70 years of the Genocide Convention – demonstrating our commitment to the promise of “never again”

By Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide

This year we will commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention). The Genocide Convention was the first human rights treaty to be adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, on 9 December 1948, just three years after the birth of the United Nations. Its adoption was largely the result of the tireless efforts of one man, Raphael Lemkin who, after losing most of his family in the Holocaust, was determined to do what he could to make sure that this crime could never happen again. Some six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, one of the most devastating human tragedies of the twentieth century, as well as many others whom the Nazis considered “undesirable”. The Genocide Convention represents the United Nations commitment to the often quoted “never again”; a commitment to learn from and not repeat history.

Regrettably, this commitment has often failed to translate into action, even when it has been most needed. We saw this in 1994 in the abject failure of the international community to prevent the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda, which cost the lives of almost a million people in the space of 100 days. No more than a year later, we witnessed it again as the international community, including United Nations peacekeepers, looked away during the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Continue reading

SDGs Youth Training: Bringing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to Informal Settlements

The youth organization Possibility Thinkers, and the Ministry of Youth in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek hosted a training session on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals with the youth of the Moses II Garoeb Constituency. The UNIC team outlined the 17 Goals, detailing what each goal means and hopes to achieve. The introductory approach laid the foundation in discussing ideas and limitations but also provide practically applicable solutions that affect youth in communities.

The initial training facilitated by UNIC is a pilot in gauging youth awareness of the SDGs and is part of a larger programme by Possibility Thinkers titled,  “Namibia’s Development Question in the context of the SDGs.”  The aim of the programme is to create awareness on the SDGs at community level with the goals of creating platforms for engaging youth in the monitoring and accountability of the SDGs, developing a youth led accountability monitoring framework building the capacity of youth in social accountability, budget and service delivery tracking and sensitising the youth and community members about the SDGs and their importance in everyones life.

The programme will strengthen the network of Namibian youth engaging with the SDGs, encourage partnerships and bring together political, civil society and business leaders. Young leaders will have the opportunity to share experiences and perspectives on what needs to be done to realise the SDGs in Namibia by 2030.

The UNIC team engaged in a fruitful dialogue with 25 participants, age 18-43. The participants did break away sessions in smaller groups to develop action plans for a specific and concrete ways to implement the SDGs in the community. With a greater focus on SDG #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth.  Furthermore, the youth wish for continuous community engagement to apply knowledge and skills to benefit others or serve the public good

UNIC Windhoek supports SDG activity at Windhoek International

On Monday 1st of October, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) visited Windhoek International School (WIS), to facilitate dialogue on Sustainable Development Goal#1- No poverty. The team elaborated on SDG 1 and engaged with the youngsters to hear their ideas on possible action points.

The school hosts an engaging activity called ‘Make the world a better place’, headed by Ms Veena Nambiar, with the aim of making her students aware of the urgency in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to motivate them to do something to improve Namibia’s chances of achieving the SDG’s. The students, aged between 6 and 11, will attend the SDG sessions until the end of the school year in December, with the goal of taking visible action and contributing to efforts to end poverty. The activity was initiated in September, and was a proactive idea by the founder Ms. Nambiar.

The UNIC team provided a brief overview of the SDGs, reinforced understanding and  the interactions between goals and targets, which, is crucial to making the SDGs work. Youth will be critical agents of change in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Africa’s large youth population presents a complex problem that requires strategic investments in education, health, energy, skills, economic reforms and good governance. At a time when sub-Saharan Africa is going through significant changes in economic, social and political, technological and environmental frontiers, some youth across Africa are being left out.

The teaching placed significant focus on SDG#1 stating that ten people in developing regions are still living with their families on less than the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day, and there are millions more who make little more than this daily amount.

Windhoek International students voiced their opinions and thoughts on poverty. Highlighting factors of poverty and in the same vein provided solutions to gradual eradication. Students also participated in an ‘inequality exercise’ where they were put into different positions in the room but asked to do the exact same task, namely throwing a piece of paper in a bin. The exercise was a success in visualising inequality and encourage discussion to devise an action plan. The students proposed to organize fundraisers, engage with disadvantaged communities, donate belongings they no longer need, and develop new ideas to take action. UNIC Windhoek provided support material like a poster and supports the activity in pursuit of engaging youth on SDGs and popularising the goals at all levels in society.

Secretary General’s Message on World Post Day

The Secretary-General

Message on World Post Day

 9 October 2018

With more than 600,000 offices across the globe, the postal sector is one of the world’s largest logistical networks and a vital center of community life everywhere.

This year’s observance of World Post Day highlights the sector’s value not just for delivering the mail, but for delivering good.

