• English

UNHCR calls for ban on forced returns of asylum seekers to eastern DR Congo

Elizabeth Tan, UNHCR’s Director of International Protection, said on Friday at the regular Geneva press briefing that the agency is concerned about a rise in attacks on civilians, including those living in sites for displaced people.

One of the worst examples came in February this year at the Plaine Savo camp in Ituri Province. A non-State armed group killed at least 62 people and injured more than 40 others. Since then, attacks have resulted in more than 1,000 deaths of people sheltering in displacement sites or attempting to return to their homes.

50,000 rights violations

So far this year, UNHCR has recorded more than 50,000 violations against the rights of the civilian population in DRC, including refugees and internally displaced people.

UNHCR says that States have a legal and moral responsibility to allow those fleeing ongoing conflict to seek safety, be accorded asylum, if appropriate, and not to forcibly return refugees.

March of M23 militants

Escalating armed conflict is further exacerbating the situation. Since 20 October, 188,000 people have been newly displaced by fighting between the M23 rebel group and the Congolese Army.

An estimated 5.6 million Congolese were internally displaced before this escalation in violence. Another million have found refuge in 22 countries in Africa.

The vast majority of those who have had to flee, 4.9 million, were internally displaced by conflict across North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri while nearly 700,000 have been displaced due to extreme weather.

With less than six weeks to go before the end of 2022, UNHCR has received just 43 per cent of the funds it needs to help those most in need in DRC.

UN chief welcomes renewal of Black Sea Grain Initiative

More than 11.1 million tonnes of essential foodstuffs have been shipped as part of the agreement involving Türkiye, Ukraine, Russia and the United Nations, since it was signed on 22 July.

Tweet URL

‘Deeply moved’

Speaking from Cairo, where Mr. Guterres was en route from the G20 summit in Bali to the COP 27 climate conference in Sharm el Sheikh, he said in a video tweet that he was “deeply moved” and grateful that an agreement had been reached in Istanbul.

The UN chief also expressed his deep commitment to remove the “remaining obstacles to the unimpeded exports of Russian food and fertilizers”, as these remain “essential” to avoid a food crisis next year.

‘Discreet diplomacy’

He also praised the role of Türkiye and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, noting that Istanbul has become an “essential centre for discreet diplomacy to solve dramatic problems”.

He expressed deep gratitude to the Turks for their generosity and “very effective commitment”.

In a separate statement, Mr. Guterres insisted that the United Nations remained “fully committed” to supporting the initiative’s Joint Coordination Centre which oversees ship movements to and from Ukraine, “so that this vital supply line continues to function smoothly”.

Essential tool against hunger

He said both agreements signed three months ago “are essential to bring down the prices of food and fertilizer and avoid a global food crisis.      

“The Black Sea Grain Initiative continues to demonstrate the importance of discreet diplomacy in the context of finding multilateral solutions.”

Yuri is a farm worker in Baranove, Odeska oblast. Since the beginning of the war in February, the entire agriculture sector in Ukraine has suffered from limited options to export produce.
© OCHA/Matteo Minasi

Yuri is a farm worker in Baranove, Odeska oblast. Since the beginning of the war in February, the entire agriculture sector in Ukraine has suffered from limited options to export produce.

Multilateralism in action

In a series of tweets, the President of the UN General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, commended all parties to the agreements on grain and fertilizer, and expressed his gratitude to the Secretary-General for his leadership and “unrelenting commitment” to restoring the world’s food supply.

He said the initiative was “a strong example of crisis management in action, and shows “what is possible when diplomacy, dialogue and multilateralism are prioritised.”

He added that it would help ease the suffering of millions impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

UN trade and development chief, Rebeca Grynspan, who was one of the chief negotiators who brokered the Secretary-General’s grain initiative, tweeted that it was “good news for global food security and for the developing world.”

She added that “solving the fertilizer crunch must come next”.

 

Secretary-General @antonioguterres expresses the UN’s full commitment to support the smooth implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement in Istanbul by the Joint Coordination Centre. https://t.co/KP3eC3alPo

‘Credibility and relevance’ of UN on the line over Security Council reform, warns Assembly President

That’s according to the President of the General Assembly Csaba Kőrösi, who told a plenary meeting on Thursday on expanding the Security Council and making it more equitable, that “interlocking crises” this year, chiefly Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, had exposed the Council’s inability to “fully carry out its mandate.”

Tweet URL

Veto power

The veto power held by permanent members, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, means that any resolution can be blocked if just one of them decides to use the veto. Ten other countries sit on Council, and are elected to serve two-year terms, on a regional rotating basis.

The Council operates on the basis of one member one vote, and in deciding on “procedural matters”, nine members need to vote in favour for a decision to be adopted. On all other matters an affirmative vote of nine members “including the concurring votes of the permanent members” is necessary.

For a rundown of the Security Council’s powers and ability to stop a war, see our explainer here, published in April.

Growing call for change

“Growing numbers are now demanding its reform”, said Mr. Kőrösi.

“During High-Level Week, one-third of world leaders underscored the urgent need to reform the Council – more than double the number in 2021. They are looking to the General Assembly to lead on change.

We should admit that this is about the credibility and the relevance of the United Nations.”

He told ambassadors that the Assembly needed to decide to go either go through the motions, or “swing into action”.

You simply must answer this call. The General Assembly is, quite literally, the only UN body with a mandate to seek a solution to the question of Security Council reform. I count on you, the Member States, to drive the transformation now urgently needed.”

Security Council renews the sanctions regime on Somalia.
UN Photo/Mark Garten

Security Council renews the sanctions regime on Somalia.

Collective step

The Assembly President called for the 193-member body – the most representative in the entire UN system – to take a “collective step”, and support the on-going intergovernmental negotiation process launched 13 years ago, to finally deliver meaningful reform.

The objective is to find solutions. In a transparent manner. Along a well-designed process”, he told the meeting, saying that he and the co-chairs would provide all support necessary, “in an impartial, objective and open-minded manner.”

Quoting the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who described perseverance as a sign of willpower, he said, “let us persevere.”

Let’s break free of entrenched positions. Let’s go beyond the calculations of distrust and rivalry. Let’s focus on the common good.”

This year, we approach #SecurityCouncil reform at a time when the world is facing a set of interlocking crises that have placed the entire multilateral system under pressure.

We should admit that this is about the credibility & the relevance of the UN.

https://t.co/QSk29rLeya https://t.co/WyNtAU1OFn

Ukraine war: Risks of spillover ‘remain all too real’, Security Council hears 

Russian missiles and drones have rained down on several cities, including the capital, Kyiv, she reported, destroying or damaging homes and severely disrupting critical services. 

Tweet URL

“I must say it again: attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited under international humanitarian law,” she stressed. 

‘No end in sight’ 

Meanwhile, military dynamics on the ground continue to evolve.  

Ms. DiCarlo recalled that over the past week, the southern port city of Kherson returned to Ukrainian Government control following the withdrawal of Russian troops. Heavy battles also continue in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. 

“Indeed, there is no end in sight to the war.  As long as it continues, the risks of potentially catastrophic spillover remain all too real,” she said. 

“Yesterday’s incident in Poland near the Ukrainian border was a frightening reminder of the absolute need to prevent any further escalation.” 

UN expresses condolences  

Two people were killed on Tuesday when a missile struck a grain silo in the tiny Polish village of Przewodow. 

The country’s President, Andrzej Duda, said the explosion was most likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile, according to international media reports. 

Ms. DiCarlo joined UN Secretary-General António Guterres in extending condolences to the families of the victims. 

The political affairs chief feared the recent barrages in Ukraine will only add to the horrific toll the war has already exacted. 

More than 16,630 civilian casualties have been recorded in the nine months of fighting, with 6,557 deaths, according to the UN human rights office, OHCHR.

Winter support 

The ongoing bombardment has already damaged roughly 40 per cent of the country’s power-generation capacity.  Kyiv has been hardest hit, she said, as most parts of the city are now without electricity for 12 hours a day. 

“As the Ukrainian Government focuses on repairing damaged infrastructure, the United Nations has made it a priority to ensure that the most vulnerable receive winter supplies and services,” she told ambassadors.  

So far, more than 185,000 people have been provided with essential basic winter supplies.  

Humanitarian partners are also setting up “heating points” near frontlines, and more than 500 generators are being distributed to hospitals, clinics and other priority institutions. 

Constraints to aid delivery 

Although humanitarian access has resumed in Kherson and other areas now back under Ukrainian Government control, it is still extremely difficult to reach people in areas of the east and south held by the Russian military and across the front line.  

“Mine contamination – particularly in areas close to the front or where control has recently shifted – are putting more lives at risk, impeding the movement of civilians and hampering humanitarian efforts,” said Ms. DiCarlo. 

She reminded the parties of their obligation to facilitate humanitarian access, in line with international law. 

Ms. DiCarlo also provided the Council with an update on human rights and other concerns.

Highlighting the situation of children, she said more than 400 boys and girls have been killed in the war, and many more have been injured, lost their relatives, or been forced to flee their homes.  

Nearly 300 are considered missing, according to Ukrainian Government sources. 

“There are also disturbing reports of forced transfers of children, including of some under institutionalized care, to Russian-occupied territory or to the Russian Federation,” she further stated. 

“OHCHR has documented several individual cases, including of unaccompanied children, that appear to amount to deportations to the Russian Federation – in violation of international humanitarian law.” 

‘Blame Russia for everything’ 

 Addressing the incident in Poland, Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya told the chamber that Ukraine had initially blamed his country for the missile strike. 

 “I cannot fail to mention that Ukrainian air defence systems have long had a bad reputation,” he said, referring to the downing of a Russian civilian plane over the Black Sea in October 2001, and the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 some 13 years later.  

 “And over the past few months, we regularly see footage about the consequence of Ukrainian air defence missiles falling on residential homes which were used to conceal these systems,” he added. 

Mr. Nebenzya said Russia long ago stopped being surprised by attempts to blame the country for everything.  

  “And so today, in spite of clear evidence of Ukrainian-Polish provocation, many representatives of Western countries have stated to the effect that even if the missiles were launched by Ukraine, it’s still Russia who’s to blame for destroying critical infrastructure.” 

Ukraine supports investigation  

Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya reported that 10 million people have been affected by emergency blackouts following Russian missile attacks on energy facilities and other civilian infrastructure in at least 11 regions across his country. 

Turning to Tuesday’s “tragic incident”, he expressed his country’s solidarity with Poland. 

Mr. Kyslytsya said Ukraine supports a full and transparent investigation to establish the facts and stands ready to cooperate with Poland in this regard. 

 “At the same time, it is clear that the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, with regular missile terror as one of its core elements, remains the only root cause of violence and human suffering in Ukraine and beyond,” he told the Council.  

“As soon as Russia is unable to continue its war, security in the region will immediately be restored.” 

 

 

There is only one way to stop the death, destruction and division in #Ukraine: the war must end. And it must end in line with international law and the @UN Charter. My remarks to the Security Council today: https://t.co/9D41MPIF46 https://t.co/51hb6VjcK6

Sudan: Human rights must ‘be at the core’ of democratic transition, urges Türk   

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk told journalists at a press conference in Khartoum that the military takeover of October 2021, which put an end to civilian power-sharing following the ouster of former dictator Omar Al-Bashir, had left Sudan “at a decisive fork in the road”.  

“As political negotiations continue towards a framework for a new transition, I urge all those involved to set aside entrenched positions, power games, and their personal interests, and to focus on the common interests of the Sudanese people”, he said. 

Tweet URL

Advocating for “bold steps towards consensus” and using human rights protections as “the driving force”, the senior UN Official spelled out: “The future of the country depends on it”. 

Much at stake 

In outlining what’s at stake, he said that half the population only earns only about $2 a day; electricity costs have soared 25-fold in the past year; the prices of bread and fuel have doubled; and the economy is in freefall, “with serious consequences for the most vulnerable”

Moreover, there has been an escalation in armed attacks in Darfur, Blue Nile, Kordofan and other parts of the country as historical grievances such as over land, water and other resources, continue to drive inter-ethnic clashes.  

And Sudan is likely to be heavily affected by climate change, threatening to inflame tensions over land and resources. 

Turning to the “desperate humanitarian situation”, Mr. Turk said that a “staggering” one-third of the population needs assistance; 3.7 million people are displaced, more than 211,000 since early this year; and seven million children are out of school. 

