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Reimagining Multilateralism Today: Strengthening Preparedness and Response to Address Global Crises

mer, 30/06/2021 - 18:56
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On June 30th, IPI in partnership with The Elders, cohosted a virtual interactive discussion on “Reimagining Multilateralism Today: Strengthening Preparedness and Response to Address Global Crises.”

The transnational nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for a reinvigoration of multilateral cooperation now more than ever. In the wake of the United Nations’ 75th anniversary, many have questions about how the multilateral system is changing and how it must adapt to meet future challenges.

In the past year, the UN system has been called upon to address both the unprecedented health challenge of a global pandemic and its compounding effects, from rising inequality to widening geopolitical divisions. As momentum for action grows, the international community must decide how to best empower multilateral institutions to lead global responses to present crises and those of the future. With the world at a historic inflection point, there is an opportunity to challenge assumptions and consider new and innovative approaches to international cooperation.

International cooperation will be essential for ensuring a sustainable and equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and for tackling the existential peace and security threats from future pandemics and climate change, among other global threats, which the world must confront together.

This discussion focused on ways to create a stronger, more nimble multilateral system now in order to meet today’s challenges, as well as those in the coming decades.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, IPI President and Member of The Elders
Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland and Chair of The Elders

James Bays, Diplomatic Editor at Al Jazeera

The UN’s Response to the Human Rights Crisis After the Coup in Myanmar: Destined to Fail?

lun, 28/06/2021 - 21:14

Since seizing power in a coup on February 1, 2021, Myanmar’s military has launched a violent crackdown against anti-coup protesters—a campaign of terror that may amount to crimes against humanity. With violence spreading, there are fears that the country is slipping toward full-scale civil war and state collapse. The international community has appeared almost powerless to respond to this human rights crisis, reflecting a broader weakening of its resolve to prevent and respond to atrocity crimes over the last decade.

This policy paper analyzes the human rights crisis created by the coup in Myanmar and assesses the response of the UN, within the context of broader international efforts, when viewed against the many commitments that have been made to protect people from atrocity crimes. The first section outlines the different elements of the human rights crisis and the violations that have been occurring. The second section places the events in Myanmar in the context of international commitments, including by the UN, to address atrocity crimes. The third section reviews the human rights tools that are at the disposal of the UN to understand what works and what does not and to highlight innovative ways to address such a challenging situation. The paper concludes with proposals for what an agenda for protection in Myanmar might entail, building on the ambitious Call to Action for Human Rights launched by the UN secretary-general in 2020.

The unfolding tragedy in Myanmar is one of the first major tests of the secretary-general’s initiative, and so far, the UN’s response—both as an intergovernmental body of member states and as a system of operational entities—has been woefully inadequate. While there is no simple recipe for halting the atrocity crimes, the UN could take a combination of measures at several levels:

  • Grounding the response in a political strategy;
  • Increasing capacity for human rights monitoring and quiet diplomacy;
  • Providing clear leadership that encourages a less risk-averse approach;
  • Devising a whole-of-system approach to the UN’s response;
  • Scaling up protection services; and
  • Supporting existing nationally or locally-led protection efforts.


Safeguarding Humanitarian Action in Counterterrorism Contexts: Addressing the Challenges of the Next Decade

jeu, 24/06/2021 - 21:40

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On June 24th, IPI and the Permanent Mission of Germany, with the co-sponsorship of the Missions of Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland to the UN, cohosted a virtual event entitled “Safeguarding Humanitarian Action in Counterterrorism Contexts: Addressing the Challenges of the Next Decade.”

This virtual policy forum was convened as an official side-event on the margins of the 2021 High-Level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States. Following the adoption of the seventh review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS) by the UN General Assembly, the event provided an opportunity to discuss the role of UN member states and of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact in promoting respect for principled humanitarian activities in counterterrorism contexts.

Concerns about the impact of counterterrorism measures on humanitarian action have grown in recent years. Support for addressing this issue has especially increased since the inclusion of supportive language on international humanitarian law (IHL) in the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS) in 2016 and 2018, as well as the adoption of Security Council Resolutions 2462 (2019) and 2482 (2019). In his last report on the implementation of the GCTS, the secretary-general recalled Resolution 2462 and noted that “upholding the impartiality of humanitarian actors and refraining from any politicization of humanitarian assistance is critical, given that humanitarian actors are increasingly operating in settings with an active terrorist threat and being targeted by terrorists.” Despite growing momentum, the unintended challenges that counterterrorism policies pose for the delivery of humanitarian aid have not been alleviated, and actions to mitigate the impact of these measures remain limited.

As the characteristics of armed conflict and other situations of violence evolve—including a multiplicity of armed groups designated as “terrorists” by the UN Security Council and member states—there is a need to examine counterterrorism policies and humanitarian needs in a holistic manner. As member states, including the heads of their counterterrorism agencies, gather to discuss the evolution of counterterrorism in an age of transformative technology, greater attention should be given to the need to safeguard humanitarian action, as foreseen by Pillar IV of the GCTS and by relevant Security Council resolutions.

