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Preventing and Responding to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: Examining the Use of UN Sanctions

Wed, 17/04/2024 - 18:00
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In advance of the Security Council’s open debate on conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), IPI, together with the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the UN, co-hosted a policy forum on April 17th on the topic of “Preventing and Responding to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: Examining the Use of UN Sanctions.”

The purpose of this policy forum was to consider how sanctions have been used in response to CRSV. The discussion examined the relationship between the annual reports of the secretary-general on CRSV and sanctions designations and provided recommendations to enhance complementarity.

The policy forum also launched the IPI publication “UN Tools for Addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: An Analysis of Listings and Sanctions Processes,” written by Jenna Russo and Lauren McGowan. The event and publication were made possible with generous support from the government of Denmark.

Opening Remarks:
H.E. Christina Markus Lassen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN

Lauren McGowan, Policy Analyst, International Peace Institute
Tonderai Chikuhwa, Senior Policy Adviser, UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict
Natascha Hryckow, Associate Fellow, Global Fellowship Initiative of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, and Former Coordinator for the UN Panel of Experts on Somalia (VTC)
Francesca Cassar, Africa, Economic and Development Coordinator, Permanent Mission of Malta to the UN
Pauline Brosch, Policy Specialist, Protection and Transitional Justice, UN Women

Jenna Russo, Director of Research and Head of the Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, International Peace Institute

UN Tools for Addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: An Analysis of Listings and Sanctions Processes

Tue, 16/04/2024 - 18:24

Since the Security Council first recognized conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) as a threat to international peace and security in 2008, the UN has developed an increasing number of pathways to prevent and respond to such crimes. One of these is the annual report of the secretary-general on CRSV, which includes an annexed list of perpetrators who are credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of CRSV violations in contexts on the agenda of the Security Council. In addition, perpetrators of CRSV may also be designated in UN sanctions regimes. Yet while both of these processes aim to prevent and respond to CRSV, they are not always coherent with one another.

This paper analyzes the relationship between the annual reports of the secretary-general on CRSV and sanctions designations to provide recommendations to enhance their complementarity. It provides an overview of the CRSV annual report and the process for listing parties. It then focuses on designations in sanctions regimes for crimes related to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including the level of coherence between the reporting of the secretary-general and designations in sanctions regimes. Next, the paper analyzes the reporting and political barriers that inhibit more regular designations for SGBV in sanctions regimes. Finally, it provides recommendations to the UN and member states on how to improve the coherence, coordination, and effectiveness of these processes, including the following.

For member states:

  • Explicitly list SGBV as a criterion within all sanctions regimes for contexts where sexual violence may be taking place.
  • Prioritize utilizing existing SGBV-related criteria as appropriate with available evidence.
  • Provide additional resources for panels of experts.
  • Increase coherence between the parties listed in the annual reports on CRSV and the individuals and entities designated in sanctions regimes.
  • Organize an annual field visit for sanctions committees to the context in question.
  • Create a standing capacity within the UN to engage with designated parties, with the aim of encouraging compliance and facilitating de-listing.

For the UN Secretariat and panels of experts:

  • Establish a platform for regularly coordinating and sharing information between the office of the special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict and panels of experts.
  • Institute more structured handover processes between incoming and outgoing members of panels of experts.
  • Provide more robust training on SGBV for panels of experts.
  • Strengthen CRSV expertise and capacity within the Security Council Affairs Division.

Can the World Bank Deliver on Climate Change? Testing the Evolution Roadmap through Loss and Damage

Mon, 15/04/2024 - 17:55

The establishment of a new Loss and Damage Fund and Funding Arrangements at COP27 and the Fund’s operationalization and initial capitalization at COP28 were milestones in the UN climate regime. The World Bank engaged in the Transitional Committee (TC) process as a potential host and trustee for the Fund, a member of a new “High-Level Dialogue,” and a direct provider of loss and damage (L&D) support. The implementation of the Fund and Funding Arrangements—the mosaic—is the first big test of the World Bank’s commitment to evolving its policies, practices, and relationships.

