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As if there weren’t enough problems to worry about down here on earth, there is a growing number of threats to global peace in outer space too, which is why UN-led talks are underway all this week in Geneva to find common ground on cosmic security.
Chairing the first open-ended working group on reducing space threats, veteran Chilean diplomat Hellmut Lagos explained to UN News’s Daniel Johnson why space matters to us all, and what Member States are most concerned about.
Audio Credit: Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit: UNODA/Michael Spies
Children are the most vulnerable in times of armed conflict. Wars and hostilities deprive them of their lives, families, homes, essentially from their very childhood. Despite the horrors they have endured, children have a chance to recover from atrocities and become positive agents of change in their communities. The photo exhibit “From Despair to Hope: Children Beyond Armed Conflict,” organized by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, aims at reflecting on the complexity of the lives of children amidst conflict, emphasizing both the tragedy and the faith in a better future.
Resilience among ordinary Ukrainians is remarkable but if the war goes on much longer, it threatens 20 years of development gains, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), has warned. From Lviv in western Ukraine, here’s Manal Fouani, UNDP lead in the country, describing to UN News’s Daniel Johnson the many and varied challenges that the country faces, seven weeks since the Russian invasion began.
A new low in the war in Ukraine has made headlines around the world this week, with the discovery that hundreds of civilians have been killed in the city of Bucha, in areas previously controlled by Russian troops. Early testimonies from survivors indicate that the victims were “directly targeted” and killed, according to the UN rights office, OHCHR. Responding to claims from Russia that the incident is nothing more than fake news, here’s spokesperson Liz Throssell, talking to UN News’s Daniel Johnson.
The International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action highlights the achievements of the mine action community, starting with the work of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, founded in 1992 and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. “Safe Ground” refers to clearing the earth of landmines and other explosive hazards to make it safe. “Safe Steps” brings attention to the trepidation that too many people experience not knowing if they will detonate an explosive. “Safe Home” is about restoring the personal security of individuals and communities in post-conflict settings.
11 years after the violent suppression of peaceful, popular demonstrations, Syria is still mired in war. More than 14 million civilians need humanitarian assistance with 12 million displaced, including over 6 million outside the country. The UN reports that at least 350,000 have been killed. Meanwhile, tens of thousands are detained, tortured, missing, or disappeared. Many rounds of peace talks have been attempted, and the UN Special Envoy for Syria is working with a committee to draw up a new constitution leading to free and fair elections supervised by the UN. But progress has been elusive.
The war in Ukraine poses an immediate and growing threat to the lives and well-being of the country’s 7.5 million children. Humanitarian needs are multiplying by the hour as fighting intensifies. Children continue to be killed, wounded and deeply traumatized by the devastating violence all around them. Families are terrified, in shock, and desperate for safety. UNICEF is working with partners to reach vulnerable children and families with essential services – including health, education, protection, water and sanitation – as well as life-saving supplies.
Angelina Jolie, the Special Envoy for UNHCR, is in Yemen this week to draw attention to the devastating consequences of the seven-year-old conflict on the civilian population. Yemen’s protracted conflict has resulted in thousands of civilian casualties. Jolie called on all parties to the conflict to respect and commit to international humanitarian law. She also called for all parties to avoid targeting civilians, and to ensure unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need, safe passage for civilians to flee conflict areas, and a negotiated political settlement.
In response to the Russian military offensive in Ukraine which began on 24 February, the United Nations and humanitarian partners are scaling up the delivery of life saving support to people affected by the conflict. Guided by the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, humanity and independence, UN staff are working on both sides of the contact line, to provide humanitarian relief to people in need, particularly women, children, elderly people and those with disabilities. The United Nations launched coordinated humanitarian appeals. Follow the latest developments in the Security Council and General Assembly.
Amid growing international condemnation over Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine, tens of thousands of people are still trying to escape to neighbouring countries, fleeing en masse. This has brought huge numbers to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, where UNICEF’s spokesperson James Elder has been giving an update on the emotional and tense scenes he’s witnessed, to UN News’s Daniel Johnson.
At an event to mark the occasion and to launch the 25th anniversary study, UNICEF's Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said the mandate has achieved concrete results for children: "For example, since 2000, at least 170,000 children have been released from armed forces and armed groups, many having survived multiple violations – including abduction or sexual violence." The UN should continue to prioritize helping these children, who have suffered terrible violence, she added. "We should seize all opportunities to increase visibility and awareness of the terrible impact of conflict on children. We should be courageous in taking steps to end impunity and advance accountability for children in situations of armed conflict."
The Security Council is holding an open debate to address violence that targets women in peace and security processes. The meeting is part of its agenda on Women, peace and security, which recognizes the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women and girls and stresses the importance of women’s leadership and meaningful participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. The implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda is a political commitment in the Secretary General’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative.
Survivors of genocide and other atrocities committed by ISIL fighters in Iraq should rest assured that the international community supports them. That’s the message from Christian Ritscher, head of UNITAD, the special UN team investigating these crimes. While it might appear action is slow coming, he said there is no statute of limitations and crimes can be prosecuted “as long as at least one perpetrator is alive.” Mr. Ritscher was in New York recently and spoke to UN News’s Abdelmonem Makki, prior to presenting the latest UNITAD report to the Security Council.
The shadow cast by chemical weapons over modern history has claimed countless victims, both civilians and soldiers across the globe. On the Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare (30 November), the OPCW honours the memory of the victims of these attacks through its mission to eliminate these weapons, offering hope that they will be the last to experience the horror of chemical warfare. The OPCW’s mission is to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention to achieve a world free of chemical weapons in which chemistry is used for peace, progress, and prosperity.