Panelists analyzed how UN member states and the UN system can concurrently address two considerable challenges they face over the next decade: an evolving terrorist threat and unprecedented humanitarian needs. Taking into account Pillar IV of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, they discussed ways to ensure that counterterrorism efforts do not reduce the space for humanitarian actors to operate when and where needed. In particular, panelists highlighted how member states and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact can best promote and facilitate humanitarian activities.

Welcoming Remarks:
Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, IPI President

Opening Remarks:
Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN

Ms. Laetitia Courtois, Permanent Observer to the UN & Head of Delegation for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Professor Naz K. Modirzadeh, Founding Director of the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict
Dr. Jehangir Khan, Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) and the Office of Counter-Terrorism

Closing Remarks:
H.E. Mr. Agustín Santos Maraver, Permanent Representative of Spain to the UN

Mr. Jake Sherman, IPI Senior Director of Programs

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2021 Global Peace Index: Measuring Peace in a Complex World

ven, 18/06/2021 - 00:30
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On June 17th, IPI together with the Institute for Economics and Peace cohosted a virtual policy forum to mark the release of the 15th edition of the Global Peace Index.

Produced by the international think tank the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), the Global Peace Index (GPI) report presents the most comprehensive, data-driven analysis to date on trends in peace, its economic value, and how to develop peaceful societies. As the first analysis to methodically rank countries according to their levels of peacefulness and to identify potential determinants of peace, the GPI measures the peacefulness of 163 countries and territories, covering 99.7 percent of the world’s population. It is comprised of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources. These indicators are grouped into three key domains: ongoing conflict, safety and security, and militarization.

The Institute for Economics & Peace is dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress. At this event, the key findings from the report were examined, together with a closer analysis of specific country-level findings.

Mr. Steve Killelea, Founder and Chairman, Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)

Ms. Ayaka Suzuki, Director of Strategic Planning and Monitoring Unit, Executive Office of the Secretary-General

Dr. Youssef Mahmoud, IPI Senior Adviser

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The UN Strategy for the Digital Transformation of Peacekeeping: Implications for the 2021 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial

jeu, 17/06/2021 - 17:55
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On June 17th, IPI together with the Permanent Missions of the Republic of Korea and Germany to the UN cohosted a virtual policy forum entitled “The United Nations Strategy for the Digital Transformation of Peacekeeping: Implications for the 2021 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial.”

Today, the majority of UN peacekeeping missions are deployed in complex, high-risk environments that have compelled the UN to better integrate technology into its field operations. This integration of technology can improve situational awareness and early warning/action; enhance camp and convoy security; provide stable Internet and integrated communication networks; strengthen conflict monitoring and analysis; promote energy efficiency and reduce environmental pollution; and provide training and capacity building in these and other areas. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the challenges faced by UN peacekeeping missions and has spurred the rapid adoption of available technology for day-to-day communication, remote work, and other routine tasks.

Technological solutions can support UN peacekeeping operations in implementing their mandates in complex environments, including by helping them to adapt to changing conflict dynamics and take advantage of increased efficiencies. The Strategy for the Digital Transformation of UN Peacekeeping seeks to advance the use of technology across the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) themes, including performance, safety and security, politics, protection, and peacebuilding. It sets out goals and actions and indicates areas for support from the Secretariat and external actors (member states, the technology sector, and others) over the next three years.

In this context, the Republic of Korea has identified technology and medical capacity building as cross-cutting themes for the 2021 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial, scheduled to take place in Seoul in December. The ministerial will have the aim of encouraging member states to consider pledges that will support and enhance ongoing efforts by the UN in these areas. Member states have already demonstrated the value of partnerships with the UN to provide technology solutions. These range from small-scale, high-impact projects based on member-state financial support to longer-term strategic cooperation whereby member states have worked with the UN to provide specific capacities and expertise in response to identified challenges.

This public virtual policy forum shared key elements of the UN peacekeeping technology strategy. It highlighted mission perspectives on how technological solutions can support mandate implementation, as well as potential risks. It also indicated areas where member states, in their role as military, police, and financial contributors, can support the UN in matching technological solutions through their pledges at the ministerial.

Welcoming Remarks:
Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, IPI President

Opening Remarks:
H.E. Mr. Cho Hyun, Permanent Presentative of the Republic of Korea to the UN

Ms. Rania Dagash, Chief, Policy and Best Practice Service, UN Department of Peace Operations
Mr. El Hadjie Diene, Chief, Joint Mission Analysis Centre, United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali
Ms. Safia Boly, Chief of Staff, United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Lt. Col. Stefan Lemm, German Bundeswehr
Mr. Sanjana Hattotuwa, Special Advisor at the ICT4Peace Foundation

Closing Remarks:
Mr. Patrick Carey, Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Information and Communications Technology, Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance and Department of Operational Support

Mr. Jake Sherman, IPI Senior Director of Programs

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At the Nexus of Participation and Protection: Protection-Related Barriers to Women’s Participation in Northern Ireland

mar, 15/06/2021 - 21:41

The protection of women in armed conflict and their participation in peace and security activities are central pillars of the women, peace, and security (WPS) agenda. Overall, however, the WPS agenda has overlooked the relationship between participation and protection. This perpetuates a false binary between the participation of women as leaders with agency and the protection of women as victims of conflict. It also misses the gendered, context-specific, and conflict-related protection risks that accompany women’s participation. Finally, it overlooks the critical link between the harms women experience and their low levels of representation.

