Tag Archives: UN

Libya: The blitzkreig breaks down: Negotiations Needed by Rene Wadlow

Dozens of people were killed in an air raid on 3 July 2019 on a detention center holding migrants in a camp at Tajoura, a suburb of Tripoli according to the U.N. Support Mission in Libya. Most of those killed and wounded were Africans from Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia who had hoped to reach Europe but were blocked in Libya. Others held in the detention center had been returned to Libya, arrested trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. 

Ilybi01_400n 2018, some 15,000 persons were intercepted on boats at sea and returned to Libya, placed in detention centers without charge and with no date set for release. The detention centers are officially under the control of the Government of National Accord’s Department for Combating Illegal Migration. In practice, most of the detention centers are controlled by militias. The former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has described the conditions in these detention centers as “an outrage to the conscience of humanity.”

Since the outbreak of armed conflict on the outskirts of Tripoli on 3 April 2019, many persons have been killed or wounded in what General Khalifa Hifter hoped would be a blitzkreig advance. He badly underestimated the degree of military response that he would meet from the militias loyal to the Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. Since the blitzkreig bogged down, in the absence of a ceasefire, the humanitarian situation is dramatically degenerating.

The rest of the article HERE!

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Robert Muller (11 March 1923 -20 Sept. 2010) The U.N. Networker by Rene Wadlow

Robert Muller, whose birth anniversary we mark on 11 March, devoted his life to the ideals of the United Nations, working both within the organization in which he became Assistant Secretary-General and in his talks and activities with many associations and conferences. As he wrote, his guideline was the pledge which all U.N. Secretariat members must sign when joining: “ I, Robert Muller, solemnly swear to exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience the functions entrusted to me as an international civil servant of the United Nations, to discharge these functions and to regulate my conduct with the interests of the United Nations only in view, and not to seek or accept instructions in regard to the performance of my duties from any government or other authority external to the organization.”

mulle001_400Muller joined the United Nations in 1948 with a doctorate in economics. Most of his U.N. work was related to socio-economic development in the States born with the end of Western European colonialism. As he wrote, “The human adventure on earth is taking world-wide proportions. We must be bracing ourselves for the staggering problems that lie ahead, and it is fortunate that we possess world-wide instruments at the precise moment of history and evolution when the human species enters its global age. Humanity is equipping itself slowly but surely with collective analytical tools, world-wide warning systems, and a network of feedbacks and monitoring. In other words – a kind of brain and nervous system… The United Nations has become a kind of incipient brain for the human species as a whole. It has taken stock of our planetary home and of our species, so that now we have a good inventory of our present as well as valuable appraisals of our potential futures… If something begins to go wrong on the global level, the United Nations can give a warning.”.  

Robert Muller was particularly active in the preparation and follow up of a series of stocktaking U.N. conferences held especially in the 1970s:

1) World Conference on the Environment – Stockholm – 1972
2) World Food Conference – Rome -1974
3) World Conference on Population – Bucharest -1974
4) World Conference on Women – Mexico City – 1975
5) World Conference on Employment and Basic Needs – Geneva -1976
6) World Conference on Human Settlements – Vancouver – 1976
7) World Water Conference – Mar del Blata -1977
8) World Conference on Desertification – Nairobi – 1977
9) World Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries – Buenos Aires – 1978
10) World Conference on Land Reform – Rome – 1979
11) World Conference on Science and Technology – Vienna -1979

The 1970 Decade ended with the International Year of the Child. The Decade had also seen from 1974 to 1981 the World Conference on the Law of the Sea.

For more HERE!


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UN General Assembly: Can It Provide The Needed Global Leadership?

The United Nations General Assembly began its yearly session on 17 September under the leadership of Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador. In her opening statement she called for stronger global leadership to ensure more peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies. She said that her priorities were contained in the acronym DARE meaning delivery, accountability, relevance and efficiency. The President of the General Assembly is elected for one year. Thus President Espinosa will provide leadership until September 2019, facing continuing challenges to the world society such as climate change, migration, persistent poverty, and armed conflicts. In addition, she said “I am also prepared to facilitate quick and effective responses of the General Assembly to emergency situations as they arise – unfortunately they will arise.”

una01_400In fact, emergency situations arise more quickly than expected. Both deal with the same structural issue – how does the U.N. General Assembly deal with agreements among Member States in which the General Assembly played no role. Nevertheless, the agreements have an impact on States that were not party to the agreement. Now that the agreements are in danger, what is the role of the General Assembly and its President?

