed.

 “What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt - it is sure to get
where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.”
 Hal Boyle, Pulitzer prize-winning columnist.

World's Top 10 Rivers at Risk.
The report, World's Top Rivers at Risk, lists the top ten rivers that are fast dying as a result of climate change, pollution and dams.

Five of the ten rivers listed in the report are in Asia alone. They are the Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Ganges and Indus. Europe’s Danube, the Americas’ La Plata and Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, Africa’s Nile-Lake Victoria and Australia’s Murray-Darling also make the list.

The report calls on governments to better protect river flows and water allocations in order to safeguard habitats and people’s livelihoods.

The Danube River Basin

 The most multinational river basin in the world, the Danube basin is roughly twice the size of California and its basin covers part or all of 19 riparian countries: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Ukraine, of which eight are EU member states (in italics) and two are EU accession countries. The river is a principle resource for industry, agriculture, transport and power generation (Environment for Europeans 2004). The Danube delta supports both fishing and tourism (FAO 2000b). Approximately 60 of its 300 tributaries are navigable including the Inn, Morava, Drava, Tisza, Sava and Prut (ICPDR 2006a). It is home to 47 cities18, and passes through four national capitals: Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary), and Belgrade (Serbia) (WRI 2003).

The Ganges river basin
The Ganges river basin runs from the central Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, and covers parts of Nepal, India, China and Bangladesh (Newby 1998; WRI 2003). The Ganges fl ows through northeastern India to the Bangladesh border, east-southeast 212 Km to its confl uence with Brahmaputra, and continues as the Padma River for another 100 Km to its confl uence with the Meghna River at Chandpur (Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) 1997; FAO 1999). The basin occupies 30% of the land area of India (Revenga 1998; United States Central Intelligence Agency 2006) and is heavily populated, increasing in population density downstream to Bangladesh, the most densely populated country in the world (WRI 2003; Rashid & Kabir 1998). Approximately one in twelve people in the world (8%) live in its catchment area (Newby 1998). The cultural and economic signifi cance of the Ganges is enormous. The river is a centre of social and religious tradition (Adel 2001) and is particularly sacred in Hinduism.

The Indus river basin
The Indus river basin spans parts of four countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China) in an area that is more than 30% arid, and much drier than the nearby Ganges river basin (WRI 2003). The Indus River is critical for Pakistan’s 160 million people, and irrigates 80% of its 21.5 million ha of agricultural land (Rizvi 2001; CIA 2006a). The watershed is also an area of rich biodiversity, particularly where it opens to the Arabian Sea. The Indus river delta is a highly productive area for freshwater fauna and an important region for water birds (Ramsar Convention on Wetlands 2003). The Indus is home to 25 amphibian species and 147 fish species of which 22 are found nowhere else in the world. It harbors the endangered Indus River Dolphin, one of the world’s rarest mammals, with a population of no more than 1,100 individuals (WRI 2003; Ramsar Convention on Wetlands 2003; WWF 2005f). Due to reduced river infl ows, the delta has lost significant portions of its mangroves (WWF 2004).

 The La Plata basin is the second largest river basin in South America, crossing fi ve countries: Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Bolivia (Bereciartua and Novillo 2002). The Rio de la Plata basin has three main tributaries, the Paraná, the Paraguay and the Uruguay Rivers. The Paraná tributary river basin supplies the Brazilian cities Sao Paolo and Brasilia (Hulme 1999). Although the Paraná basin alone supports 19 large cities of more than 100,000 people, the per capita water supply per person is ample (WRI 2003).

Freshwater biodiversity is rich. There are over 350 fi sh species– the third highest among medium sized basins (WRI 2003). Of these, 85 are found nowhere else in the world (Revenga et al. 2000). This basin is also home to the rare La Plata River Dolphin (Reeves et al. 2003), and the only species of lungfi sh found in the Neotropics, Lepidosiren paradoxa (WWF 2005d). La Plata’s Pantanal wetlands, located mostly in southwest Brazil but also extending to southeast Bolivia and northern Paraguay, are the largest freshwater wetland in the world, covering 140,000 Km2, and home to a vast array of wildlife (Bennett & Thorp no date; Living Lakes Partnership 2005). This biological diversity encompasses 650 species of birds - including parrots, hawks, eagles, kites, 260 species of fi sh, 90 species of reptiles, over 1,600 species of fl owering plants, and over 80 species of mammals - including ocelots, jaguars, and tapirs (Hulme 1999; Living Lakes Partnership 2005). Thousands of permanent and semi-permanent lakes and ponds supporting the most diverse floating aquatic plant community in the world cover the Pantanal’s lowest areas (Por 1995 in WWF 2001a). During the wet season, this wetland acts as a gigantic natural control mechanism for the floodwaters of the Paraguay River (Hulme 1999).