This paper considers the intersection between women’s participation and protection in the context of Northern Ireland. While often assumed to be free of “global policy” concerns such as WPS, Northern Ireland starkly illustrates the intrinsic connections and tensions between women’s leadership and protection in conflict and post-conflict situations. After providing an overview of these connections and tensions more broadly, this paper examines the participation and protection of women in Northern Ireland since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. It draws from twenty-five semi-structured interviews with women in leadership positions in Northern Ireland.

The paper concludes that gender inequalities and gendered insecurities intersect with sectarianism, the legacy of violence, and political crises arising from power-sharing arrangements under the peace agreement. These, in turn, intersect with emerging technologies such as social media to stymy women’s participation across all areas of post-conflict political life. While these findings underscore the continued relevance of the WPS agenda, they also signify that deeper engagement with gendered protection issues is required if the agenda is to substantively advance women’s equality and participation in the longer term.


SDG Zero? A People-Centered Approach to Universal Connectivity

jeu, 03/06/2021 - 17:01

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On June 3rd, IPI together with Microsoft’s Office on UN Affairs cohosted a virtual policy forum entitled “SDG Zero? A People-Centered Approach to Universal Connectivity.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic has increased reliance on digital technologies, it has highlighted the growing digital divide between and within societies. Universal access to the digital world has become more urgent than ever, and failure to achieve it could undermine progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. While closing the digital divide and increasing connectivity is among the UN secretary-general’s priorities for 2021, this goal remains elusive and faces many obstacles.

Authored by Jimena Leiva Roesch, Senior Fellow and Head of IPI’s Peace and Sustainable Development Program, the issue brief “SDG Zero? A People-Centered Approach to Universal Connectivity,” is based on a series of three roundtable discussions convened by IPI, together with Microsoft, in March and April 2021. The paper identifies obstacles to universal connectivity and considers how they can be overcome, looking particularly at the human rights risks of rushing to close the digital divide and how these risks can be mitigated. Ultimately, it concludes that achieving meaningful and sustainable progress toward digital inclusion requires all actors to commit to working through a multi-stakeholder platform.

Opening Remarks:
H.E. Mr. Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, and seventy-sixth President of the Economic and Social Council
H.E. Mrs. Valentine Rugwabiza, Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the UN

Mr. Bryan Kariuki, Director at Mawingu Networks LTD
Professor Antonio García Zaballos, Lead Specialist on Telecommunications, Inter-American Development Bank
Mr. Scott Campbell, Senior Human Rights Officer, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Ms. Ayaka Suzuki, Director of Strategic Planning and Monitoring Unit, Executive Office of the Secretary-General
Mr. Chris Fabian, Co-Founder, Giga UNICEF

Closing Remarks:
Mr. John Frank, Vice President for UN Affairs, Microsoft

Dr. Adam Lupel, IPI Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

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Prioritizing and Sequencing Security Council Mandates: The Case of UNITAMS

jeu, 20/05/2021 - 16:18

In June 2021, the UN Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) for the first time. This comes at a pivotal moment in Sudan’s transition, with the Sudanese transitional government facing high expectations from the Sudanese public amid a rapidly changing environment.

In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), the Stimson Center, and Security Council Report organized a virtual workshop on April 26, 2021, to discuss UNITAMS’s mandate and political strategy. The workshop offered a forum for member-state representatives, UN officials, and outside experts to develop a shared understanding and common strategic assessment of the situation in Sudan. The session was intended to help the Security Council make informed decisions with respect to the strategic orientation, prioritization, and sequencing of UNITAMS’s mandate and actions on the ground.

While the current mandate broadly covers the substantive areas where the UN can play a constructive role, participants encouraged the Security Council and the mission to begin articulating a clearer focus for UNITAMS’s strategic objectives. They highlighted that UNITAMS’s credibility and capacity to promote more inclusive political processes and governance systems remain its greatest added value. They also emphasized that the Security Council should allow the mission the flexibility to scale up or reduce capacities as needed to address all major issues confronting Sudan—whether the peace processes, inclusive approaches to protecting civilians, or the building of frameworks and environments for sustainable peace and the protection of human rights.

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Protection, Justice, and Accountability: Cooperation between the International Criminal Court and UN Peacekeeping Operations

lun, 03/05/2021 - 21:59

Most countries that host UN peacekeeping operations face an impunity gap. Their national courts often lack the capacity to prosecute international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and grave violations of human rights. As a result, special or hybrid courts and international courts, like the International Criminal Court (ICC), often have to step in. In such contexts, some UN peacekeeping operations have been mandated by the UN Security Council to support justice, fight impunity, and pursue accountability, mainly in support of national justice mechanisms.

