Peacekeeping where “there is no peace to keep”

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The incumbent president of the Security Council, Russia, held an open debate on the new trends in UN peacekeeping operations. The Secretary-General opened the debate by recognizing the increasingly dangerous circumstances confronting peacekeeping, stating that very often “there is no peace to keep” where missions are dispatched. At a time when both the demand for peacekeeping and its cost increase, he urged the Security Council to renew their commitment to this core mission of the UN.

Jordan pointed out the challenge to peacekeeping rests on declining contribution of troops and policies from member states. Quoting the words of former peacekeeping chief Brian Urquhart, the Ambassador said that peacekeeping missions may be better served by a standing army if the low contribution from members persists. However, many in the council echoed the Secretary-General in recognizing the changing landscape for peacekeeping. In response, Luxembourg and Nigeria called for cooperation among peacekeeping missions and regional organizations as possible solutions to the problem. Britain pointed out that in the face of the changing demands of peacekeeping, attempts should be made on tailor-making mandate and apparatus for individual missions instead of codifying a universal standard.

The council was divided on the future of the mandate and capacities of peacekeeping. For instance, China stated that use of force must be limited to the self-defense of the mission in contrary to the Australian and American view that use of force is justified and needed to protect civilians. Further, while Chad and Rwanda were wary of technological advancement such as unmanned aerial vehicle, Nigeria, Russia and Lithuania pointed out the need to equip the Blue Helmets with appropriate equipment to facilitate their mission and alleviate budgetary concern. Concluding the initial round of discussion, the President stated her wish to produce an outcome document in light of the debate.

Meeting Title: Contributions of Human Rights and the Rule of Law
Speakers: Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Members of the UN Security Council and other Member States
Location: Security Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters
Date: 11 June, 2014
Written By WIT representative: Harrison Chung

ATT: Race to Fifty

The Arms Trade Treaty regulates the international trade of conventional arms.
It aims to promote peace and security by preventing ‘un-governed’ trade of arms in conflict regions;
prevent human rights violations; and ensure that weapons aren’t acquired by criminal groups.

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                       Today at the United Nations Headquarters, a special event marked one year of the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and a ceremony for newly ratified nations. Eight countries, namely: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Japan, Luxembourg, Samoa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago ratified the ATT. Thus raising the total number of ratifications to 40, one year after the agreement was opened for signatures. The historic treaty has now been signed by 118 states and will become legally binding in international law after 50 countries ratify.

At least 500,000 people die every year on average as a result of armed violence and conflict, and millions more are displaced and abused. H.E. Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia stated that, “by establishing, for the first time, globally-agreed standards for the regulation of the international conventional arms trade, the Arms Trade Treaty will help reduce illegal and irresponsible transfers of weapons which threaten the security of so many countries”. The ambassadors of the respective missions, hosting the event acknowledged and appreciated the commitment of the civil society in ensuring that the states remain honest in their road to the ratification of this treaty. They also urged and encouraged all states, especially those who are the biggest exporters and importers of arms to ratify the treaty.

 Meeting Title: Special event and ratification ceremony: “The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT): Approaching entry into force”
Speakers:  Permanent Missions of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Japan, Luxembourg, Samoa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago
Location: United Nations Headquarters, Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium (CB)
Date:  3 June 2014
Summary Written by WIT representatives:  Apurv Gupta and Aslesha Dhillon 

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