Preventing Escalation in Burundi

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    Mr. Feltman opened the meeting noting serious implications for stability and ethnic harm in Burundi and perhaps regionally. This is based on the number of reported politically motivated killings and attacks increasing daily. There are nightly exchanges of gunshots and explosions and frequently discovered mutilated bodies. Two UN staff members have been killed in the last three weeks. The police have the right to use “all available means” to find illegally possessed arms. The president’s ultimatum has caused 280,000 displaced refugees across the Great Lakes region. To resolve this situation, Burundi needs to address the political deadlock. The Secretary-General will announce a special advisor who will focus on preventing Burundian violence. He calls on Burundian leaders to cease violence, hate-speech, and separating the East African community.

    Mr. al Hussein spoke next about the potential for serious regional repercussions. 240 people have been killed since protests began in April. The current crisis has already undone much of Burundi’s economic, political and social progress.

   Mr. Dieng pointed out that the language being used by the ruling party is similar to the Rwandan government’s prior to the notorious genocide. He requested a peacekeeping mission to protect civilians. “We will not be able to claim, if a full scale conflict erupts, that we didn’t know.”

   The Burundian Minister disputed these claims, saying that his country is calm besides certain spots within the capital. In two months, their commitment is to bring peace to the country and they have succeeded in 91% of the country. Burundi wishes to continue the “good neighborliness” between them and neighboring countries during this “time of turbulence”. The concerns about Burundi are founded and justified, but all must do their utmost to ensure the lasting peace in the area.

Meeting: Security Council, 7552nd Meeting

Time/Location: 15:00-16:30, Security Council Chamber

Speakers: Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman; Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for Human Rights; Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations; H.E. Ambassador Tete Antonio, African Union Permanent Representative to the United Nations; Mr. Adama Dieng, Special Advisor to UN on Genocide; Minister of External and Internal Relations of Burundi; Representative from Uganda

Written by: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Sustainable Support for Peace Building: the domestic and international aspects

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Today marked the annual session of the Peace Building Commission to discuss both the domestic and international elements of sustainable support in the peace building process. H.E. Mr. Patriota opened the dialogue by highlighting the weaknesses in current international aid, specifically the lack of political, technical, and financial assistance in helping these countries secure hard earned peace and stability.

Deputy Secretary General Mr. Eliasson focused heavily on the Commission’s need to sustain international attention beyond the immediate moment of acute crisis. While fighting may have stopped, the scars and public mistrust stemming from these conflicts often continue to be felt. To heal these scars, countries must restore and maintain public faith in the legitimacy of the state and trust in a peaceful road ahead. This requires that governments deliver public services, such as health care, education, and safe water, in a quick and equitable manner. But H.E Mr. Eliasson stressed that simple international aid rarely helps build this new social contract. Instead, it can weaken national ownership if not done in the right manner.

Mr. Eliasson highlighted three concrete areas of assistance for the international community to place high levels of importance on. First, support the development of the country’s own capacities and resources, primarily those that enable them to raise revenues. Second, fight the illicit flow of money, which resulted in losses totaling almost $1 trillion in developing countries last year. Finally, develop a predictable and more stable framework of support to facilitate peacebuilding in these at risk countries. H.E Mr. Ramos-Horta, former President of Timor-Leste, closed the meeting by commenting on his own experience in the successful peacebuilding process of Timor-Leste. Enabling the leaders of the region, both civilian and military, to engage in honest conversations that bridge the existing divide is essential to recovery. The international community must also help cultivate national ownership and national leadership, as foreign actors cannot stand in as the political leaders of an emerging country.

 

Meeting Title: Peacebuilding Commission annual session: Sustainable support for peacebuilding, the domestic and international aspects
Speakers: H.E. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Chair of the Peace Building Commission and Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations; Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General; H.E. José Ramos-Horta, United Nations’ Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peace-building Office in Guinea-Bissau former President of Timor Leste General;
Location: United Nations HQ, New York City
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Zachary Halliday
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

 

Starvation: Assad’s battering ram against the Syrians

“Kneel or Starve”

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The Danish Ambassador to the UN hosted a panel to reiterate Denmark’s determination to end starvation as a weapon of war in Syria.

Mr. Zakarya started with a personal account of the life in the besieged and chemically attacked city of Moadamiya. Victims of the regime’s “Kneel or Starve” strategy, the people of Moadamiya survived on a diet of sugar and rice before resorting to foraging edible plants. He added that the Assad regime actively blocked delivery of aid, and individuals who sought medical treatment are shot when returned to the city. Speaking of the disheartening story of a grocer’s daughter starved to death, he said that the strategy deprives Syrians not only of food, but also hope.

Mr. Sammond illustrated the severity of starvation in Syria by pointing to the fact that more Syrians died of starvation than that of illness and attack. Referring to Amnesty International’s report on the Yarmouk refugee camp, he pointed out that there is only half an hour of water supply per day. The lack of supplies is also illustrated by the fact that hospitals are lit by candles and even cigarette lighter, and caesarian sections are performed with little or no anesthetia.

Mr. Al-Dimashqy illustrated the shortage of food by stating that price of food increased by tenfold. Mr. Bitari provided a voice of Palestinians in Syria, and urged the international community to intervene the situation in Yarmouk camp.

Echoing the call for intervention, Dr. Ghadbian joined from the floor by stating that the problem with the starvation strategy is the lack of enforcement of Security Council Resolution 2139, which demanded parties to allow delivery of humanitarian assistance. Saudi Ambassador Al-Mouallimi passionately expressed his regret that some countries prevented the passing of a resolution for bringing those who caused this atrocity to justice.

 

Meeting Title: Panel discussion on “Life under siege: Starvation as a weapon of war”
Speakers: H.E. Ambassador Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations; Alexandra Hiniker, Pax Christi International (Moderator); Qusai Zakarya, Social Activist and Survivor of chemical attack in Moadamiya, Syria; Neil Sammonds, Researcher for Syria at Amnesty International; Ammar Al–Dimashqy, Social Activist in Besieged Areas; Nidal Bitari, Palestinian Lead for Human Rights in Syria; Dr. Najib Ghadbian, Special Representative to the United Nations of National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Force; H.E Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations.
Location: United Nations HQ, Economic and Social Council Chamber, New York
Date: 5 June 2014
Summary Written By WIT Representative: Harrison Chung

 

Continued Instability Leading up to Elections

The Ukrainian Crisis continues: Ukrainian women stand up for their right to participate

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The international community has watched as conflict has risen throughout Ukraine and Russia’s invasion of Crimea has lead to the displacement of over 10,000 people, mostly of the ethnic population, the Tatars. As the search to find effective resolutions continue the situation remains unstable and it is impossible to predict the outcome of this weekend’s Presidential election on Sunday the 25th of May.

Miss Natalia Karbowska from the Ukrainian Women’s Fund shared three key personal observations from her participation in Ukraine situation since November of 2013. The first was the power of civil society, as millions of people gathered at Maidan Nezalezhnosti throughout December, January and February. This active civil society protests for changing policies, rule of law that respects diversity and improving the life of Ukrainians. Secondly, women that were expected to hold stereotypical roles instead participated in protests in Kiev, and hundreds of women that were doctors, lawyers and other professional became the protectors of their communities from government sponsored rebels. Thirdly, the division across Ukraine has been historically significant and yet in the past 22 years since its democratisation none of the Ukrainian presidents have enforced a cohesive initiative to unite the Ukrainian people and bridge the cultural gap.

Professor Grigore Pop-Eleches from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University presented data on the separatist movement throughout Ukraine. Across political, economic and ethnic perceptions the country is clearly divided geographically between the West and the East, particularly the Southeastern region. This significant divide creates a nervous and unstable civil society, which is a risky and unpredictable environment for the upcoming Presidential elections. Alongside the rift within Ukraine geographically there is also a detachment between the civil society and politicians particularly towards women who are often excluded from political proceedings.

Meeting Title: Invest in Women for Peace: Conflict Prevention and Women’s Participation in Ukraine
Speakers: H.E. Ambassador of Liechtenstein Christian Wenaweser, Grigore Pop-Eleches from Princeton University and Natalia Karbowska from Ukrainians Women’s Fund
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 21 May 2014
Written by WIT representatives: Sophia Griffiths-Mark, Modou Cham and Rachel Lauren

Barrel Bombs: Syria’s Indiscriminate Killers

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The Syrian government is bombing its citizens using barrel bombs; weapons filled with violent explosives and shrapnel. Most recently the barrel bombs have contained chlorine, transforming the already illegal bombs into chemical weapons. Due to the extreme heights at which the bomb is released it is impossible for the Syrian government to target the exact location of the explosion, resulting in an in-discriminative weapon destroying everything in its path.

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Peggy Hicks the Global advocacy director of Human Rights Watch explained that the HRW team has been monitoring attacks using satellites and witness testimonies. This map Ms Hicks shared demonstrates the location of the bombs in the last nine months; they are clearly aimed at the residential region of opposition civilians; there have been approximately 200 strikes since February 2014.

Syrian activist Ibrahim Al-Assil explained that these unpredictable bombs put the Syrian civilians in a state of constant fear and panic, unable to resume any semblance of normal life, including schooling for children.

Ambassadors from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey, and the United States were unanimous that the current events in Syria are crimes against humanity and declared their full support for the motion from H.E. the Ambassador of France that the ICC should trial the Syrian government for the violation of international law and war crimes.

Chairperson H.E. Peter Van der Vietconcluded the conference with a call for the United Nations member states to unite on concrete action plans for the immediate termination of barrel bomb use and to enable the distribution of necessary food and medical supplies to civilians in Aleppo, who are in desperate need of security and support from the international community.

 

More extensive images on barrel bomb destruction in Syria can be viewed here: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/04/28/syria-new-barrel-bombs-hit-aleppo

 

Meeting Title: Barrel Bombs: Syria’s Indiscriminate Killers

Speakers: Chairperson H.E. Peter Van der Vliet, Ibrahim Al-Assil, Dr Samer Attar, Peggy Hicks the Global advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, Representatives of the Permanent Missions of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey, and the United States Mission

Location: United Nations HQ, New York

Date: 14 May 2014

Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark