Countering Violent Extremism in West Africa and the Sahel

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Violent extremism is fueled by factors including transnational drug trade, arms trade and human trafficking. H.E. Dr. Jerome Bougouma insisted that communities and civil society as a whole are indispensable to preventative measures against violent extremism. H.E. Dr. Bougouma recommended societies engage with religious leaders and traditional chiefs, who have local influence, to reach larger groups of people with messages of resilience and human rights. Rather than reacting to violent extremism the international community must approach terrorism with preventative initiatives to ensure the safety and security of every citizen. H.E. Ambassador Peterson agreed that the struggle against terrorism cannot be met simply through military means; it also requires understanding and dialogue between peoples, state actors and stakeholders.

Mr. Khan encouraged a focus on those socially and politically excluded within a community, particularly the youth, as inclusive governance transforms societies and unites them. Reaching out to the marginalized promotes dialogue amongst differing cultures and this communication eliminates the fog of hate and misunderstanding that leads to violence. Mr. Bombande expressed the dire need to close the generational gap surrounding misconceptions of extremist ideology amongst the youth. Mr. Bombande discussed the European role as aid providers to engage the attention of the youth in West Africa and the Sahel through activities such as the sports and arts. Mr. Millar criticized the international community for waiting as situations completely deteriorate before intervention and action; evidenced through the terrorist abduction of hundreds of girls in Nigeria. The lack of effective response demonstrated in Nigeria makes the region vulnerable to emerging criminal groups who have witnessed this weak governance in West Africa. Dr. Loada suggested that divisions amongst societies are due to powerful leaders surpassing their constitutional term limits. Leaders were encouraged to resist the power temptation for constitutional term amendments, which create volatile political disputes and divides citizens.

Meeting Title: Countering violent extremism and promoting community engagement in West Africa and the Sahel: Strengthening multilateral engagement
Speakers: H.E. Dr. Jerome Bougouma, H.E. Ambassador of Denmark Ib Petersen, Mr. Jehangir Khan, Mr. Alistair Millar, Mr. Emmanuel Bombande, Dr. Augustin Loada, Mr. Jesper Steen Pedersen
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 5 NLB, New York
Date: 12 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

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

OWG for Sustainable Development Goals: Focus Areas 15 & 16

Focus Area 15: Means of implementation/Global partnership for sustainable development 

Focus area 16: Peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law and capable institutions

H.E. the Ambassador of Bolivia on behalf of G77 and China acknowledged that the implementation process of the SDGs would determine the success of the program. The G77 delegates reiterated their support of Bolivia’s statement that the MDGs were weakened by the ill-defined implementation programs, particularly for the 8th MDG, and therefore action-orientated targets are key to maximising outcomes.

Delegates commonly asked that focus area 15 address; the removal of tariff boundaries, debt relief, market and trade access, prevention of elicit arms trade and human trafficking. H.E. the Ambassador of Denmark, Ambassador of Switzerland and representatives on behalf of Norway, Germany, France, and Australia, affirmed the need to engage with civil society, media and private sectors alongside multiple levels of governance for successful implementation worldwide.

State ambassadors and those representing the G77, Caricom, and the Non-aligned Movement have emphasised the role of peace as indispensable to the achievement of sustainable development for all states. In particular, H.E. the Ambassador of Croatia, focused on Croatia’s recent experience of war and corrupt governance, which has cemented their firm believe that factors of Sustainable Development are lead by safety, freedom of speech, inclusiveness, and institutions that are both accountable and capable.

Representative of Zimbabwe who spoke on behalf of the Southern African Counties expressed that the primary focus should instead be on the eradication of poverty, which would, in turn, provide peace to states. Representatives of Denmark, Egypt, Cuba and Brazil shared their concerns for inclusive societies and rule of law as a whole focus area and consider instead mainstreaming these targets throughout the paper amongst other focus areas.

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Meeting Title: Eleventh session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (9th meeting: Focus Areas 15 and 16)

Key Speakers:Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Hungary Csaba Kőrösi, Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Kenya Macharia Kamau and delegates on behalf of: Bolivia, China, Barbados, Iran, Papua New Guinea, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Benin, Lesotho, Colombia, Guatemala, Nauru, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Netherlands, UK, Australia, United States, Canada, Romania, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Sweden, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Singapore, Palau, Liechtenstein, Nigeria, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Latvia, Austria, Portugal, Cuba, Morocco, Egypt, Paraguay, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, India and Vanuatu

Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York

Date: May 9th 2014

Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark