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Peace and Security
Sweet Victory is a game that introduces players to behavioral science tactics and techniques that are relevant to peace and security questions. It encourages using behavioral science to strengthen resilience against disinformation and political manipulation. Sweet Victory was developed by the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (UN DPPA).
Sexual violence in conflict settings remains widespread and systematic, a recent report by the United Nations Secretary-General found, fuelled by “rising inequality, increased militarization, reduced civic space and the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons, among other factors.” Conflict-related sexual violence – which includes assault, rape, forced marriage, trafficking, sexual slavery, forced sterilization, forced abortion other forms of sexual coercion – is used to instill fear, pain, suffering and censorship in its targets.
“It’s difficult because you’re wondering why others have died and you’re alive. And for those who did not survive […] I felt like having a responsibility somehow to do something that would make them proud of me.” Monique Sokhan survived the Cambodian genocide, having fled the Khmer Rouge terror when she was just a small child. Now, working as Senior Protection Coordinator, at UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, she is still searching for answers about the atrocities that killed many of her family members.
Dedicating her life to humanitarian work, Monique soon found herself face to face with the very people who were responsible for killing her own family and friends. In this special bitesize episode, she reflects on her quest to understand the perpetrators of genocide, on reserving judgement, and on the unanswered questions that continue to haunt her.
Photo: ©UNHCR/Susan Hopper
“What is keeping me awake at night is the horror of knowing that it hasn't ended yet and that there are more people alive today that are very likely to be dead tomorrow.”
Osnat Lubrani knows first-hand the horrors of war. As UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, she has witnessed the dramatic changes since the Russian invasion and rapidly mounting needs as the war tears lives apart across the country. At least 15.7 million Ukrainians are now in urgent need of humanitarian aid, with the UN working to expand existing programs and establish new life-saving operations. Yet access to some of the most vulnerable is proving extremely problematic. In this episode, Osnat Lubrani reflects on the frustrating battle to reach them, what it feels like to receive distressing cries for help, and what gives her hope when all seems lost.
Photo: ©Osnat Lubrani
“Sometimes it can be very overwhelming, you really feel for the people and the suffering that they're going through.”
Unaisi Vuniwaqa has witnessed terrible suffering. As the Assistant Secretary-General for Safety and Security, she has worked as a UN peacekeeper in some of the world’s most dangerous places.
What does it take to stay calm in the crossfire? Peacekeepers have one of the toughest roles in the United Nations. Serving in brutal conflicts, such as that in South Sudan, can mean drawing on all their reserves of courage and ingenuity. In this episode, Unaisi Vuniwaqa reflects on what it takes to keep a cool head while in mortal danger and on maintaining the safety of UN staff and peacekeepers around the world.
Photo: ©UN Photo/Evan Schneider
It is a sad reality that in situations where armed conflict breaks out, it is the most vulnerable members of societies – namely children, who are most affected by the consequences of war. During armed conflict, children may be forced to flee their homes, some torn from their families and exposed to exploitation and abuse along the way. They may be recruited by armed forces. Especially for girls and women, the threat of gender-based violence soars. On the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression the United Nations affirms its commitment to protect the rights of children.
Peacekeeping has helped save lives and bring peace and stability to many countries over the decades. But UN peacekeeping cannot succeed on its own to end conflict and secure lasting political solutions. Partnerships are fundamental to bringing tangible improvements in the lives of ordinary people. The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers (29 May) offers a chance to pay tribute to uniformed and civilian personnel. On this day, we also honour the nearly 4,200 peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948, including 135 last year.
On the divided island of Cyprus, Hande and Flora may not have met if it wasn't for a weaving project facilitated by the UN mission in Cyprus, which brought together the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. Here’s the story of how they went from strangers to friends. UN Peacekeeping has been working towards a political settlement in Cyprus since 1964. UNFICYP continues to supervise ceasefire lines, to maintain a buffer zone, to undertake humanitarian activities and to support the good offices mission of the Secretary-General.
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.