Peace and Security

A man at a microphone with a name plate that reads “Special Adviser UNITAD”

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. 

A group of 5 men examine and photograph missiles on the ground

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.

woman walking up stairs in damaged building

As governments, humanitarian actors, and peacebuilders meet at the UN to discuss the women, peace and security agenda, watch this space for news, updates and voices of women peacebuilders.

woman working on an artwork

War, violent conflict, terrorism and violent extremism have different and devastating consequences for women and girls. In the face of these, women all over the world lead movements to prevent conflict, restore peace and rebuild communities. The women, peace and security agenda was formally established in 2000 by a unanimous Security Council decision. This year’s Security Council’s annual open debate on women, peace and security will focus on investing in the contribution of local women to peacekeeping, peacebuilding and transitional settings during and following UN peace operations.

Two smiling children walk in the desert carrying UNICEF backpacks

A child’s right to education cannot be safeguarded in conflict zones without education itself being protected. Education can be a lifesaver. Out of school, children are easy targets of abuse, exploitation and recruitment by armed forces and groups. In 2020, there was an increase of 17 per cent on attacks on schools compared to 2019. The International Day to Protect Education from Attack (9 September) brings attention to the importance of safeguarding schools as places of protection and safety for students and educators and the need to keep education at the top of the public agenda.

The back of a girl’s head with braids

More than 14,000 displaced people live in camps in Bambari, most of them women and girls – besides barriers to health care and food, UNFPA documents sexual violence used as a weapon of war.

A group of joyful youth come together playfully holding signs that read peace.

Engaging young people in peace efforts provides an opportunity to constructively influence areas that directly impact their lives. This year’s International Day of UN Peacekeepers (29 May): “The road to a lasting peace: Leveraging the power of youth for peace and security,” recognizes the significant role of youth in shaping and sustaining peace efforts. Today, tens of thousands of young peacekeepers (between the ages of 18 and 29 years) are deployed around the world and play a major role in helping the missions including in the protection of civilians. #YouthPeaceSecurity #Youth4Peace

destruction in Gaza

An estimated 160,000 people in Gaza now face going hungry as the escalation of violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and across the border into Israel, continues into its second week, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.

In addition to seeing that they get enough to eat, another priority for the agency’s Country Director in Palestine, Samer AbdelJaber, is making sure that his aid team stays safe, as he explains to UN News’s Daniel Johnson.

Pramila Patten speaks at the podium surrounded by advocates.

“I returned from Bangladesh...and sent all of my dresses for dry cleaning. I have not worn these dresses again. I can't wear them. There's too much pain...because I came out and I was wet with all the women crying. I like to open the wardrobe and remind myself of the survivors at all times. They are my moral compass and I have to keep fighting for them. This is what keeps me going.”

In this episode of Awake at night, we meet Pramila Patten, the Secretary General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict whose work aims to end rape as a weapon of war, making it a crime that is both preventable and punishable. Pramila travels the world to meet survivors, carrying back the harrowing stories they entrust her to retell. She then advocates tirelessly on their behalf for accountability and justice.

"When you talk to Yazidi women, they tell you they want justice and reparations, in addition to support services [...] Whether it is Iraq [...] Nigeria [...] Somalia or Sudan, they tell you they want to have their day in court. And for me, that is very frustrating that so far, for example, where sexual violence is used as a tactic of terrorism, no single person belonging to Boko Haram or ISIS has been prosecuted for sexual violence. They are getting prosecuted under the counter terrorism legislation, but not for sexual violence. And that is a frustration."

A woman with eyes closed looks down and leans her head on her hands in prayer position.

In war-torn Yemen, women are often the first victims

portrait of a girl

Angam, 7, has six brothers and sisters. She stopped going to school, because her family cannot afford schoolbooks, bags and uniforms. This portrait series was photographed in south Yemen in late 2020 by photographer Giles Clarke. It is the result of years of work documenting Yemen and the lives of those affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis. It highlights the resilience, strength and hope of the Yemeni people. They fled violence in search of safety. They lost their homes, family members, friends, neighbours. They live in makeshift shelters, not knowing when they'll be able to return home.