This paper discusses the World Bank’s engagement with loss and damage, including the context of broader reforms aiming to modernize the Bank, such as the Bank’s Evolution Roadmap, which identifies three guiding elements for the Bank’s evolution: a new mission and vision, a new playbook, and new resources. One of the key components of the Bank’s evolution is the introduction of climate-resilient debt clauses (CRDCs) or “pause clauses.” Pause clauses feature prominently in recent initiatives to reform the international financial architecture, such as Bridgetown 2.0, the Africa Climate Summit’s Nairobi Declaration, and the Vulnerable Twenty Group’s (V20) Accra-Marrakech Agenda.

The paper also discusses the debate over the World Bank’s hosting of the Fund and the set of conditions and safeguards, determined by developing countries, that the Bank would have to meet in order to host the Fund. Finally, the paper discusses priority actions for the High-Level Dialogue, including resource mobilization, institutional protocols, and the losses and damages of the future.

Cybersecurity and UN Peace Operations: Evolving Risks and Opportunities

Fri, 29/03/2024 - 15:36

This paper discusses the growing potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities of UN peace operations. Fast-moving changes in the cyber capabilities of state and non-state actors, the changing nature of asymmetric warfare, and the positioning of the UN in relation to global and regional geopolitics are increasingly placing peace operations in the crosshairs of complex cybersecurity threats. In parallel to these external trends, internal trends in missions’ intelligence, surveillance, and data management technologies also make them more vulnerable to cyber threats. At the same time, there are opportunities for missions to leverage cybersecurity infrastructure to support the implementation of their mandates, including in the areas of mediation and political settlements and the protection of civil society actors.

The paper provides an overview of the cyber threats facing peace operations and opportunities to leverage cybersecurity tools for mandate implementation. It also documents the operational and policy challenges that have arisen and the Secretariat’s efforts to address them. It concludes with several recommendations for the UN as peace operations seek to operate in an increasingly fraught political and cybersecurity environment:

  • The Secretariat should develop cross-cutting operational concepts and guidance for cyber threat assessments.
  • The Secretariat should articulate its understanding of its duty of care for staff privacy and develop operational guidance and expertise for mitigating threats to privacy.
  • When facilitating political processes, peace operations should consider whether cybersecurity measures will be equally effective in deterring hacking attempts by all parties to ensure they do not exacerbate “information asymmetries.”
  • The UN should explore the boundaries around missions evading or obstructing surveillance or intrusion activities by host states to secure their operations.
  • The Secretariat should mitigate the volume of data exposed to external systems, including by deploying UN-owned and UN-operated intelligence and surveillance devices when possible.
Photo credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten


Advancing Feminist Foreign Policy in the Multilateral System: Key Debates and Challenges

Thu, 28/03/2024 - 22:23

Since the first feminist foreign policy (FFP) was adopted by Sweden in 2014, sixteen countries have either published an FFP or announced their intention to do so. Some proponents of FFPs have indicated that these policies can be a way to democratize and transform multilateralism, integrating feminist approaches and principles into multilateral institutions and leading to more inclusive and equitable outcomes. This requires seeing FFPs as not just a “women’s issue” but also as a way to reinvigorate an outdated and inequitable system through transformational change and the interrogation of entrenched power dynamics, including in areas such as trade, climate, migration, and disarmament.

One obstacle to realizing the potential of FFPs is that there is no single definition of feminist foreign policy. Part of the challenge is that there are many interpretations of feminism, some of which reflect a more transformative, systemic approach than others. Ultimately, there is no single way to “do” feminism, and approaches to FFP should, and will, vary. If FFP is to survive and grow, it will encompass contradictions and compromises, as with all policymaking, and civil society and member states will have to collaborate to advance feminist principles in the multilateral arena.

To explore the future of FFPs, the International Peace Institute, in partnership with the Open Society Foundations and in collaboration with the co-chairs of the Feminist Foreign Policy Plus (FFP+) Group, Chile and Germany, convened a retreat on Feminist Foreign Policy and Multilateralism in July 2023. Drawing on insights from the retreat, this paper discusses five ongoing debates that FFP-interested states should meaningfully engage with:

  • Militarization, demilitarization, and the root causes of violence;
  • Global perspectives and postcolonial critiques;
  • The branding and substance of FFPs;
  • The domestication of FFPs; and
  • Accountability and sustainability.
Photo credit: Ministerie van Buitenland Zaken, Shaping Feminist Foreign Policy Conference 2023

Kenya’s National Peacebuilding and Prevention Strategy

Thu, 21/03/2024 - 22:45
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IPI in partnership with the Life & Peace Institute and the Permanent Missions of the Republic of Kenya, Norway, and Sweden to the UN, cohosted a policy forum on March 21st assessing lessons learned from Kenya’s Peacebuilding Architecture Review.

The pursuit of peace, a foundational goal at the establishment of the UN in 1945, requires member states to assume primary responsibility for conflict prevention through initiatives that are nationally owned and people-centered, respect human rights, and enhance inclusivity and social cohesion. Its implementation requires a constant refreshing of peacebuilding and conflict prevention and resolution methods. This year, determining a way forward on these issues will be key to the impact hoped for in the Pact for the Future.

In 2023, in line with the push for national governments to take the lead in “identifying, driving and directing priorities, strategies, and activities for peacebuilding and sustaining peace,” the Government of Kenya commissioned a review of its national peacebuilding architecture. The initiative was spearheaded by the National Steering Committee on Peacebuilding and Conflict Management and assisted by an Independent Panel of Advisors (IPA), with support from the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office and other partners. Resulting from the highly consultative process involving Kenyans from diverse backgrounds, the IPA submitted to Kenya’s political leadership a report with a comprehensive set of observations and recommendations, structured around four pillars: (1) defining a national agenda for peace, (2) promoting political inclusion, (3) enhancing conflict prevention and resolution, and (4) proposing a new institutional architecture for peacebuilding. By pursuing an independent assessment that values the insights and contributions of local peacebuilders and civil society, Kenya demonstrates national ownership and leadership.

The audience heard from the IPA reflecting on its experiences on the review journey and the key findings and recommendations, with a particular emphasis on partnership opportunities in the implementation phase.

Opening Remarks:
H.E. Andreas Løvold, Chargé d’affaires and Deputy Permanent Representative of Norway to the UN
Elizabeth Mary Spehar, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA)
Shamsa Abubakar, Deputy Chair for the Independent Panel of Advisors for the Peacebuilding Review

Raymond Omollo, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Interior and National Administration, Government of Kenya
Lesley Connolly, Team Leader, Global Policy, Life & Peace Institute
Rana Taha, Peace and Development Advisor, United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office, Kenya
Sheikh Abdullahi Abdi, Independent Panel of Advisors for the Peacebuilding Review

Jenna Russo, Director of Research and Head of the Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, International Peace Institute

Closing remarks:
H.E. Martin Kimani, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kenya to the UN
H.E. Anna Karin Eneström, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN

A High-Level Panel Discussion on Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan

Fri, 08/03/2024 - 18:21

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In collaboration with the Malala Fund and the Atlantic Council, IPI hosted a high-level panel discussion to mark International Women’s Day on March 8th. The event addressed the harrowing reality of millions of women and girls living under systematic oppression at the hands of the Taliban and highlighted the ongoing efforts of Afghan women and the international, legal, and research communities to ensure justice for these abuses—in particular, the momentum around efforts to codify the crime of gender apartheid.

The discussion placed thought-leaders of international law, human rights experts, Afghan women, diplomats, and activists in dialogue to offer insights on the lack of basic rights and fundamental freedoms for women and girls in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s repressive regime took over in August 2021. Panelists shed light on the crimes being perpetrated by the Taliban, called on the international community to recognize these crimes, and discussed developing tools for accountability. The event also offered a platform for the testimony of women and girls impacted by the Taliban alongside that of legal and policy experts on gender apartheid.