This issue brief focuses on cooperation between UN peacekeeping missions and the ICC. After discussing the impunity gap when it comes to international criminal justice, it outlines frameworks that provide a foundation for cooperation between the ICC and the Security Council. It then explores the benefits of cooperation and the political barriers and conflict dynamics that have prevented UN peacekeeping operations from fully assisting the ICC.

The paper concludes by considering how the protection of civilians (POC)—particularly the establishment of a protective environment—could provide opportunities for cooperation between peacekeeping operations and the ICC in pursuit of a more coherent approach to international justice. Given that international justice reinforces protection mandates, POC could serve as a guiding principle for peace operations’ future support to international criminal justice. By reflecting and building on best practices and lessons learned from previous challenges, peacekeeping operations can more effectively pursue international justice and ensure the sustainability of their protection efforts.


Transitions from UN Special Political Missions to UN Country Teams

mer, 28/04/2021 - 18:46

The UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) currently manages twenty-five special political missions (SPMs) that have a field presence. Nonetheless, research and guidance on UN transitions has mainly focused on peacekeeping operations. This paper takes a first step toward filling that gap by exploring transitions from SPMs to UN country teams (UNCTs).

Focusing on the programmatic and political aspects of transitions, this paper explores the particular challenges of transitioning from an SPM to a UNCT by studying the closure of four missions: the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) in 2011, the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB) in 2014, the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) in 2014, and the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) in 2020. After presenting the main characteristics of SPMs, it discusses some of the challenges and characteristics of SPM transitions based on the four case studies.

These four case studies show that the drawdown of special political missions with a field presence shares several features with the drawdown of peacekeeping missions, but some aspects are specific to SPMs. In the coming years, the UN will need to develop a more comprehensive picture of the key elements to take into consideration during SPMs’ lifecycles and transitions, as well as specific guidance on the transition of SPMs. This could help the UN deliver a “continuum of responses and smoother transitions” while supporting national priorities.


Interfaith Leaders Reaffirm Commitment to Peace and Sustainable Development

mar, 27/04/2021 - 21:15

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A collection of interfaith leaders convened by IPI MENA came together on April 27th to reaffirm their commitments to promoting peace, dialogue, and sustainable development.

During the interventions, French Ambassador Jerome Cauchard emphasized how good education is a prerequisite for the new generations, wherein empathy and the ability to mutually respect and understand each other can lead to peace.

In reference to the increasing number of violent and hate crimes in the United States, US Charge d’Affaires Margaret Nardi reminded the audience of the importance of the diplomatic corps in that, similar to religion, “embassies try to create relations on a personal level, meet them as a person and see their humanity,” which has become particularly important this year during the pandemic.

German Ambassador Kai Boeckmann drew attention to the German Task Force on Religions of Peace that was established in 2016. Ambassador Boeckmann noted the common objective between interfaith leaders and diplomats to “build trust, protect the weak, and strive for stability.”

Mounir Bouchenaki, Advisor to Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), advanced UNESCO’s message on the culture of peace; “through knowing cultural heritage, through education, appreciation of the other, and knowing the other that we can avoid the unfortunate situations of terrorism and massacres of people.”

IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji opened the webinar, “Interfaith Dialogue: Solidarity for Peace,” by paying homage to Stephanie M., a French police officer and the latest victim of violent extremism in the name of religion. Following a moment of prayer and meditation for all victims, Mr. Friji strongly condemned any acts of violent extremism in the name of religion committed by individuals, groups, or states and called for greater solidarity, partnership, and cooperation at all levels through a “message of tolerance, mutual respect, and peace.”

Addressing interfaith leaders of Baha’i, Jewish, Christian, Islam, and Hindu denominations, Reverend Hani Aziz, President of the White Flags Association, Pastor of the National Evangelical Church, and co-organizer of the webinar, reminded the audience that the “true enemy is ignorance and intolerance.”

Pujya Brahmavihari Swami, Religious Leader & International Spokesperson of BAPS Hindu Mandir addressed the audience from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. His message of peace highlighted the “beauty in diversity,” drawing on the links between faith, science, and sustainable peace.

In light of the numerous religious celebrations that coincide with the Spring season, Ms. Tahera Jaberi, Representative of the Baha’i Faith, noted the celebration of Nowruz, Baha’i New Year, is “a time for renewal and reawakening,” not just in the physical world, but the spiritual one, too. “Religion can be seen as a system of knowledge and practice that offers insights and values that can help societies advance.”

Pastor Job Nelson of Bethel Church of Nations in Bahrain, also shared how the celebration of Easter symbolized a season of hope and coexistence, serving as a time for endurance, resurrection, and restoration.

Dr. Abdulla Ahmed Al Maqabi, Law Courts Directorate, Ministry of Justice & Islamic Affairs, echoed the message that all religions carry the message of peace. “We are one about peace, we are one for peace, we are one for everything about peace,” he said.

Mr. Ebrahim Nonoo, Representative of the Jewish Community and President of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities, followed suit by identifying the core message of all holy books as underlining the workings of all societies, “the glue of respect for each other and the acceptance of all religions.”