Resilient postal systems offer support during natural disasters, financial services to hundreds of millions of people; and essential information in times of crises.

This network, through its international treaties and emphasis on universal service, is a constant voice for multilateralism and force for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  It also promotes literacy and education for children.

I encourage the world’s postal sector to continue its laudable efforts to advance progress for all and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

#MakeItYoursNamibia

#MakeItYoursNamibia SDG youth video

During the closing ceremony of the Model United Nations Namibia 2018 #MUNNAM2018 High school conference, we launched our Youth Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) video, calling on Namibian youth to internalise the Sustainable Development Goals and #MakeItYoursNamibia.  It is not enough to hope for a better future, we must act NOW!

Every bit can help, read about the small ways you can already take action in your homes, communities, at work…  https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/takeaction/

UN Announces Global Media Compact to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals

New York, 23 September – The United Nations announced today the launch of the SDG Media Compact, an initiative marking a new drive to advance awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were unanimously adopted by all world leaders at the United Nations in 2015. The Compact seeks to inspire media and entertainment companies around the world to leverage their resources and creative talent to advance the Goals.

Speaking at the launch at UN Headquarters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on behalf of more than 30 founding media organizations-encompassing more than 100 media and entertainment outlets-Olusola Momoh, Chairwoman, Channels Media Group-Nigeria introduced the Compact to UN Secretary-General António Guterres: “I am proud to present you the SDG Media Compact. We are an alliance of news and entertainment media and we are committing to work with the United Nations to foster public discourse and spur action on the Sustainable Development Goals. We will increase our content on the issues spelled out in the 2030 Agenda and discuss solutions. Where necessary, we will hold Governments to account for the bold promise they have made to their people and to the world.”

Collectively, the founding members of the SDG Media Compact already comprise an audience in the billions spanning over 80 countries on 4 continents and many more companies are expected to join. “Together, we commit to playing our part to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” she added.

“Achieving the Goals by 2030 will require concerted actions by everyone. By telling stories, news and entertainment media have a critical role in multiplying messages and propagating new ways of behaving,” said Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Alison Smale at the launch event. “As major players in fostering the SDG discourse, they are also key in holding governments accountable.”

The SDG Media Compact is inclusive and aims to embrace media companies from all regions and all platforms. Participating organizations will have the opportunity to create content partnerships with the United Nations, whereby the organization will increase its efforts to source and share high-value media content and newsworthy opportunities relating to the SDGs. Regular monitoring and review meetings will gauge engagement.

The Compact is an initiative of the United Nations, in collaboration with the UN Foundation and with the support of FleishmanHillard.

Founding Compact members

Al Jadeed TV-Lebanon, Aljoumhouria Newspaper-Lebanon, Annahar Newspaper-Lebanon, Asahi-Shimbun-Japan, Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcast Development, Association of Commerical TV in Europe, Association of International Broadcasters, Athina 9.84 Radio station-Greece, Channels Media Group-Nigeria, China Media Group, Daily Star Newspaper-Lebanon, Daily Tribune-Philippines, Deutsche Welle-Germany, Discovery, Inc., Eurasia-Azerbaijan, Eurovision, Kathimerini-Greece, LBCI TV-Lebanon, Lebanon Files News, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting-India, Naharnet News-Lebanon, National Union of Tunisian Journalists-SNJT, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun-Japan, Nippon TV-Japan, RLL Radio-Lebanon, Sounds Diplomacy, Tass-Russia, This Day-Nigeria, TVC-Communications-Nigeria, TV-BRICS-Russia, VDL Radio-Lebanon, Ziff Davis.

About the SDGs

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by world leaders at the historic Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015. Encompassing everything from health, to gender equality, and education, the Goals will mobilize efforts around the world to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

High School Youth simulate General Assembly to discuss the SDGs & Global Citizenship #MUNNAM2018

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek in collaboration with MTN Namibia hosted a two-day simulation of the General Assembly for high school youth at the Safari Court Hotel from 19-20 September 2018. This was the 7th Model United Nations Namibia (MUNNAM) Conference to be held with participants stemming from the Khomas, Erongo, Otjikoto and Hardap region. A total of 15 high schools in Namibia were represented at the conference.