Participants heard directly from Afghan women and girls in the audio recordings of the initiative “Inside Afghanistan’s Gender Apartheid,” an interactive audio timeline and collaborative effort between the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center and the Civic Engagement Project. The initiative, which was publicly launched at the event, documents the first-hand accounts of life under gender apartheid and analyzes the impact of the Taliban’s increasingly entrenched and institutionalized legal system that curtails freedom, stifles potential, and erodes dignity.

Deputy Permanent Representative of Mexico Alicia Buenrostro Massieu delivered opening remarks, situating the deteriorating state of Afghan women and girls within the larger international imperative to achieve and protect gender equality for all. Articulating the global backlash on women’s rights she instructed, “the pushback is intensifying and so must our response…it is high time to end the systematic exclusion of women and girls.”

Nayera Kohistani, women’s rights defender and teacher, spoke from her personal experience of “dehumanization” and being reduced to a “second-class citizen…with no human agency or dignity.” While she painted a vivid and grim picture of the situation that Afghan women face on the ground where “the Taliban has criminalized [their] whole existence and identity,” she also shared details of Afghan resistance and protest.

Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai labeled the event a true moment of solidarity. She drew attention to the technologies of “highly calculated policies of oppression” that the Taliban relies on, noting that Afghanistan is the only country in the world that forbids girls from completing an education. She emphasized the need for solidarity from the global community with the girls who are “having their childhood and their future stolen” to not only change the conditions for Afghan girls but to also communicate to all girls around the world that their education, humanity, and human rights matter.

Panelists Penelope Andrews, anti-apartheid expert and Professor of Law and Director of the Racial Justice Project at New York Law School, and Dorothy Estrada-Tanck, Chair of the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls, provided the legal and policy expertise on the codification of gender apartheid in international law. Drawing from a depth of knowledge on racial apartheid in South Africa, Professor Andrews identified the situation of women in Afghanistan as unequivocal gender apartheid based on the evidence of systemic, vicious, and comprehensive oppression and denial of basic civil and political rights on every level. She made an actionable request: include gender apartheid in the draft convention on crimes against humanity. To galvanize and focus efforts, she said, naming a harm is one of the most influential tools available so there is an imperative to recognize what is happening to Afghan women clearly: “This is gender apartheid – calling this what it is, we can create the conditions for people to be able to live dignified lives.”

Dorothy Estrada-Tanck identified the explicit codification of gender apartheid in Afghanistan as a priority for the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls. While there are legal instruments currently available to address the rights violations women in Afghanistan are facing based on human rights tools built over the last 80 years, Estrada-Tanck pinpointed their insufficiency to identify and frame the mass nature and scale of this “state-sponsored, institutionalized and systematic oppression and subjugation.” Recognizing and codifying this as a crime against humanity is necessary to accurately name and understand the full scope of the elements of this regime and most importantly, to trigger action from the international community. Calling on the international community’s not just moral, but legal obligation to prevent and combat this crisis, she concluded, “This is a test for the multilateral system, where are we going to draw the red line?”

The event was co-sponsored by the Global Justice Center, Rawadari, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and the Permanent Missions of Mexico and Malta.

Opening/Closing Remarks:
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, President and Chief Executive Officer, International Peace Institute
H.E. Vanessa Frazier, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Malta to the UN
H.E. Alicia Buenrostro Massieu, Deputy Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN

Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Laureate
Nayera Kohistani, Afghan Activist and Expert
Penelope Andrews, John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law & Director, Racial Justice Project, New York Law School
Dorothy Estrada-Tanck, Chair, UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls

Jomana Karadsheh, International Correspondent, CNN

National Action and the New Agenda for Peace: IPI VP Adam Lupel Speaks at the 2024 Parliamentary Hearing at the UN

Thu, 08/02/2024 - 23:35

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The UN Secretary General’s New Agenda for Peace places a strong emphasis on national action to prevent conflict and achieve sustainable development. As a result, national parliaments have an important role to play in the pursuit of a strengthened system of global governance and a more effective approach to collective security.

From February 8th-9th, over 200 parliamentarians from around the world convened for the 2024 edition of the annual Parliamentary Hearing between the UN and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The hearing took place as negotiations are ongoing for the Pact of the Future and in anticipation of a Summit of the Future that UNGA President Dennis Francis describes as a “once in a generation opportunity” to fast-track transformative solutions for improved multilateralism. This year’s theme, “Putting an end to conflicts: Prescriptions for a peaceful future,” shaped two days of wide-ranging conversations.

IPI Vice President and COO Adam Lupel spoke at the first meeting of the 2024 Parliamentary Hearing on the panel “The Future of Peace and Security: From good intentions to a renewed collective action.” Dr. Lupel identified the decay of universal commitments to international law and normative constraints on the use of force as the principal strategic threats to peace and security. Building on the New Agenda for Peace’s three core principles of trust, solidarity, and universality, he discussed the corrosive effect that geopolitical divisions and interests have had. Commenting on parliaments’ place in promoting universality, Dr. Lupel said “If we want to rebuild our capacity for collective security, we must demand that our leaders are morally and practically consistent in the application of international norms and the protection of civilians so that all countries, all peoples, feel that the system is there for them. And I think parliaments are well placed to make that demand.” Dr. Lupel also stressed that parliaments need to take a long-term view of cultivating the positive conditions of peace and that they have several tools of conflict prevention, such as preventive diplomacy, accountability mechanisms against excessive use of force, and the integration of a diverse range of actors at all levels of decision making. Similarly, he placed extra emphasis on the pursuit of gender equality and the eradication of gender-based violence as a core goal of the New Agenda for Peace that Parliaments are well-placed to effectively champion and achieve.

Honoring Warren Hoge, Former IPI Vice President of External Relations

Fri, 05/01/2024 - 18:00

“He was a consummate professional, a dear friend to so many and so wonderfully decent. He will be sorely missed.” – Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, President & CEO of the International Peace Institute

By profession, Warren was a journalist, but by nature he was a diplomat—fully aware of the power of words to engage, to inform, to inspire, to change the world,” said Gillian Sorensen, former Assistant-Secretary-General for External Relations at the UN, when she spoke at Warren’s Celebration of Life on November 29th. The event brought together Warren’s beautiful family, friends, and colleagues to remember and honor Warren Hoge, and the positive impact he had on so many lives.

Warren came to the International Peace Institute as the first Vice President of External Relations following his extraordinary, event-filled 32-year career at The New York Times. Prior to coming to IPI he was the Chief UN Correspondent for the Times. He joined IPI in 2008—the same year IPI opened its own, dedicated event space, The Trygve Lie Center for Peace, Security & Development. I had recently joined the organization at that time, and I was fortunate to have him as my supervisor.

When I first met Warren, I was pregnant with my first child. Not long after meeting him, I experienced what many first-time mothers do and was rushed to the hospital thinking something was wrong, only to find I had Braxton Hicks (false labor). It happened so quickly that my husband called the office to let them know I had to miss work to go to the hospital. Not long after I was admitted, the phone rang in my hospital room and – to my surprise – I heard a kind, radio-quality voice coming through the receiver. It was my new supervisor, Warren Hoge, who was calling to check on how I was doing and make sure I was OK. I was moved by his thoughtfulness and the concern he showed. This is one of countless stories that exemplify the compassion Warren had for his colleagues. His management style centered around kindness and care. He was deeply committed to the importance of family life and his face would light up whenever he spoke of his family. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to have learned from him, a person who valued connection and consistently acted with empathy and compassion—the building blocks of peace.

It was very fitting that he came to work at IPI after retiring from journalism. It was at a moment when IPI was beginning to reach out beyond the UN community and organize more events to bring together different sectors working toward our goal of creating a more peaceful and sustainable planet. Warren’s vast knowledge of world affairs, his deep conviction for the importance of international cooperation, coupled with his way of being in the world, informed how the organization evolved.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, IPI President and CEO reflected that, “He was a consummate professional, a dear friend to so many, and so wonderfully decent. He will be sorely missed.”

In her speech about Warren’s work with the UN, Gillian Sorensen rightly said, “He was an idealist without illusion. A caring critic of the UN. Never demeaning, never dismissive.” She also said, “He knew its [the UN] potential and its limits. He knew its impact on New York City and its many functions beyond peace and security, including health and human rights, and so much more… He believed the UN was imperfect but indispensable. That it was there … as a location for representatives from every nation on earth to come to be heard, to connect, to engage. He believed in the power of diplomacy to make a better world.”

During his time at IPI, Warren spearheaded the original redesign of the organization’s website, wrote NYT-quality coverage of our events, and created the “Distinguished Authors Event Series,” a series of evening receptions featuring authors of recently published books connected to pressing international relations concerns and peace. He co-produced and narrated IPI’s 40th Anniversary film; conducted interviews with world leaders and experts—including almost all of the 2016 candidates for UN Secretary-General; and was the most well-prepared of moderators for countless IPI panel discussions. He was also a devoted mentor to interns and junior staff, and someone who always took the time to provide advice and guidance to those who sought it.

He had a zest for life that uplifted those around him. Being from Manhattan, he developed throughout his life a great love for music, good food, and the theater. He also loved to sing and often filled the office with music, bringing a spirit of joy to the work.

After Warren’s passing, the UN Secretary-General’s Spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, announced to the UN press core, “After retiring from the Times, Warren moved to the International Peace Institute, where he remained deeply involved in international affairs, and kept in touch with so many of you. As we extend our condolences to his wife Olivia and their children, we remember Warren as a true gentleman reporter who was unfailing in his kindness, his easy grace, and detailed reporting of the ups and downs of this institution.”

Following this announcement, American journalist and UN Correspondent for the Associated Press, Edie Lederer, stated: “On behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association, we would also like to send condolences to the family and many friends of Warren Hoge around the world. He was a terrific journalist who reported from South America, Brazil, London, and many global hotspots before coming to the UN. As you so rightly said, he was a charming man and a great raconteur. And he will be greatly missed by all of us who knew him.”

Warren elevated IPI’s work beyond the UN community and into the broader international affairs community around the globe. He exemplified what peace means in practice. He had a natural way of connecting at a heart-level with all those he worked with and interacted with. He led IPI’s External Relations to new heights, broadening its audience and reach – always with sincerity, kindness, and respect. IPI is deeply grateful for his extraordinary contributions.

IPI’s Vice President and COO, Adam Lupel, who worked with Warren for 15 years said it well: “He was among the most memorable of characters imaginable—genuinely kind and generous to all, the greatest of storytellers, a gentleman of capacious heart and warm smile. He will be dearly missed.”

His life lives on in the stories he told, the lives he influenced with his wisdom and wit, and his compassion and care. His empathy, genuine kindness, and contributions to creating a more peaceful world will always be remembered.

~ Mary Anne Feeney, IPI Senior Director for External Relations

Safeguarding Humanitarian Action in UN Sanctions and Counterterrorism Regimes: The Impact and Implementation of Resolution 2664

Tue, 12/12/2023 - 17:41

Humanitarian organizations have repeatedly called attention to the challenges that counterterrorism resolutions and UN sanctions regimes can pose to humanitarian action. In response, the council has progressively incorporated language that better takes into consideration international humanitarian law (IHL), international human rights law (IHRL), humanitarian principles, and the need to protect principled humanitarian action from the potential negative consequences of sanctions and counterterrorism measures. Most notably, in December 2022, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2664, which provides a cross-cutting humanitarian exemption to asset freezes under all its sanctions regimes, including the 1267 counterterrorism regime against ISIL/al-Qaida, to safeguard the timely and effective conduct of humanitarian activities.

In this context, IPI and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Office in New York hosted a closed-door, hybrid roundtable on November 14, 2023, to assess the implementation and impact of Resolution 2664, including its potential application to counterterrorism measures. This roundtable provided a platform for exchanges between humanitarian organizations, member states, the UN Secretariat, civil society organizations, and independent experts, including those based in Geneva and New York.