Meanwhile, he continued, young people are protesting, demanding that authority be handed over to civilians.   

“There is a hunger…and a need for good governance and a new social contract between State institutions and the population, grounded in human rights,” said the rights chief.  

Solutions within reach 

 While acknowledging that “the situation is grim”, he flagged that “the tools to chisel away” and overcome some challenges, are within reach.   

The High Commissioner advocated for the urgent implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement to restore civilian authority, as “a step” towards peace and a National Plan for the Protection of Civilians to provide security throughout the most volatile parts of the country.  

He also drew attention to traditional practices, local dispute-resolution mechanisms and peace initiatives, upholding that the “energetic, vibrant” Sudanese have a vision to build, for the benefit of the whole country. 

Noting that the median age of the population is just 18.9 years, Mr. Turk attested to their potential, saying the young generation “live and breathe human rights”.  

An aerial view of a UNICEF-supported water facility in Gorora village, Red Sea state, Sudan..
© UNICEF/Ahmed Ammar

An aerial view of a UNICEF-supported water facility in Gorora village, Red Sea state, Sudan..

 

Lapse of trust  

Following decades of repression, and a few tumultuous years, building trust between the authorities and people is a huge challenge.  

State institutions need to be representative of, accessible by and work for the people, including women and the most vulnerable.   

During his visit, the human right chief met with high-level officials, acting ministers of foreign affairs, justice, and the interior; and civil society representatives and human rights victims – whose “tireless work across a variety of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights issues was palpable”.   

Right to assemble 

He noted that OHCHR has documented the excessive use of force against protesters in Khartoum, including the use of live ammunition, pointing out that since the military takeover “at least 119 people have been killed and more than 8,050 sustained injuries – many life-changing”. 

He called on the relevant authorities to instruct security forces to respond to demonstrations in line with human rights laws and standards.  

“People have the right to peaceful assembly, and the State has an obligation to ensure this right can be exercised without fear of being shot at”, he said.   

Also deeply worrying are reports of sexual and gender-based violence against women, girls, men and boys, continuing with impunity and serious human rights violations in the Darfur region among civilians and internally displaced.   

And deadly incidents in the Blue Nile and Kordofan States have resulted in hundreds of killings.  

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk with members of civil society in Khartoum during his recent official visit to Sudan.
Volker Türk

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk with members of civil society in Khartoum during his recent official visit to Sudan.

Thread of justice 

A key thread during the High Commissioner’s visit was the need for accountability.   

Victims must be acknowledged, and survivors properly recognized, honoured, and compensated while perpetrators be brought to justice.  

Impunity breeds further violence. It must be addressed head on”, he underscored.  

Delicate transition   

Mr. Türk called on all sides to go the extra mile towards restoring civilian rule and ending “the uncertainty that has left much of the population in peril”.   

Along with international support, he assured that OHCHR will work to strengthen the State’s capacity, including the promotion and protection of human rights.   

The High Commissioner concluded by saying that “unity, combined strength and great potential” were his “deepest hopes for the next phase of Sudan’s transition”.  

 

UN Human Rights Chief @volker_turk travelled to El Fasher, northern Darfur, where he met representatives of internally displaced people and other civil society organisations. https://t.co/PUnI9TO0TY

Ukrainian and Russian POWs tortured and ill-treated: OHCHR

Matilda Bogner, Head of the UN’s human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine, said that, over the past few months, her team had interviewed 159 prisoners of war – or POWs – both men and women, held by Russia, and 175 male prisoners of war held by Ukraine. 

Tweet URL

Ukraine gave the mission access to Russian POWs where they were being held. Russia did not, so interviews were conducted with Ukrainian POWs when they were released. 

Beatings, dog attacks 

Ukrainian POWs have said that they were frequently subjected to prolonged beatings, threats, electric shocks and dog attacks. Nine people are said to have died during such attacks in April this year.  

Women POWs told interviewers that they were not subjected to physical violence but described being psychologically tormented by the screams of male POWs being tortured in nearby cells. Both men and women prisoners reported being subjected to various forms of sexual violence. 

The vast majority of Ukrainian prisoners who were interviewed said that during their internment they were tortured and ill-treated. 

Intimidation, humiliation 

They said their treatment was not only used to coerce them to give military information or statements about alleged crimes but to intimidate and humiliate them on a daily basis. 

POWs described being beaten, including with batons and wooden hammers, being kicked, and given electric shocks with tasers and a military phone known as TAPik. 

Summary executions 

Russian POWs, held by Ukraine, told interviewers of summary executions and several cases of torture and ill-treatment, mostly when they were captured, first interrogated, or moved to transit camps and places of internment. In some cases, they said they were punched and kicked in the face and body after surrendering and when they were interrogated. 

In several cases, Russian POWs said they were stabbed or given electric shocks with the ‘TAPik’ phone by Ukrainian law enforcement officers or military personnel guarding them. 

Accountability key 

Ms Bogner said that states must treat all prisoners of war humanely at all times, from the moment they are captured until their release and repatriation, and that the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment is absolute, even in times of armed conflict.  

She also said that accountability is key to deterring and preventing further violations, adding that the parties to the conflict have clear legal obligations to investigate and prosecute all allegations of violations of international humanitarian law in relation to the treatment of prisoners of war within their control.  

 

🇺🇦#Ukraine/🇷🇺#Russia: All prisoners of war must be treated humanely at all times – from capture until release & repatriation. We call for an end to torture & ill-treatment, full access to prisoners of wars & accountability. https://t.co/HO6VltRiSM https://t.co/6AAGbqaFXU

Libya: Some leaders ‘actively hindering progress towards elections’, Security Council hears

UN Special Representative Abdoulaye Bathily briefed ambassadors on the ongoing impasse and other obstacles to the vote, which was postponed last December. 

Libya has been divided between two rival administrations in the aftermath of the overthrow and killing of former President, Muammar Gaddafi, over a decade ago. 

Mr. Bathily last addressed the Council in October, shortly after arriving in the North African country to head the UN Mission there, UNSMIL.   

Dialogue towards elections 

He has been holding talks with key leaders, reminding them of their moral and political responsibility to work to bring the nation back to peace and stability. 

“In the next weeks and months, UNSMIL will endeavour to facilitate a conversation between the key institutional players in Libya as a step towards overcoming their differences and moving forward towards the organisation of free and fair elections,” said the envoy. 

Engagement with relevant segments of the general population also will be stepped up as they will be paramount to exiting the crisis. 

“The accompanying support, and pressure, from this Council in particular, and the international community at large, speaking with a united voice, under the coordination of the United Nations, is likely to reap positive results,” he added. 

Blocking progress 

Mr. Bathily has been holding consultations with stakeholders from all regions across the oil-rich nation, to encourage dialogue.   

“The popular aspiration for peace, stability and legitimate institutions is clear from my interaction with Libyans. However, there is an increasing recognition that some institutional players are actively hindering progress towards elections,” he said. 

“The genuine political will of these actors needs to be tested against reality,” he added, noting that nearly a year has passed since the polls were postponed.   

December also marks seven years since the signing of the Libyan Political Agreement, a UN-brokered deal on forming a unity government. 

Risk of further turmoil 

Mr. Bathily warned against prolonging the interim period as Libya could become even more vulnerable to political, economic and security instability, as well as risk of partition. 

“We must therefore join hands in encouraging Libyan leaders to work with resolve towards the holding of elections as soon as possible,” he said.  

“I urge this Council to send an unequivocal message to obstructionists that their actions will not remain without consequences.” 

Improve women’s rights 

Libyan women also remain concerned about their ability to actively engage in the long-awaited elections, both as voters and candidates, the UN envoy reported. 

In the face of rising online violence against women, UNSMIL is supporting women’s groups which are leading a unified campaign to counter attacks.  

“I call for continued and consistent efforts to improve women’s rights and to incorporate such measures in the laws of the land. I am glad to note the active and positive participation of women and young people in my interactions with Libyans at the grassroots levels,” he said. 

Ceasefire still holding 

Meanwhile, a ceasefire is still holding, despite continued escalatory rhetoric and the build-up of forces on both sides.   

However, little progress has been made in implementing a plan on the withdrawal of mercenaries, foreign fighters, and foreign forces from the country. 

Turning to economic developments, Mr. Bathily spoke of how lack of accountability, transparency, and equity in the allocation of resources remains a key cause of tensions. 

He welcomed the Council’s emphasis on the importance of creating a Libyan-led mechanism to ensure oil and gas revenues are managed in a transparent and equitable manner, and with effective oversight, as outlined in a recent resolution. 

General Assembly adopts resolution on Russian reparations for Ukraine

Nearly 50 nations co-sponsored the resolution on establishing an international mechanism for compensation for damage, loss and injury, as well as a register to document evidence and claims. 

The General Assembly is the UN’s most representative body, comprising all 193 Member States. 

Ninety-four countries voted in favour of the resolution, and 14 against, while 73 abstained. 

The vote took place in the morning, and countries returned in the afternoon to explain their decisions. 

Ukraine: Hold Russia accountable 

In presenting the resolution, Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya used the biblical adage that “there is nothing new under the sun” as a motif throughout his remarks. 

He insisted that Russia must be held accountable for its violations of international law. 

“Seventy-seven years ago, the Soviet Union demanded and received reparations, calling it a moral right of a country that has suffered war and occupation,” he said.  

“Today, Russia, who claims to be the successor of the 20th century’s tyranny, is doing everything it can to avoid paying the price for its own war and occupation, trying to escape accountability for the crimes it is committing.” 

Carnage and compensation 

Mr. Kyslytsya pointed out that Russia also supported the creation of the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC), established in 1991 following Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait. 

The Commission completed its mandate in February, he reported, having paid out over $52 billion in reparations to victims.

The Ambassador outlined the impact of the Russian war on his country, including bombings targeting residential buildings and infrastructure, the demolition of nearly half of the power grid and utilities, massive displacement, and atrocities such as murder, rape, torture and forced deportations.

“This proposal is not about Russia alone. It will work for the benefit of all those who are being threatened now or might be threatened later by use of force,” he said.

Russia criticizes draft 

Speaking before the vote, Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya characterized the draft resolution as “a classic example” of a narrow group of States acting not on the basis of international law, but rather trying to consecrate something that is illegal.

He said countries backing the resolution were attempting to position the General Assembly as a judicial body, which it is not.

“These countries boast about how committed they are to the rule of law, but at the same time, they are flouting its very semblance,” he added, speaking in Russian.

No role for the UN 

Mr. Nebenzya said the proposed reparations mechanism will be created by a group of countries that will decide how it functions.

“The UN will play no role in this process because the proposed mechanism is suggested to be created outside of the UN, and no one has any plans to account to the General Assembly for its activity,” he continued.

Furthermore, he had “no doubt” that the funding will come from frozen Russian assets, which total billions.

Western countries have long wanted to unfreeze these assets, he said, not to return them to their owner, or to spend them on helping Ukraine, “but rather so as to fund their own constantly growing weapons supplies to Kyiv, and covering the debts for the weapons already supplied.” 

About the emergency special session 

The General Assembly emergency special session began on 28 February, or just days after the start of the war in Ukraine. 

This marks only the 11th time such a meeting has been held since 1950, in line with a resolution widely known as ‘Uniting for Peace’.  

Resolution 377A(V) gives the General Assembly power to take up matters of international peace and security when the Security Council is unable to act due to unanimity among its five permanent members – China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia – who have the power of veto. 

The current special session was convened after the Council voted in favour of the General Assembly meeting following Russia’s veto of a resolution that would have deplored the assault on Ukraine.  

UNPOL ready to tackle global peace, security and development challenges 

He outlined some of the greatest challenges to global peace, security and development, which include expanding conflicts in high population areas, expansion of transnational organized crime and violent extremism. 

The UN Peacekeeping chief also highlighted growing climate and cyber insecurity risks and greater demand for comprehensive national capacity-building and police reform, saying there was an increasing need for “unique and specific policing responses”.  

Tweet URL

“We must therefore work collectively to ensure the United Nations Police (UNPOL) are properly prepared, equipped and resourced to address them”, he underscored. 

Key priorities 

Mr. Lacroix outlined a strategic direction for UN policing in serving and protecting people where ‘blue helmets’ are stationed, beginning with Action for Peacekeeping, particularly in the areas prioritized within what the UN has designated as A4P+.  