Chaplain Aaron Carlton, US Naval Forces Central Command, Fifth Fleet Chaplain, expressed his purpose and intent to promote peace, understanding, and dialogue while Pastor Blaine Newhouse, National Evangelical Church, shared his commitment to working toward justice, reconciliation, and peace through faith with those who are likeminded.

Following the interfaith interventions, the virtual floor was opened to a large audience comprising of diplomatic corps, private sector, and media.

IPI Chair Briefs UNSC on Protecting Vital Infrastructure, Natural Environment

mar, 27/04/2021 - 19:11

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On April 27th, IPI Chair Kevin Rudd briefed the UN Security Council Open Debate on the “Protection of Objects Indispensable to the Survival of the Civilian Population,” convened by Vietnam.

In his remarks, Mr. Rudd cites examples of attacks against vital human infrastructure and the natural environment—something that is prohibited by international law—and then lays out what more can be done to prevent such attacks.

Said Mr. Rudd: “The UN Security Council, and its members, must take the lead in respecting and ensuring respect for international humanitarian law, including in upholding their obligation to protect objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. This is the bare minimum yet would yield the maximum results for the protection of essential infrastructure and for mitigating humanitarian and development impacts in the long run.”

SDG Zero? A People-Centered Approach to Universal Connectivity

lun, 26/04/2021 - 16:39

As the COVID-19 pandemic has increased reliance on digital technologies, it has highlighted the growing digital divide between and within societies. Universal access to the digital world has become more urgent than ever, and failure to achieve it could undermine progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. While closing the digital divide and increasing connectivity are among the UN secretary-general’s priorities for 2021, this goal remains elusive and faces many obstacles.

This paper, based on a series of three roundtables convened by IPI, together with Microsoft, in March and April 2021, identifies some of these obstacles to universal connectivity and considers how they can be overcome. It looks in particular at the human rights risks of rushing to close the digital divide. Ultimately, it concludes that achieving meaningful and sustainable progress toward digital inclusion requires all actors to commit to working through a multi-stakeholder platform.

In a spirit of collaboration and to stimulate further dialogue, the paper puts forward the following recommendations:

  • Expand the definition of universal connectivity;
  • Tie digital inclusion to the 2030 Agenda;
  • Ensure that the roll-out of universal connectivity is benevolent;
  • Support context-specific national and local strategies;
  • Develop new financing models such as sovereign guarantees or digital bonds;
  • Build a common understanding of connectivity and digital inclusion;
  • Build confidence among different actors; and
  • Give the UN a leadership role.


Whose Peace are We Building? Leadership for Peace in Africa

ven, 23/04/2021 - 16:26

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On Monday, May 17th, IPI together with the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London, is pleased to invite you to the launch of the book Whose Peace are We Building? Leadership for Peace in Africa, authored by Dr. Youssef Mahmoud with Dr. Albert Mbiatem. Following the book presentation, there will be a panel discussion and Q&A.

Remarks will begin at 6:00am PST / 9:00am EST

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What is the relationship between leadership and peace? What kind of leadership styles, processes, and strategies are required to gain a deeper understanding of local context while at the same time maintaining the trust and cooperation of host authorities and other stakeholders on the ground? As concerns mount about the continued relevance and efficiency of UN peace operations, Dr. Youssef Mahmoud–who led several challenging peace missions in Africa–draws on many years of experience to offer insights into how leadership might be exercised to help restore and nurture peace.

Dr. Mahmoud makes the case for a paradigm shift in the type of leadership required to bring about strong, global diplomacy for peace. Making extensive use of the authors’ unique personal experiences in Burundi, Central African Republic, and Chad, the book offers an informed insight into the leadership challenges of complex conflict and post-conflict situations.

Dr. Youssef Mahmoud, IPI Senior Adviser
Dr. Albert Mbiatem, African Leadership Centre (ALC) alumnus and member of ALC’s Central Africa Hub

Amb. Fatima Kyari Mohammed, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the UN
Amb. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Former UN Special Envoy to Burundi and President of the Centre for Strategies and Security for the Sahel Sahara (Centre 4s)
Prof. ‘Funmi Olonisakin, Member of the Advisory Group of Experts for the 2015 Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture, Vice-President & Vice-Principal (International) and Professor of Security, Leadership, and Development at King’s College London
Mr. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, DPPA-DPO

Dr. Adam Lupel, IPI Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Moving Away from Rhetoric: How to Systemically Include Youth in Peace and Climate Action

mar, 20/04/2021 - 16:15
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IPI and the Global Challenges Foundation cohosted a virtual policy forum on April 20th that focused on the synergies and connections between the youth, peace, and security (YPS), and climate action agendas, including how to ensure more meaningful engagement with youth leaders across the world on peace and climate governance. It also launched an issue brief on this topic.

Youth have emerged as a powerful voice in the fight against climate change, demanding transformative change to safeguard the planet. Many youth-led organizations from around the world are also engaged in initiatives to build peace and prevent violence in their communities. Youth movements are increasingly calling for their voices to be heard and for policymakers to include them in decision-making processes at the local, national, and global levels.