The Murray and Darling Rivers

 Despite these variable conditions, the Murray-Darling is home to abundant aquatic plant and animal life. In the Murray-Darling basin, there are around 30,000 wetlands, 12 of these are internationally recognized Ramsar sites (Australian Government 2005a). The basin is known for its diversity of crayfish and freshwater snails (Revenga et al. 2000; WRI 2003), and is home to 16 mammal and 35 bird species that are nationally endangered (Australian Government 2005a). Despite the relatively low number of endemic fish species (seven in total), it is home to fl agship species such as the Silver Perch, Freshwater Catfish and the large Murray Cod all of which are in rapid decline (WRI 2003; Barrett 2004).

The Mekong River Basin
The exceptional fishery in the Mekong River is based on the ecological boost provided by the annual wet season flood of its extensive floodplain, particularly the back flow of the river into the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia. The scale of this beneficial flooding and consequent fish harvest is threatened by the present and potential impoundment of floodwaters behind 58 existing and 149 proposed large dams, and by roads in the floodplains.

The Nile River -Lake Victoria Basin

 The Nile River-Lake Victoria basin falls within ten countries (Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea) (WRI 2003), and is roughly the size of India. The Nile is also the longest river on earth, and meanders through a watershed that is more than 30% arid (Encyclopedia Britannica 2006a; Revenga et al. 1998). The longer of two branches, the White Nile, extends from the mountains east of Lake Tanganyika, through Lake Victoria, to the Nile delta at the Mediterranean Sea (WWF 2001). The shorter branch, the Blue Nile, springs from the Ethiopian Highlands, joining the longer branch in central Sudan, and contributes the majority of water entering Egypt (WWF 2001)52The Nile River-Lake Victoria basin falls within ten countries (Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea) (WRI 2003), and is roughly the size of India. The Nile is also the longest river on earth, and meanders through a watershed that is more than 30% arid (Encyclopedia Britannica 2006a; Revenga et al. 1998). The longer of two branches, the White Nile, extends from the mountains east of Lake Tanganyika, through Lake Victoria, to the Nile delta at the Mediterranean Sea (WWF 2001). The shorter branch, the Blue Nile, springs from the Ethiopian Highlands, joining the longer branch in central Sudan, and contributes the majority of water entering Egypt (WWF 2001).

Rio Grande - Rio Bravo

 The second longest river in the United States, the Rio Grande flows from the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, south through New Mexico. Turning to the southeast, it forms the border between the United States (Texas) and Mexico for approximately two thirds of its course, opening into a small sandy delta at the Gulf of Mexico (United States Geological Service (USGS) no date; Horgan 1991; Saunders 1996). The basin is more than 30% arid and drains an area greater than the size of California (WRI 2003; Saunders 1996; Revenga et al. 1998). Through the stretch from Laredo/Nuevo Laredo to the mouth, the river constitutes the primary source of drinking water for communities in both Mexico and the United States (Saunders 1996). Despite the rapidly growing economy, the basin is one of the poorest regions in the US, where many live in shanties without access to running water (WWF 2004d). The basin is facing per capita water scarcity (WRI 2003), and by 2025, will likely descend into further water scarcity (Revenga et al. 2000). The Rio Grande basin is a globally important region for freshwater biodiversity (Revega et al. 2000). The Rio Grande supports 121 fi sh species, 69 of which are found nowhere else on the planet. There are three areas supporting endemic bird species as well as a very high level of mollusk diversity (Revenga et al. 1998; WRI 2003; Grommbridge & Jenkins 1998).
Salween, Nujiang or Nu River

The Salween river basin is more than twice the size of England, the second largest river basin in southeast Asia and one of the last free-fl owing international rivers in Asia5 (WWF 2005b;
Goichot 2006). Shared by China, Myanmar (formally Burma) and Thailand, 6 million people live in the Salween watershed and depend on the river for their livelihoods, dietary protein, and nutrient rich food particularly during the dry season (IRN 2004).

The Salween flows from the Tibetan Plateau adjacent to the Mekong and the Yangtze, in the “Three Parallel Rivers” World Heritage area, at the epicentre of biodiversity in China6 (Kunming Institute of Botany & University of Bern 2005; IRN 2004). In the upper Salween’s Nujiang Prefecture in China, 92% of the population consists of ethnic and religious minorities (Public Open Letter 2005). Along the Thai and Myanmar border, there are over 13 ethnic groups living in traditional communities on the river’s banks (EarthRights International 2004). Currently, there is also ample water per person (WRI 2003).