The first test starts Monday 24 September and will consider the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) more commonly called the Iran Nuclear Deal. The crux of the compromise agreement was that Iran would restrain its nuclear program – especially aspects that could have military uses ­ in return for the relaxation of economic sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

The US Government, a major player in the agreement, has now withdrawn, seriously weakening the whole agreement. The other U.N. Security Council members and Germany, parties to the agreement, have indicated a willingness to continue the agreement, but all recognize that the application of the agreement is on unsteady ground.

To make matters even more complicated on 5 November, an aspect of the U.S. sanctions policy will come into force: any firm in the world trading with Iran will be unable to use U.S. financial institutions or trade in U.S. dollars. Since a large number of firms deal with the USA and use U.S. financial facilities, the U.S. sanctions policy can have wide application. Already in anticipation of the 5 November start, firms have withdrawn trade agreements with Iran. How the U.N. General Assembly deals with this issue will be a test case for both the General Assembly leadership and for “world public opinion”.

The second test case is the agreement between Russia and Turkey concerning a demilitarized zone near Idlib in Syria close to the Turkish frontier. Both Iran and the Syrian Government led by Bachar Al-Assad are directly impacted by the agreement. The U.N. General Assembly played no direct role in the negotiations of the agreement: Iran, Turkey, Russia being the chief negotiators. The United States and France which have military operations in Syria are concerned as is Israel which is concerned with all that goes on in Syria.

Idlib Governorate has a fairly dense population which has increased considerably with people displaced from other cities and combat zones. In a number of cases, ceasefire agreements had been reached to allow some of the population in these other zones and insurgents to withdraw to Idlib.

There is a wide-spread fear that if there is an attack by Russian and Syrian Government forces within Idlib, there could be a large flow of refugees toward Turkey. To prevent this potential flow toward Turkey, the Turkish government has heavily increased its troops in the frontier zone. Turkey then entered into negotiations with Russia to create a “safe-demilitarized zone” into which the insurgents, having put down their arms, could enter.

However, the different insurgent, opposition movements were not directly involved in the negotiations, and today say that they are not bound by the agreement among governments.

Thus, in a dramatic way, the role of non-governmental armed groups comes to the fore. The United Nations was created to facilitate negotiations and agreement among Member States. A small door was opened through the Charter for a consultative status with ECOSOC for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs had to be accepted by a committee of government representatives. Such consultative status was to be for well-established NGOs and not opposed by the government in which they had their headquarters.

However, since the 1990 end of the Cold War, the role of armed non-governmental forces has grown. U.N. mediators and Special Rapporteurs of the U.N. Council on Human Rights have recognized this fact and have discussed at times with the representatives of armed groups. Nevertheless, the U.N. General Assembly is still government-focused. Syria and Idlib is a crucial example of the new forms of armed conflict. What will be done – or left undone – by the General Assembly needs to be watched closely.

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Together for Peace by Rene Wadlow

The United Nations General Assembly has set 21 September as a Day of Peace. The day was chosen to be as close as possible to the start of the annual U.N. General Assembly, which is called upon to respond to a very diversified set of challenges. The response is usually to raise awareness of the particular issue through discussion. However, short-term geopolitical considerations and national interest, narrowly defined, have repeatedly taken precedence over action on human suffering and grave breaches of international peace and security.

huma001_400Nevertheless the goals of the United Nations are set out in the Preamble to the U.N. Charter:

We the Peoples of the United Nations determined
– to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war
– to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small
– to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained
– to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”

The Preamble is not a shopping list of unrelated goals but rather the result of a wholistic vision: the abolition of war, the re-affirmation of human rights based on the dignity of the human person, the conditions under which justice and international law can be maintained, social progress in larger freedom – all are interrelated. None can be achieved without the others. Thus the work of the United Nations should be carried out in a wholistic spirit.

This year the emphasis of the U.N. Day of Peace is on human rights as it is the 70th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In December 1948, the General Assembly was meeting in Paris as the U.N. did not yet have its permanent home in New York City.

The full article HERE!

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March 22nd, Water Day

Water is life!

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