The following questions guided the discussion:

  • Using the YPS and climate action agendas as leading examples of youth engagement, how can youth be more systematically engaged in decision-making processes at the local, national, and global levels?
  • 2021 is a pivotal year for renewing multilateralism. How can we use the alignment in the Security Council on climate change and the upcoming COP26 and Stockholm+50 Conference to transform governance structures that have excluded youth?
  • What do donors need to do differently for funding to be accessible to youth-led organizations?
  • How do we better engage youth as experts in building evidence, gathering data, and developing case studies on the synergies between peace and climate action?

This event brought together stakeholders from governments, the United Nations, and civil society, ensuring intergenerational and inclusive participation.

Opening Remarks:
H.E. Dr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, IPI President

H.E. Ms. Inga Rhonda King, Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the UN
H.E. Ms. Johanna Lissinger Peitz, Ambassador for Stockholm+50
Mr. Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Assistant Secretary-General for the Climate Action Team
Ms. Nisreen Elsaim, Chair of UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group and Chair of the Sudan Youth Organization on Climate Change
Ms. Disha Sarkar, Ambassador for the International Youth Conference from India

Ms. Jimena Leiva Roesch, IPI Senior Fellow and Head of the Peace and Sustainable Development Program

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Youth Participation in Global Governance for Sustaining Peace and Climate Action

lun, 19/04/2021 - 18:15

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Youth movements have played an increasingly prominent role in calling for action to address climate change. Many youth-led organizations are also engaged in initiatives to build peace in their communities. In global policymaking fora, however, youth remain sidelined.

This issue brief outlines the synergies between the youth, peace, and security (YPS) and youth climate action agendas. It also examines the factors that contribute to young people’s exclusion from global governance, including negative misperceptions of youth, outdated policy frameworks, lack of funding, and weak links between youth and global governance fora.

The paper concludes with recommendations for governments and multilateral institutions to better assess the links between youth, peace, and climate change and include young people in decision-making processes. Recommendations include:

  • Bridging the gap between national governments and youth organizations;
  • Bridging the gap between global governance institutions and youth organizations;
  • Systematically putting youth on the agenda of intergovernmental fora and conferences;
  • Prioritizing YPS and youth climate action within the UN Secretariat;
  • Making funding mechanisms more accessible to youth organizations; and
  • Expanding the evidence base on the intersections between youth, climate change, and peace.
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MENA Water Challenges: An Opportunity for Regional Cooperation

lun, 22/03/2021 - 20:31

Event Video 

In a webinar organized on March 22, 2021 under the theme “MENA Water Challenges: An Opportunity for Regional Cooperation,” IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji underscored the need for a multi-layered, coherent and comprehensive approach to unleash the potential of water as a tool for regional integration and cooperation. The event coincided with World Water Day.

“Cooperation on water issues can lead to political processes enabling-cross border coordination which in turn diminishes tensions,” Mr. Friji said.

During his keynote address, Mr. Mahdi Al-Hamdani, the Iraqi Minister of Water Resources, acknowledged the growing challenges the region faces, citing population growth, urban expansion, and climate change in addition to security and political challenges, pointing to Iraq’s Tigris and Euphrates regions as examples. He called for unified awareness, cooperation and effective management of water resources at all levels of the multilateral system in order to achieve the United Nations’ sustainable development goals related to water.

Ms. Akissa Bahri, former Tunisian Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, stressed that the MENA region’s strategy for water security should focus on “strengthening collaboration and integration” among countries in the region. She pointed to the North African aquifer system as an example of a sustainable, regional cooperative management system via Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia’s collective action in successfully garnering support and funding from international bodies.

Ms. Lena Salame, Conflict Management Specialist at Geneva Water Hub (GWH), poignantly reminded the audience that “unlike other resources, there is no alternative for water.” She said only through committing to the water agenda, might we “mobilize political will – it is the key ingredient to making the [UN’s humanitarian, peace, and sustainable development] agendas move forward.”

Mr. Waleed Zubari, Professor of Water Resources Management at Arabian Gulf University (AGU), raised the dilemma on the perception of water’s “value” in the Gulf region—one of the most water stressed subregions—where its value is often equated to price. The region’s reliance on desalination bears high costs on the financial, economic, and environmental fronts.

Mr. Maruan El-Krekshi, Head of MENA Department at Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) in Finland, shared his organization’s efforts in water diplomacy, particularly with regard to their conflict resolution activities. He highlighted the efficacy of using water as an entry point to convene relevant actors in the region to cooperate within and beyond the context of conflict in the region, drawing from CMI’s work in Libya since 2015.

German Ambassador to Bahrain, Kai Boeckmann announced Germany’s plans to join the Middle Eastern Desalination Research Center (MEDRC), and reiterated Germany’s intention to contribute to cooperation over water disputes in the region.

Among those who took part in the discussion were Raji Unnikrishnan from Bahrain daily newspaper, Gulf Daily News (GDN); Mr. Ebrahim Nonoo, President of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities; Ms. Arwa Kooli, journalist from Dar Assabah; and Joanna Meyer, a water advocate.

The event was hosted by the IPI MENA office. As a key instrument of peace, water remains at the top of IPI MENA’s Regional Integration project.

Bangladeshi Envoy Appeals for Lasting Solution to Rohingya Crisis

lun, 15/03/2021 - 20:18

Event Video 

Bangladesh Ambassador to Bahrain Dr. Md. Nazrul Islam, joined by speakers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), launched an urgent appeal to the international community for a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis, and urged the multilateral system to facilitate the voluntary, safe and sustained repatriation of the refugees back to Myanmar.

During an IPI MENA’s virtual Ambassadorial Conference Series on “The Culture of Peace and the Forcibly Displaced Rohingya People” on March 15, IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji opened the event by stressing the importance of a culture of peace in areas such as the promotion of human rights, women and youth, economic integration and regional integration. “In a global environment that has seen heightened rhetoric of hate, intolerance and acts of violence, the practice of the culture of peace is especially pertinent,” he stated.

Highlighting Bangladesh’s policies to integrate and put to practice a culture of peace, Dr. Nazrul Islam emphasized that inclusive growth-led policies, namely empowering women, change lives through development. He pointed to Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, a woman at the helm of a Muslim-majority country, as a role model through her policies towards aiding the 1.2 million Rohingya refugees hosted in Bangladesh.

Dr. Nazrul Islam elaborated on Bangladesh’s efforts within the multilateral system to facilitate the voluntary, safe and sustained repatriation of the Rohingyas back to their homeland in Myanmar, stressing, “By ensuring justice and accountability, reaching the culture of peace becomes linked to eliminating the culture of impunity.”

A Senior Research Fellow at BIDS, discussant Dr. Nazneen Ahmed noted BIDS independence as a think-tank that conducts policy research on socio-economic development issues within Bangladesh. She acknowledged that while 20% of the country’s 160 million people still live under the poverty line, Bangladesh’s decision to invest in women and children’s education will decrease disparity, and put the country’s projected “developed” status by 2041 within reach.

She regretted Bangladesh’s limited resources and called for support from the international community, stating, “non-financial means of support such as regional integration agreements, are equally crucial to maintaining and achieving peace.”

Mr. Marghoob Saleem Butt, Executive Director of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), noted that Bangladesh, a member of the OIC since 1974 with a vast Muslim population, holds strong values in line with the culture of peace and underlined OIC’s similar commitments to advocating human rights and peace.

Mr. Butt stated that “adopting a Culture of Peace, starting with the overhaul of the education system and aligning policies within a human rights framework, are keys to successful development.” He stressed that an all-inclusive approach involving broader civil society and political leadership in Myanmar must pave the way for peaceful coexistence.

German Ambassador to Bahrain, Kai Boeckmann, questioned the role of the UN in enabling a voluntary, dignified, and safe return of the Rohingyas, to which Dr. Islam reiterated Bangladesh’s engagement with the relevant UN agencies, such as the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. Mr. Butt suggested the UN Security Council (UNSC) impose concrete measures to bring the refugees back through a phased program.

United States Charge D’Affaires to Bahrain, Margaret Nardi, expressed the US’ continued support to Bangladesh regarding the Rohingya crisis as a partner within the UNSC. She referred to US sanctions on Myanmar’s military officials and the freezing of over $1 billion in funds in the country as a means to put pressure towards a democratic process.

UN Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Advisor and Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), Mounir Bouchenaki expressed concern over the loss of cultural heritage, intangible and tangible, during times of crises to which Dr. Islam replied urging the international community’s support in initiating projects that will assess and take necessary steps to preserve cultural heritage at risk of being removed.

Indian Ambassador to Bahrain, Piyush Srivastava, commented on India’s shared interests of working with Bangladesh to resolve the crisis and expressed hope in the international community’s cooperation towards aiding the Rohingya people.

Moderating the panel, Mr. Friji pointed to the recent concerns regarding Bangladesh’s relocation of the Rohingyas to Bhasan Char island. Dr. Islam emphasized that the temporary facilities and measures were put in place after appropriate assessments of the island, assuring that no efforts are being spared to help protect the Rohingya, and pointed to Bangladesh’s recent vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 to the Rohingya refugees in his country.

Participants of the webinar included representatives of the diplomatic corps, government, civil society, private sector, as well as the media.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein Appointed IPI’s Next President & CEO

ven, 12/03/2021 - 16:49

The International Peace Institute’s Board of Directors today announced the appointment of Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein as the next President & CEO. Zeid will become IPI’s 5th President & CEO since the institution was established in partnership with UN Secretary-General U Thant in 1970 with a mission to manage risk and build resilience to promote peace, security, and sustainable development.