Speaking on behalf of the UN System Namibia, Dr. Charles Segoe-Moses, WHO Representative, said, “Today as you stand in the shoes of delegates that represent their respective countries, think not only of yourself but the millions of young people that depend on you to lead the youth agenda.” He went on to say, “MUNNAM may just look like a role playing, but in reality, you are preparing yourself to be global citizens. Some of you may make these issues your life’s work and maybe you will find yourselves as humanitarian workers someday or working for the envoy on youth. As you are preparing yourselves for the future today, your time to take action and drive for change is now.” Continue reading

Secretary General’s remarks at funeral of Kofi Annan

The Secretary-General

Remarks at funeral of Kofi Annan

Accra, Ghana, 13 September 2018

[As delivered]

To Nane Annan and the Annan Family,

To Kofi Annan’s larger family, starting with you, President Akufo-Addo and the people of his beloved Ghana, and extending to every corner of the globe,

To the many members of the United Nations community who grieve the passing of one of our own.

Since the shock of Kofi’s death, I have been reflecting on what made him so special.

To my mind, it is simply this:

Kofi Annan was both one-of-a-kind and one of us.

He was an exceptional global leader — and he was also someone virtually anyone in the world could see themselves in: those on the far reaches of poverty, conflict and despair who found in him an ally; the junior UN staffer following in his footsteps; the young person to whom he said until his dying breath “always remember, you are never too young to lead — and we are never too old to learn.”

Like few in our time, Kofi Annan could bring people together, put them at ease, and unite them towards a common goal for our common humanity.

There is an old joke: The art of diplomacy is to say nothing … especially when you are speaking!

Kofi Annan could say everything, sometimes without uttering a word.

It came from the dignity and the moral conviction and the humanity that was so deep in him.

He had that gentle voice, that lilt that made people smile and think of music. But his words were tough and wise. And sometimes the graver a situation, the lower that voice would get.

We would lean in to listen. And the world would lean in. And we were rewarded by his wisdom.

Kofi Annan was courageous, speaking truth to power while subjecting himself to intense self-scrutiny.

And like his predecessor Dag Hammarskjold, he had an almost mystical sense of the role of the United Nations as a force for good in a world of ills.

All of this added up to a remarkable record of achievement.

He pioneered new ideas and initiatives, including the Millennium Development Goals and the landmark reforms in his report, “In Larger Freedom”.

He opened the doors of the United Nations, bringing the Organization closer to the world’s people and engaging new partners in protecting the environment, defending human rights and combating HIV/AIDS and other killer diseases.

Kofi Annan was the United Nations and the United Nations was him.

Dear Friends,

Kofi Annan was also my good friend.

We marched through life together in many ways.

When the people of Timor-Leste were seeking self-determination, we worked together — he from the United Nations, and I from Portugal — to support the peaceful resolution of their plight.

When the UN Refugee Agency needed new leadership, Kofi blessed me with his trust in asking me to fill that role – and then provided unwavering support to protect and shelter the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.

Now that I occupy the office Kofi once held, I am continually inspired by his integrity, dynamism and dedication.

To him, indifference was the world’s worst poison.

Even after finishing his term as Secretary-General, he never stopped battling on the front-lines of diplomacy.

He helped to ease post-election tensions in Kenya, gave his all to find a political solution to the brutal war in Syria and set out a path for ensuring justice and rights for the Rohingya people of Myanmar.

Kofi straddled many worlds, North and South, East and West.

But he found his surest anchor in his African roots and identity.

The great Nelson Mandela, accustomed to being called Madiba, had his own nickname for Kofi, and called him “my leader”.

This was no jest. Kofi was our leader, too.

When I last saw him not long ago at the UN, his bearing was how I will always remember him: calm yet determined, ready to laugh but always filled with the gravity of the work we do.

He is gone now and we will miss him immensely.

But I am sure of this — if we continue to lean in and listen hard, we will still hear the words and wise counsel of Kofi Annan.

“Please carry on,” I hear him saying.

“You know what to do: Take care of each other. Take care of our planet. Recognize the humanity in all people. And support the United Nations — the place where we can all come together to solve problems and build a better future for all”.

Dear Friends,

Let us continue to heed that voice of grace and reason – that voice of morality and solidarity.

Our world needs it now more than ever.

As we face the headwinds of our troubled and turbulent times, let us always be inspired by the legacy of Kofi Annan — and guided by the knowledge that he will continue speaking to us, urging us on towards the goals to which he dedicated his life and truly moved our world.

Thank you.

Bookmark the Spokesperson’s website: http://www.un.org/sg/en/spokesperson
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UNIC Windhoek introduce children’s storybook, Frieda and the Sustainable Development Goals

 30 August 2018, Windhoek: The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek launched its children’s storybook, Frieda and the Sustainable Development Goals at the UN Library in Klein Windhoek on Thursday, 30 August 2018.

Speaking at the launch on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Ms Edda Bohn, Programme and Quality Assurance Director said, “The story book is an exciting way to make the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the message of sustainability resonate with an audience as young as 3 to 11 years of age.”

The Director, together with the Resident Coordinator to Namibia ad interim (a.i.) representative Mr. Bali Mankay Sankoh, World Food Programme Director officially launched the story book with media, teachers, UN colleagues, children and senior government officials.

The story is about a small girl called Frieda who goes on an exciting adventure learning about the SDGs. The book was created by UNIC Windhoek and is an important tool to be used to teach young children about the global goals.

Frieda and the Sustainable Development Goals is a valuable tool for teachers to prepare the Namibian boy and girl child to take action for their future. “Frieda’s story is meant to capture the imagination of children and encourage them to bring about positive change starting from when they are small,” says UNIC Windhoek’s Head, Anthea Basson.

UNIC Windhoek will distribute the book to primary schools in Namibia, and it will be a welcome addition to formal and informal school libraries and book corners. The book is supplemented by a useful parent/teacher guide which explains difficult concepts and is aimed at sparking conversations about a sustainable future with children.

Storytelling is an integral part of the all-round development of the child. In pre-primary and primary schools, a large amount of curriculum time is dedicated to storytelling. The story is written in English, and UNIC Windhoek plans to translate in other local languages over the next two years. It is currently being reproduced by UNICs across the globe and is also being translated into the official UN languages at UN Headquarters.

The story of Frieda and the Sustainable Development Goals has a universal message – we can all help achieve the SDGs no matter how young or old. Frieda’s mission is to spread the news about the SDGs, she calls for people to be bold and take action!

The illustrations and design were done by a Namibian woman, Nelett Loubser, owner and designer of a local graphic design agency in Namibia. Nelett cleverly and artistically used the SDGs as inspiration for Frieda’s patterned African dresses and she subtly brought in accents of Namibia to give the story a Namibian feel. She was instrumental in bringing to life the vision the Centre had for the creation of the main character – Frieda, a curious Namibian girl, who is eager to change Namibia and the world. Frieda’s bright eyes, curly hair and excitement to learn and make friends make her a relatable character to children from all walks of life.

Background information:

 In September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the subsequent Sustainable Development Goals (SDGswere officially adopted by all 193 United Nations Member States including New Zealand. The SDGs replace the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from January 2016.

International Day of Indigenous peoples: protecting the rights of the world’s most Vulnerable Groups

The 9th of August is set aside as a day to remember a group of people that have been forgotten for years and whose cultures and languages are at risk of being extinct. Indigenous people account for close to 370 million of the world’s population living across 90 countries. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) indigenous people make up for less than 5 percent of the world’s population and yet account for 15 percent of the world’s poorest people. 

Indigenous people are said to speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s 7 000 languages and represent 5 000 distinct cultures. This population group has for years maintained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are different from the world’s most dominant societies. Regardless of their differences, all indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples. Natives have continuously sought recognition of their identities, way of life and their right to traditional land, territories and natural resources. Up to the present, indigenous peoples rights have for years been violated. Indigenous people are arguable amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged group in the world according to UNDESA.

The theme for 2018, international day of world’s indigenous peoples focuses overall on, ‘migration and movement’. This includes also the current situation of indigenous people, who as a result of losing their lands, territories and resources have been forced to migrate to urban areas seeking better prospects of life, education and employment. Additionally, some have also fled to other countries evading persecution and conflict in their home countries, alienating them from their tribal land and customs.

The indigenous peoples of Namibia include the San, the Ovahimba, Ovazemba, Ovatjimba, Ovatue and Nama. These communities experience myriad social, cultural and economic difficulties in relation to the mainstream populations of Namibia. The san people of Namibia are said to constitute approximately 1.3% up to 3.5% of the population. The majority of Indigenous people are said to have been dispossessed of their ancestral land and resources and often no longer have the rights over their territories. The Natives in Namibia are believed to be living in extreme poverty and their life expectancy is said to be way lower than the national average. The Draft white paper on the rights of indigenous people in Namibia even mentions that some of the San groups have completely lost their language whilst adapting languages of neighbouring groups.

The United Nations strives to make use of a human rights based approach to planning and policy making for development. This approach ensures that human rights principles, such as equality and non discrimination are met by duty bearers. The 10th SDG for example attempts to reduce inequalities for all peoples. This SDG includes aims to reduce the inequality amongst all population groups in Namibia. These aspirations are in-line with the second UNPAF pillar on Social Transformation which seeks to achieve equitable access to education, protection of rights and access of integrated social protection services by the most vulnerable groups.

Namibians and the rest of the international community must bend together in-order to protect the rights of indigenous people and ensure that their distinct and unique culture does not go extinct. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres notes that, “the 2030 agenda for sustainable development must realize the rights of indigenous peoples across all the goals. Indigenous peoples must not be left behind.”