This includes coherent political strategies that deploy varied resources and leverage support to influence the political direction towards stability and good governance in country’s with peacekeeping missions.  

Strengthening these synergies lies at the heart of the second priority, which is greater strategic and operational integration across missions.  

The third priority, focuses on capabilities and mindsets, aligning pre-deployment training with the mandated tasks of each Formed Police Unit within missions. 

Fourth, is to ensure the highest levels of accountability for peacekeepers, which will improve safety and security. 

UNPOL would continue to underline “zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse through enhanced pre-deployment and in-mission training” as a fifth priority, Mr. Lacroix said.  

Turning to strategic communications, the sixth priority, he said UN Police is working to amplify it presence, including through new engagement on large social media platforms such as LinkedIn, as well as community-oriented policing and awareness-raising activities.  

And finally, in line with the seventh A4P+ priority, UNPOL will continue to improve cooperation with host countries during transitions.

Women and peace 

Meanwhile, the Women, Peace and Security agenda is infused in all aspects of A4P+ and “remains the foundation for improving our overall effectiveness”, he assured the Council.  

Gender-responsive policing efforts ensure that the security needs of women, men, girls and boys are considered, including through a robust network of gender advisers and police gender focal points, the peacekeeping chief said.  

He noted that UNPOL has already achieved its gender parity targets for 2025, and that women now head five of nine police components in UN peacekeeping operations.

Following an attack in the Bandiagara region of Mali, United Nations Police (UNPOL) are patrolling the area by foot and in vehicles.
UN Photo/Gema Cortes

Following an attack in the Bandiagara region of Mali, United Nations Police (UNPOL) are patrolling the area by foot and in vehicles.

Instrument for peace 

Describing A4P+ as the UN’s vehicle to strengthen peacekeeping, Mr. Lacroix said that through it, “we are better placed to address today’s challenges to peace and security and, ultimately, to improve the lives of the people we serve’. 

In closing he expressed gratitude to the Council for its ongoing support, including its contributions of highly qualified police personnel to serve for peace with the United Nations. 

 

    As #UNPoliceWeek opens, I want to thank all @UNPOL officers who are #ServingForPeace in our @UNPeacekeeping missions. From strengthening the rule of law to training security institutions, they provide host states with the means to better protect their communities. #A4P https://t.co/yagVf7pkW5

    UNPOL facts 

    • From it first deployment in 1960, to its current presence in DR Congo, tens of thousands of police officers from over 130 countries have worked to protect populations, strengthen the rule of law, and build the foundations for effective and accountable policing that serve host-State populations. 

    • With a current authorized strength of 10,000 serving on the frontlines in 16 UN peace operations globally, they occupy a unique role among the world’s police forces. 

    • By helping host-States maintain law and order, protect civilians, and engage with local populations through community-oriented policing, UN Police have helped pave the way for some of the largest UN peacekeeping missions through the decades, including in Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, Liberia, and Timor-Leste. 

    South Sudan 

    Via videolink, Christine Fossen, Police Commissioner for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) assured that the protection of civilians remains “at the heart of what we do” and mutually reinforces its mandate to support to the implementation of the peace agreement, build capacity with the local police, and create conditions conducive to deliver humanitarian assistance. 

    “UNMISS has largely transitioned from a Mission anchored in static protection to one that is focused on mobility and meeting protection needs where they are greatest”, she said, adding that it is working toward political engagement to, among other things, help secure free and fair elections in December 2024. 

    Moreover, UNPOL is doubling down on its protection efforts, including through participating in “whole-of-Mission efforts” through dialogue, engagement and support for political solutions to end conflicts.  

      DR Congo 

      Mody Berethe, Police Commissioner of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), asserted that UNPOL is contributing to peacekeeping mandates, including through training, managing human resources, and building investigation-related capacity. 

      The Commissioner also spoke of the benefits of capacity building to counter impunity, especially organized crime, and she said specialized police teams have garnered much community-level trust. 

      Secretary-General upholds the importance of a single global economy

      Mr. Guterres was speaking to journalists a day after addressing regional leaders attending the 12th Summit between the UN and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

      Avoid at all costs

      “As I told yesterday’s summit meeting, we must avoid at all costs the division of the global economy into two parts, led by the two biggest economiesthe United States and China,” he said.

      Tweet URL

      “Such a rift, with two different sets of rules, two dominant currencies, two internets, and two conflicting strategies on artificial intelligence, would undermine the world’s capacity to respond to the dramatic challenges we face.”

      He said ASEAN countries are well placed to bridge this divide, stressing that “we must have one global economy and global market with access for all.”

      ‘Unending nightmare’ in Myanmar

      The UN chief also reported on some of the issues discussed at the summit, including the situation in Myanmar which he described as “an unending nightmare for the people of that country, and a threat to peace and security across the region.”

      Myanmar’s military seized power in February 2021 and since then, the country has been in the grip of a political, human rights and humanitarian crisis.

      Mr. Guterres said ASEAN has taken a principled approach to the issue through its Five-Point Consensus.

      Unified strategy needed

      The plan was adopted in April 2021 and calls for an immediate cessation of violence, constructive dialogue among the parties, appointment of a Special Envoy, provision of humanitarian assistance, and a visit to the country by the Special Envoy.

      “I urge all countries, including ASEAN members, to seek a unified strategy towards Myanmar, centred on the needs and aspirations of the country’s people,” he said.

      Solutions for turbulent times

      The war in Ukraine, the global energy and food crisis, and the climate emergency were also on the agenda at the day-long summit.

      “In these turbulent times, regional organizations including ASEAN are essential to building global solutions,” Mr. Guterres told reporters.

      The Secretary-General travelled to Cambodia from Egypt, where the COP27 UN climate change conference is underway. 

      Climate Solidarity Pact

      Mr. Guterres is calling for a Climate Solidarity Pact for developed and emerging economies to combine resources and capacities to defeat climate change.

      He is also pushing for leaders to reach agreement on a financial mechanism to support countries that suffer loss and damage from climate-related disasters.

      The UN chief will next travel to Bali, Indonesia, for the G20 summit of the world’s major economies, which begins on Tuesday.

      Stimulus package proposal

      “My priority in Bali will be to speak up for countries in the Global South that have been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency, and now face crises in food, energy and finance – exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and crushing debt,” he said.  

      Mr. Guterres wants G20 leaders to adopt a stimulus package to provide developing countries with much-needed investments and liquidity.

      The UN is also working to alleviate the global food crisis by extending a landmark initiative to get Ukrainian grain back on markets, and by removing obstacles to the Russian food and fertilizers exports.

      Responding to questions

      The Secretary-General was asked his view of human rights in the ASEAN region, and in host country Cambodia.

      Although the situation is different from country to country, he stressed that human rights should be fully respected.

      “Indeed, my appeal, and namely my appeal in a country like Cambodia is for the public space to be open and for human rights defenders and climate activists to be protected, and for the cooperation with civil society to be extended,” he said.

      The Secretary-General also expressed concern for Myanmar, saying systematic violations of human rights there are “absolutely unacceptable” and causing immense suffering for the population.

      Hopes for Indonesian presidency

      Asked about UN and ASEAN cooperation to resolve the Myanmar crisis, he said it was important that the Five-Point Consensus moves forward.

      Indonesia will chair ASEAN next year, and Mr. Guterres expressed hope that its presidency will see the development of initiatives towards this objective.

      “We need to go back to a democracy, to a transition to democracy. We need to release political prisoners. We need to establish an inclusive process, and I’m confident that the Indonesian presidency will be working hard in the next year in that respect.” 

      Peace in Ukraine

      Mr. Guterres also underlined the UN’s clear position on Ukraine, again responding to a journalist’s question.

      The Russian invasion was a violation of the UN Charter, he said, and a violation of the country’s territorial integrity.

      At the same time, he stressed that it is very important to create the conditions for progressively re-establishing dialogue that will lead to a future where peace will prevail, adding “not any kind of peace –  peace based on the values of the UN Charter, and peace based on international law”.

      At ASEAN, I condemned appalling human rights situation in Myanmar & repeated call on country’s authorities to release all political prisoners & launch inclusive process to return to democratic transition.

      I also urged countries to develop regional framework to protect refugees.

      Get help now

      Send a message with a description of your problem and possible ways of assistance and we will contact you as soon as we consider your problem.

        [recaptcha class:captcha]