Zeid served as the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018 after a long career as a Jordanian diplomat, including as his country’s Permanent Representative to the UN (2000-2007 & 2010-2014) and Ambassador to the United States (2007-2010). He served on the UN Security Council, was a configuration chair for the UN Peace-Building Commission, and began his career as a UN Peacekeeper in the former Yugoslavia. He has also represented his country twice before the International Court of Justice, served as the President of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court from 2002-2005, and in 2005, authored the first comprehensive strategy for the elimination of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN Peacekeeping Operations while serving as an advisor to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Zeid holds a PhD from Cambridge University and is currently a Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also a member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights, founded by Nelson Mandela.

“Zeid will bring to the role a unique mix of high-level diplomatic experience and first-class academic credentials in grappling with complex peace and security matters,” said the Chair of the IPI Board and former Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd. “Zeid’s reputation precedes himself. Around the world he is deeply respected for his integrity, ethical leadership, and commitment to human rights. Working with the rest of the IPI staff and wider community, he is perfectly placed to help build the next chapter of IPI’s history.”

Zeid’s appointment follows an extensive executive search as well as a screening and interview process involving representatives from the IPI Board, International Advisory Council, and external stakeholders. He will commence in the role in late March.

Commenting on his appointment, Zeid said, “When I arrived in New York in 1996 as a young diplomat, Kofi Annan advised me to seek out Olara Otunnu and his able staff at the International Peace Academy (as it was then known) for their expertise. I am delighted, so many years – and UN experiences later – to be joining the IPI team at this point in time. Hopefully, we’ll also inspire young diplomats and UN staff the way I was inspired all those years ago.”

Adam Lupel, who has been IPI’s Acting President & CEO since October 2020, will resume his role as IPI’s Vice President & COO.

“The IPI community owes Adam a tremendous debt of gratitude for his extraordinary efforts in recent months. I know for a fact that his own commitment to transparency and integrity is held in the highest regard by the IPI staff, donors and partners,” said Rudd.

IPI MENA, UN Women, UNHCHR, ESCWA and Bahrain Call for Women Leadership and Empowerment

lun, 08/03/2021 - 20:46

Addressing representatives of government, private sector, the diplomatic and civil society on the occasion of International Women’s Day, IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji joined a global call to further women’s leadership and empowerment.

During a virtual conference on March 8th that brought together around five hundred participants, H.E. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, opened the event by underscoring the significant progress and continued efforts that Bahrain has made toward women’s affairs, which has contributed to the kingdom’s successful development over the years.

H.E Hala Al Ansari, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Women (SCW), reiterated Bahrain’s active commitment to further women’s participation in the international arena, with regard to women in diplomacy, citing membership to several United Nation bodies for women, and Bahrain’s chairing the 36th session of the Arab Women Committee of the League of Arab States in 2017.

In light of the workshop’s theme of women’s rights and achieving family and community stability, Al-Ansari stressed the ‘importance of enabling women to practically and realistically exercise their rights as human beings under the auspices and protection of the state of law and institutions.’ She expressed the SCW’s priority in continuing to work closely with stakeholders to ensure the full implementation of the rights stipulated in the country’s constitution, which were explicit in the aspect of equal rights and duties among its citizens, women and men.

Mr. Abdullah bin Faisal bin Jabr Al-Dosari, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, presented a comparison on women’s rights in international standards and national applications, by giving an overview to some of the kingdom’s international achievements in the field of women’s rights, that have led to feats in the family unit.

During his intervention in the plenary session, Mr. Friji encouraged Bahrain’s commitment toward achieving sustainable social and economic development, through the inclusion of women throughout legislation and long-term initiatives. He pointed in particular to the National Action Charter, noting it had the active support from and for women throughout its implementation that “sheds light on developing visions that protect childhood and the family to achieve equality among all citizens without any discrimination.”

Ms. Susanne Michael, Regional Director for the Arab States of UN Women, reiterated how women’s leadership throughout the pandemic has demonstrated how the empowerment of women would not only garner significant contributions to the economy post-Covid-19, but also results directly in a stronger family unit. Therefore, “boys and men are not only vital allies but main beneficiaries when it comes to women empowerment.”

Dr. Akram Khalifa, the Regional Adviser on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Issues (UN ESCWA), stated that gender should be integrated into all aspects of national policies, strategies, and action plans, through mainstreaming a gender perspective in national policies and considering gender issues in all aspects of their implementation, monitoring and reporting.

Roueida El Hage, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) MENA Representative, cited the obstacles that women continue to face in gaining equal rights as men, as these are based on social structures and power relations that frame everyday life. However, she acknowledged the great strides that have been made in the kingdom to minimize these problems in the last decade alone, which has resulted in the improvement of the rights for women and girls.

All speakers paid homage to the women who are on the frontlines fighting the pandemic, and agreed on the need for a holistic community effort during the post-Covid-19 recovery and beyond, in the economic and social realms.

Participants of the webinar included H.E. Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Dr. Hala Al-Ansari, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Women, Mr. Abdullah bin Faisal bin Jabr Al-Dosari, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Susan Michael, Regional Director for the Arab States (UN Women), Ms. Roueida El Hage, OHCHR Regional Representative for the MENA, Dr. Akram Khalifa, Regional Adviser on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment issues (ESCWA), and National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR) Chairwoman Maria Khoury.