Friday, 26 September 2014

World Tourism Day 2014, 27 September



This year's observance of World Tourism Day focuses on the ability of tourism to fully empower people. Engaging local populations in tourism development builds stronger and more resilient communities.
Tourism helps people to develop a variety of skills. As a service sector with cross-cutting impact on agriculture, construction or handicrafts, tourism creates millions of jobs and business opportunities. Its capacity to lift people from poverty, promote gender empowerment and help protect the environment has made it a vital tool for achieving positive change in communities across the world. 
Harnessing tourism's benefits will be critical to achieving the sustainable development goals and implementing the post-2015 development agenda.
On World Tourism Day, I encourage the international tourism community to commit to sustainable policies and ensure that host communities worldwide share in the benefits generated by tourism.

Ban Ki-moon

Each time we travel, use local transport at a destination or buy products from a local market we are contributing to a long value chain that creates jobs, provides livelihoods, empowers local communities, and ultimately brings in new opportunities for a better future.
The theme of World Tourism Day 2014Tourism and Community Development – brings to the forefront the potential that tourism has to promote new socio-economic opportunities and better livelihoods for communities around the world while highlighting the critical role that community engagement has in advancing sustainable development.
Tourism is a people-based economic activity built on social interaction, and as such can only prosper if it engages the local population by contributing to social values such as participation, education and enhanced local governance. At the same time, there can be no real tourism development if such development damages in any way the values and the culture of host communities or if the socio-economic benefits generated by the tourism sector do not trickle down to the community level. As stated in the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, “local populations should be associated with tourism activities and share equitably in the economic, social and cultural benefits they generate”. 
As we approach the 2015 deadline established for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and prepare to embrace the new Sustainable Development Goals, this year’s World Tourism Day represents an opportunity to further advance tourism’s contribution to economic, social and environmental sustainability. Empowering individuals and communities around the world at all levels through tourism can be a fundamental step towards these goals.  
On the occasion of World Tourism Day 2014, I would like to invite all tourism stakeholders and host communities to come together and celebrate this day as a symbol of our common efforts in making tourism a true pillar of community development and community development the basis of a more sustainable tourism sector. 

Taleb Rifai
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

This year’s World Tourism Day (WTD) draws special attention to the role of tourism in contributing to one of the building blocks of a more sustainable future for all: Community development. This focus is in line with the global transition to the Sustainable Development Goals as the guiding principle promoted by the UN from 2015 and beyond.

As a sector representing 9% of global GDP, one in 11 jobs worldwide, and a key revenue sector for developing and emerging economies, tourism is widely acknowledged for its capacity to respond to global challenges. The consolidation of tourism’s economic influence has built up its social responsibility and political relevance, with a growing number of countries allocating a stronger mandate to tourism in economic and development policy planning.

With the special focus on the community, WTD 2014 highlights how tourism can be conducive to advancing sustainable development from the grassroots level. Community based tourism involves the local population in the decision making process according to local priorities. The opportunity to become part of the tourism value chain actively involves host communities in the development process. Tourism thus becomes a catalyst of social cohesion, going beyond the immediate impact of job creation and its positive economic consequences and enhances, for instance, local governance capabilities which multiply the tourism impact even further.

This year's official celebrations will take place in Guadalajara, Mexico and include a high-level Think Tank on the 2014 theme with the participation of tourism Ministers, international experts and policy makers in the field of tourism and development.

To keep up-to-date with this year’s WTD activities, and to learn more about the theme Tourism & Community Development, bookmark the WTD website and follow UNWTO on Facebook and Twitter (hashtag #WTD2014).

Join the Forum : 27 September is World Tourism Day.
 World Tourism Day (WTD) is held annually on 27 September.
Its purpose is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value

Partners Voices : 

World Tourism Day 2014 Official Event : Programme and Registration

The official 2014 WTD celebrations will be held in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, on 27 September.
Interested in attending?  Please send your full name and contact details to in order to receive an online registration link.

Accreditation desks will be open in Guadalajara, at locations to be determined, one day before the celebration.
The preliminary version of the programme of the official WTD celebrations;

International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons 2014, September 26th

"Nuclear disarmament is one of the greatest legacies we can pass on to future generations." 
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

Background of the Day

 First proposed in October 2013, resolution A/RES/ 68/32 was meant as a follow-up to the high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament held on 26 September 2013 in the UN General Assembly.

The resolution, approved by the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, which deals with nuclear disarmament, inter alia calls for the “urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament  for the early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons to prohibit their possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer and use or threat of use, and to provide for their destruction.”

The resolution “declares 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons devoted to furthering this objective [the total elimination of nuclear weapons], including through enhancing public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination, in order to mobilize international efforts towards achieving the common goal of a weapon” and furthermore “decides to convene, no later than 2018, a United Nations  high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament to review the progress made in this regard.”

The resolution was approved by a vote of 129-28 with 19 abstentions.  The United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution on 5 December 2013 with a vote of 137-28 with 20 abstentions.

  U.N. General Assembly: International Day for the Total elimination of Nuclear Weapons 2014 - Informal meeting of the plenary, at the ministerial level


the powerful Civil society presentation to the UN General Assembly on eliminating all weapons of mass destruction. - See more at:
the powerful Civil society presentation to the UN General Assembly on eliminating all weapons of mass destruction. - See more at:

World Maritime Day 2014, September 25

At a time when the world is beset by conflict and crisis, it is easy to forget that, day in and day out, the international shipping industry works quietly and efficiently to keep the wheels of global trade in motion and ensure the timely delivery of the goods and commodities on which we all rely.

For more than 50 years, international conventions developed by the International Maritime Organization have made global shipping progressively safer, more secure and more environment-friendly. There are more than 50 in all. Collectively, they are aimed at strengthening maritime safety and security, protecting the marine environment, mitigating the negative effects of accidents or establishing regulations covering liability and compensation for damage.

The real value of those conventions can be fully realized only if they are properly implemented. This entails early entry into force, broad participation, effective policies and programmes, stringent oversight and vigorous enforcement. Shipping States, coastal States and the shipping industry itself all have a part to play.

On World Maritime Day, let us recall the often unheralded but always vital contribution by international shipping to peoples and communities all over the world.  I urge all concerned to strengthen their efforts to achieve the full and effective implementation of all IMO conventions.

Ban Ki-moon
Over the years, IMO has built up an enviable track record for developing and adopting new international conventions. There are more than 50 altogether. Collectively, they are aimed at either the prevention of accidents or environmental damage; at mitigating the negative effects of accidents when they do occur, or at ensuring that adequate compensation is available for the victims of such accidents.

While most of these are in force and have done so much to make shipping safer, more efficient and more environment friendly, there are still several conventions for which a slow pace of ratification and a lack of implementation are serious causes for concern.

This is why I believe that the theme selected for World Maritime Day 2014 – namely “IMO conventions: effective implementation” – is so important. Through it, we have taken the opportunity to shine a spotlight on those IMO treaty instruments which have not yet entered into force, as well as those for which ratification by more States would lead to more effective implementation.

For an IMO convention to be properly effective, it needs early entry into force, widespread ratification, effective implementation, stringent oversight of compliance and vigorous enforcement. Even those conventions that command almost universal coverage of the global fleet, such as SOLAS and MARPOL, only have teeth if they are backed up by an effective implementation infrastructure at the national level.

Our efforts with regard to conventions yet to enter into force have been particularly focused on the Ballast Water Management Convention, the Hong Kong Convention on ship recycling, the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 to implement the Torremolinos Protocol on fishing vessel safety, the 2010 Protocol to the HNS Convention and the Nairobi Convention on wreck removal. Although there has been welcome success this year in terms of new ratifications – indeed the Nairobi Convention will enter into force next year – much remains to be done and we will continue our efforts to the end of the year and beyond.

The wider and more complete implementation of measures already in place has also been a major element of this year’s theme. Energy efficiency measures for ships, the availability of fuel oil to meet increasingly stringent sulphur content requirements, and the verification of goal-based ship construction standards, have all featured strongly in the Organization’s work this year and all contribute towards wider and more effective implementation of measures already agreed or in place.

Implementation of IMO measures is, ultimately, the responsibility of the Member States and the industry – and the forthcoming mandatory audit scheme for Member States will be an important tool for assessing Member States’ performance in meeting their obligations and responsibilities as flag, port and coastal States under the relevant IMO treaties.

But the Organization itself, including the Secretariat, also has a role to play. The extensive technical cooperation programme, in which we identify particular needs among Member States that may lack resources, expertise or both, and match them to offers of help and assistance from others, is a key element in this respect, helping states to meet their obligations fully and effectively.

A slow pace of ratification, a prolonged state of non-fulfilment of entry-into-force conditions, a lack of compliance oversight and of enforcement mechanisms all add up to ineffective implementation, which in turn prevents the benefits enshrined in IMO measures from being fully felt.

During the course of this year, our theme has enabled us to make genuine progress towards ratification, entry into force and implementation of all IMO conventions – but especially those which have yet to be widely accepted.

And this is what IMO is really all about. Debates, discussions and resolutions in committees and sub committees are all very well: but it is how we apply what emerges from that process to the ships, ports and seafarers who operate daily at the “sharp end” of shipping that really matters.

Koji Sekimizu.
 Forum : World Maritime Day - 25 September.
 Podcast :  Find out the answers: What is World Maritime Day? What are the aims of this year’s theme and how will it be celebrated at IMO HQ and around the world?

The theme for this year's World Maritime Day "IMO conventions: effective implementation" was chosen in order to provide an opportunity to shine a spotlight on those IMO treaty instruments, which have not yet entered into force, as well as those for which ratification by more States and more effective implementation would yield significant benefits.


Events : This year's World Maritime Day Parallel Event will be held in Morocco from 27 - 29 October 2014.

World Maritime Day 2014 Background Paper 

Why we celebrate World Maritime Day ?

Effective implentation through Port State Control
Effective implentation through OPRC convention
Effective implentation through Flag States  

Sunday, 21 September 2014

International Day of Peace, September 21st

To mark the 30th anniversary of the General Assembly Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, the theme of this year’s International Day of Peace is the “Right of Peoples to Peace”. This anniversary offers a unique opportunity to reaffirm the United Nations commitment to the purposes and principles upon which the Organization was founded.
The Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace recognizes that the promotion of peace is vital for the full enjoyment of all human rights.

Message from the United Nations Secratary-General on the occasion of the International Day of Peace 2014.

 Today is the International Day of Peace.

Each year, on this day, the United Nations calls for a global ceasefire.
We ask combatants to put down their arms so all can breathe the air of peace.
Armed conflict causes untold grief to families, communities and entire countries.

Too many are suffering today at the brutal hands of warmongers and terrorists.
Let us stand with them in solidarity.
Peace and security are essential foundations for social progress and sustainable development.

That is why, three decades ago, the United Nations affirmed the right of peoples to peace.
Throughout the coming year, we will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.
Our organisation is founded on the pledge to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
We have made much progress.
But much remains to be done.
We must douse the fires of extremism and tackle the root causes of conflict.

Peace is a long road that we must travel together – step by step, beginning today.
Let us all observe a minute of silence, at noon.
Let us all reflect on peace – and what it means for our human family.
Let us hold it in our hearts and minds and tenderly nurture it so it may grow and blossom. 

Ban Ki-moon

 Message from the President of the United Nations General Assembly on the International Day of Peace 2014.


Mr. Secretary-General,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to participate in the Peace Bell Ceremony this morning, a time honored tradition in celebration of the International Day of Peace.
Thirty years ago, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Peoples to Peace, reaffirming that the aspiration for peace is universal among all peoples and that every human being should have a right to live in a peaceful environment.
As the Peace Bell rings today, belligerents across the world are called upon to lay down their weapons and observe a day of ceasefire.
We are called upon to turn our attention to the plight of populations caught in the grip of war, living in fear and uncertainty. We are reminded of the lives lost, property destroyed, families and communities torn apart and development efforts disrupted.

Today, we should recommit our efforts towards the peaceful resolution of conflicts and the building of lasting peace. This organization was founded to rid our world of the scourge of war. It is our duty and collective responsibility to promote tolerance, dialogue and peaceful settlement of disputes.

Peace is a prerequisite for the achievement of sustainable development. Therefore, on this International Day of Peace, let us rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of peace across the world. May the ringing of the Peace Bell today send a message of peace and hope that resonates loud and clear across the world. The people afflicted by the scourge of violent conflict deserve to live in peace. As Dag Hammarskjold stated sixty years ago, "The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat.
The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned."

I thank you for your attention.

John W. Ashe

Resources :

Forum  : Join the discussions on the  International Day of Peace - September 21.

 The 2014 Global Peace Index score deteriorated slightly for the sixth year in a row continuing to record a gradual slide in global peacefulness since 2008.


For 2014, five out of the nine geographical regions experienced an improvement in peace and, among those that became less peaceful, substantial changes in the Index were only seen in two: sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which continues to suffer from the political aftermath of the Arab Spring. Yet again, Europe maintained its position as the most peaceful region in the world, supported by a lack of domestic and external conflicts. The largest improvement, however, was seen in what nevertheless remains the world’s most violent region, South Asia, which includes Afghanistan. In terms of societal safety and security, an improvement in the relative number of jailed population was coupled with a deterioration in the level of violent crime.

The perception of criminality in society deteriorated accordingly. Aside from sub-Saharan Africa, where criminality is often fuelled by ethnic strife and political unrest, Latin America clearly remained the world’s most violent region in terms of crime, as highlighted by its poor results in most related categories, particularly in Central America and the Caribbean, where many of the world’s highest homicide rates can be found. Generally lower (better) scores were also seen in political instability and political terror although it is notable that the former category deteriorated slightly in Europe, which over the past few years has suffered from austerity-driven dissatisfaction and unrest. Meanwhile, the political terror score also improved or remained static in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa, which points to less widespread use of state repression on a global scale. This bodes well for the gradual consolidation of democratic institutions in some of the world’s more fragile states, although higher likelihood of violent demonstrations in many regions stands out as a latent risk.

Finally, the number of refugees and displaced persons rose during the past year, exacerbated by internal conflict in the Middle East and North Africa primarily, but also in certain Latin American countries, notably Colombia and Haiti. In the case of Colombia, a potential peace plan between government and FARC rebels offers hope of an end to one of the region’s most long-standing conflicts. With regards to domestic and international conflict, a fall in the number of deaths from organised external conflict was offset by a rise in those originating from internal conflict, triggered primarily by a small number of severe crises in key global hotspots. In the case of sub-Saharan Africa, this was largely driven by the outbreak of ethnic warfare in South Sudan, Central African Republic and Mali, which although internal in origin has impacted relations with neighbouring countries as well as foreign powers (in the last two cases resulting in French military intervention).

The Middle East and North Africa also performed poorly in the relevant categories as a result of the added international dimension of the Syrian civil war, which, during 2013, came close to involving military operations by the Western powers before an agreement was reached to dismantle Syria’s chemical-weapons arsenal. The ousting of president Mohammed Morsi and the violence that preceded and followed it also resulted in Egypt dragging down the region’s scores significantly; in fact, the Middle East and North Africa was the only region in the world not to see an improvement in at least one of the five of the indicators that comprise the domestic and international conflict dimension (it worsened in four).

Elsewhere, the main flare-up has been the ongoing crisis between Russia and the Ukraine, which was triggered by the Euromaidan protests in November 2013 and later escalated into a Russian military intervention in the Crimea. Aside from incidents in these three regions, however, there was very little in the way of international conflict during the past year, one which saw no major war between states. Nevertheless, tense relationships between the two Koreas, concerns over China’s growing military assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region, and the everpresent possibility that the Russia-Ukraine standoff could escalate into all out military conflict suggest these as a potential hotspots for conflict in the future.

Lastly, the militarisation domain was characterised by a widespread reduction in the number of armed services personnel. This was contrasted by an overall rise in military expenditure as a percentage of GDP in three key regions; Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and (especially) the Middle East and North Africa. The arms trade also saw a fall in inter-European transfers (both exports and imports), but the flow of Russian arms to the Middle East and Asia-Pacific continued. Much of this has been sent to support Syrian government forces against the rebels which, in contrast, have received much lower quantities of weaponry from the West. A major positive development has been the decrease in nuclear and heavy weapons capabilities. This trend has been most evident in some of the world’s most militarized regions such as Europe, Russia and Eurasia, and the Middle East and North Africa, although in the latter case this was partly due to losses incurred by Syrian government forces in the civil war.

This broad improvement, however, may prove to be short-lived if there is greater impetus for rearmament among NATO countries as a result of Russian aggression. This would be particularly evident in some of the NATO states bordering (or close to) Russia itself but could also affect core countries like Germany which over the past few years have trimmed down their armed forces and stocks of heavy weaponry.

For more information visit

The Right of Peoples to Peace

Ban Ki-moon - Peace bell ceremony, International Day of Peace 2014

19 Sep 2014 - Remarks by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the peace bell ceremony to commemorate the International Day of Peace 2014. Remarks
19 Sep 2014 - Remarks by Sam Kahamba Kutesa, President of the United Nations General Assembly’s sixty-ninth session at the peace bell ceremony to commemorate the International Day of Peace 2014. 

The 2014 theme – The Right of Peoples to Peace – marks the 30th anniversary of the General Assembly Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace. This anniversary offers a unique opportunity to reaffirm the Declaration’s central message that humanity’s sustainable progress and the realization of fundamental rights and freedoms depend on peace and security.
19 Sep 2014 - Remarks by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the opening of the Student Observance on the occasion of the International Day of Peace 2014 "The Right of Peoples to Peace"

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer 2014, September 16th

Protecting Ozone, Protecting You, The Mission goes on , 16 September 2014

United Nations Secretary-General's Message on the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, 16 September 2014.

Just over a quarter-century ago, the world united to reverse the rapid depletion of the atmospheric ozone layer, which protects Earth from harmful radiation from space. Today, the ozone layer is well on track to recovery within the next few decades.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is widely recognized as one of the most successful environmental treaties in history. It establishes legally binding controls on the national production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances, and enjoys universal ratification by 197 parties.

Recent scientific findings reveal the importance of the Montreal Protocol. Without the Protocol and associated agreements, atmospheric levels of ozone-depleting substances could have increased ten-fold by 2050. Concerted action has prevented millions of cases of skin cancer.

The Protocol has also significantly contributed to the fight against climate change, as many ozone-depleting substances are powerful greenhouse gases. Climate change is affecting communities, economies and ecosystems across the globe.  It is essential that we act to mitigate the threat with the same unity of purpose as we have in facing the dangers of ozone depletion.

Let us take inspiration from our efforts to preserve the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol has shown that decisive action by the international community, including the private sector, can achieve transformative results for the common good. Let us learn from this example and apply its lesson to the urgent task of addressing the climate challenge.

Ban Ki-moon

Resources : 
Latest ozone measurements
Forum International Day of the Ozone Layer - September 16.

PublicationScientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion : 2014.

 The Earth's protective ozone layer is well on track to recovery in the next few decades thanks to concerted international action against ozone depleting substances, according to a new assessment by 300 scientists.
The Assessment for Decision-Makers, a summary document of the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014, is being published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and is the first comprehensive update in four years.

Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion : 2014

Sunday, 14 September 2014

International Day of Democracy 2014, September 15


As we observe this year’s International Day of Democracy, the world seems more turbulent than ever. In many regions and in many ways, the values of the United Nations, including some of the most fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the UN Charter, are being tested and challenged.

Recent outbreaks of violence reinforce a truth we have seen time and again: that where societies are not inclusive, and where governments are not responsive and accountable, peace, equality and shared prosperity cannot take hold. We need to do more to empower individuals, focusing on the billions of people who are underprivileged, marginalized, jobless, hopeless and understandably frustrated. We need to ensure they are heard and can take an active part in their future.

That is why my message today goes out to those who will be at the forefront of the world beyond 2015, and who by nature are at a turning point in their own lives: young people. One person out of five today is between the ages of 15 and 24. Never before has the transition from youth to adulthood been so weighed by challenges, yet so blessed by opportunities. You have powers to network that would have been unimaginable when the United Nations was founded nearly 70 years ago. You are connecting about issues that matter. Injustice. Discrimination. Human rights abuses. The discourse of hate. The need for human solidarity.

I call on members of the largest generation of youth in history to confront challenges and consider what you can do to resolve them. To take control of your destiny and translate your dreams into a better future for all. To contribute to building stronger and better democratic societies. To work together, to use your creative thinking, to become architects of a future that leaves no one behind. To help set our world on course for a better future.

On this International Day of Democracy, I call on young people everywhere to lead a major push for inclusive democracy around the world.  

Ban Ki-moon. 


Organised by the United Nations Working Group on Democracy, the International Peace Institute, the Community of Democracies, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and International IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance).

- Do young people find politics irrelevant and dull? 
- Have young people discovered more powerful tools for democratic change than any generation before them?

People between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five constitute one-fifth of the world’s population, and in many developing countries the proportion is even higher. However, numerous studies show decreasing levels of youth participating in elections, political parties, and traditional social organizations. At the same time, informal, youth-led movements for democratic change are on the rise. Using new communication tools, young people are making their mark on democracy-building in untraditional ways.

The United Nations, several other international organizations, and a range of civil society groups have set out to facilitate and support the participation of young people in democracy worldwide.

- But what is the reality on the ground? How do young people engage in politics and policymaking? 
- How can they contribute to creating more inclusive and participatory democracies? 
- What challenges are they encountering? 
- How do they perceive the role of the international community in strengthening young people’s engagement with democracy? 
- How do they view the changes brought about by young people in the Arab Spring and elsewhere, and what are the lessons learned?

Venue: Trygve Lie Center for Peace, Security & Development; International Peace Institute; 777 United Nations Plaza, 12th Floor
When : Monday, September 15, 2014
Hours : 1:00pm – 2:45pm

Introductory Remarks:
Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
Warren Hoge, Senior Adviser for External Relations at the International Peace Institute
  • Hafsa Afailal, Programme Officer, Médiateur pour la Démocratie et les Droits de l'Homme, Rabat, Morocco
  • Gustavo Arturo Martínez Rodríguez, Youth Volunteer, Coordinadora Intersectorial Pro Juventudes de El Salvador, San Salvador, El Salvador
  • Farkhunda Zahra Naderi, Member of Afghanistan Parliament, Lower House, Kabul, Afghanistan
We hope you can join the engaging and dynamic discussion on this important issue.

For more information, please visit the International Peace Institute. Register here.
You can follow the live webcast.

Forum :  Join the forum of discussion about the  International Day of Democracy- 15 September

Resources : Publications

Best Practices Manual on Democracy Education - Council for a community of Democracies

This Best Practices Manual on Democracy Education is the culmination of more than a decade during which the Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD) has made democracy education a priority for the Community of Democracies (CD) and the democracy community at large.

Whether in South Africa, Chile, Poland, Korea, or Tunisia, the struggle to establish democracy has been a noble and heroic one, fraught with great sacrifice. We have come to realize that the great democratic
transformations that have swept the globe, if they are to endure and fulfill the aspirations of a people, require more than the ouster of a dictator and more even than free and fair elections. If democracy is truly to take root, an extensive institutional framework and, perhaps more importantly, the active participation of a population are needed if a government of the people — democracy — is to survive and thrive. That participation can only be generated if the people of the new democracy are educated, informed, and encouraged to exercise their rights. Our premise is that education for democracy is the glue that sustains and holds a democratic system together.

Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns - A Handbook on Political Finance. (IDEA)

All political parties need funding to play their part in the political process, yet the role of money in politics is arguably the biggest threat to democracy today. This global threat knows no boundaries, evident across all continents from huge corporate campaign donations in the United States and drug money seeping into politics in Latin America, to corruption scandals throughout Asia and Europe. Attempts to tackle these challenges through political finance laws and regulations are often undermined by a lack of political will or capacity, as well as poorly designed and enforced measures.
This handbook addresses the problems of money in politics by analysing political finance regulations around the world and providing guidance for reform. The chapters are divided by region; each assesses the current state of regulations in relation to its challenges and offers a series of recommendations to tackle the identified shortcomings. This contextual approach has the benefit of revealing regional trends and patterns. An additional chapter focuses on gender, reflecting the reality that women remain grossly under-represented in politics, and how the increasing influence of money in politics perpetuates this inequality.

 More publications of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA)

Freedom in the world 2014

An Eighth Year of Decline in Political Rights and Civil Liberties.

The state of freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2013, according to Freedom in the World 2014, Freedom House’s annual country-by-country report on global political rights and civil liberties.

Particularly notable were developments in Egypt, which endured across-the-board reversals in its democratic institutions following a military coup. There were also serious setbacks to democratic rights in other large, politically influential countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Venezuela, and Indonesia.

Middle East and North Africa
The Middle East and North Africa registered the worst civil liberties scores of any region. Gains: Iraq’s political rights rating improved as the result of greater political activity by opposition parties during provincial elections, and Tunisia earned an increase in its civil liberties rating. Declines: Egypt saw its status decline from Partly Free to Not Free. The Gaza Strip received a decline in its political rights rating.

Sub-Saharan Africa
In recent years, sub-Saharan Africa has been the most politically volatile region, with major democratic breakthroughs in some countries, and coups, insurgencies, and authoritarian crackdowns in others. This trend continued in 2013. Gains: Mali moved from Not Free to Partly Free due to successful elections and an improved security situation in the north. Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, and Zimbabwe all saw ratings improvements. Declines: The Central African Republic dropped from Partly Free to Not Free because of a rebellion that ousted the president and parliament and suspended the constitution, and Sierra Leone’s status declined from Free to Partly Free due to persistent problems with corruption. Ratings declines were also seen in South Sudan and Uganda.

Eurasia continues to be one of the most repressive areas in the world. Three of its countries—Belarus, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—are among the worst-rated. Russia intensified domestic persecution of political opponents and vulnerable minority groups in 2013. Gains: None. Declines: Azerbaijan suffered a downgrade in its civil liberties rating due to blatant property rights violations by the government.

China became increasingly intolerant of dissent in 2013, as officials expanded the criminalization of online speech and police arrested dozens of activists who had advocated anticorruption reforms. Gains: Bhutan, Japan, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga all registered improvements. Declines: Indonesia’s status declined from Free to Partly Free due to a new law restricting the activities of nongovernmental organizations. South Korea registered a downgrade in its political rights rating.

The death in March 2013 of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez brought early hopes of improvements in the country’s political rights and civil liberties environment. However, his successor, Nicolás Maduro, further weakened the independent media, reduced the opposition’s ability to serve as a check on government policy, and made threats to civil society groups. Gains: Nicaragua’s political rights and civil liberties ratings improved due consultations on proposed constitutional reforms, gradual improvements for the rights of women, and advances in efforts to combat human trafficking. Declines: The Dominican Republic and Panama suffered declines due to the stripping of citizenship from Dominicans of Haitian descent and the Panamanian government’s corruption problems.

Most countries in Europe showed respect for democratic standards and civil liberties, even as many faced growing nationalist sentiment in response to an influx of immigrants. However, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan displayed increasingly authoritarian tendencies, including a crackdown on protesters in Istanbul and a campaign against critical voices in the media. Gains: Italy’s political rights rating rose following free and fair national elections and improvements in the country’s anticorruption environment.