There was broad agreement among participants that Resolution 2664 is a milestone achievement representing a fundamental policy shift within the Security Council. However, the resolution does not resolve all obstacles facing humanitarian actors seeking to provide aid in contexts where sanctions from the UN and autonomous regimes, as well as counterterrorism measures, apply. Participants thus provided the following recommendations on how to continue to safeguard principled humanitarian action:

  • Member states should incorporate the obligations of Resolution 2664 into national and regional frameworks;
  • Member states should take steps to apply the humanitarian exemption to autonomous sanctions regimes and counterterrorism measures;
  • Donors should streamline reporting requirements for humanitarian actors;
  • UN entities, humanitarian actors, and member states should invest in greater guidance and capacity building on the implementation of Resolution 2664; and
  • UN entities, international and local humanitarian actors, member states, and the private sector should continue to engage in inclusive, multi-stakeholder dialogue at the national and global levels on the implementation of Resolution 2664 and risk-mitigation measures.


Prioritizing and Sequencing Security Council Mandates in 2023: The Case of MONUSCO

Mon, 11/12/2023 - 18:28

The UN Security Council is expected to renew MONUSCO’s mandate on December 20, 2023. The upcoming negotiations will unfold against the backdrop of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) request to the Security Council on September 1, 2023, for the mission’s accelerated withdrawal to commence at the end of 2023; the government and the mission’s signing in November of a disengagement plan to implement this accelerated withdrawal; and the general elections, slated for December 20, 2023. The past two months have also seen renewed fighting between the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC), the M23 rebel group, and other armed groups. The Nairobi and Luanda peace processes were disrupted by the resumption of hostilities and heightened tension between the DRC and Rwanda. The security and humanitarian conditions continue to worsen in the eastern provinces of the DRC, with persistent threats to human rights and the protection of civilians.

In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), Security Council Report, and the Stimson Center cohosted a roundtable discussion on November 21, 2023, to reflect on MONUSCO’s mandate renewal. This roundtable offered a platform for member states, UN officials, civil society stakeholders, and independent experts to share their assessments of the situation in the DRC in a frank and collaborative manner. The discussion was intended to help the Security Council make more informed decisions with respect to the prioritization and sequencing of MONUSCO’s mandate, as well as the mission’s strategic orientation and actions on the ground as it prepares for a drawdown.

Given the context of MONUSCO’s transition and withdrawal in the coming months, the mission will likely need to balance the following issues:

  • Prioritizing the protection of civilians and safeguarding humanitarian access to prevent the widening of protection gaps during the mission’s drawdown;
  • Enhancing engagement with local communities and civil society organizations to execute the withdrawal plan in line with specific needs in regions within and outside eastern DRC;
  • Improving coordination between the UN and regional partners that are present in eastern DRC through regular communication, information sharing, and joint planning;
  • Providing a clearer definition of and political guidance on security sector reform to ensure the appropriate and timely transition of security responsibilities to national actors;
  • Reinforcing support to the Congolese government on the implementation of its Demobilization, Disarmament, Community Recovery and Stabilization Program (P-DDRCS); and
  • Supporting the revitalization of the Luanda and Nairobi processes following the December 2023 presidential election.

IPI MENA and Top Diplomats Call on the International Community to Reinforce Multilateral System Towards Lasting Peace in Mideast

Thu, 30/11/2023 - 21:40

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Top diplomats, regional experts, academics, private sector actors and media representatives called on governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders to assert the role of the multilateral system and work towards a reformed and fit-for-purpose application of its principles to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace in the MENA region.

On November 30th, IPI MENA hosted a webinar on “The Deepening Crisis in the Middle East and the Role of the Multilateral System.”

Opening the webinar, IPI MENA Senior Director Nejib Friji referenced the many crises plaguing the region, from Libya, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, to Palestine. He emphasized that these situations have one important thing in common: human suffering on a massive scale costing current generations decades of development delays.

He reminded the audience that the multilateral system emerged from a desire to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, but past decades have dealt major blows to people’s confidence. Multiple internationally-led conflicts have continued with no blessing or intervention by the Security Council.

“In the face of continuing conflicts and suffering, some instinctually reject the multilateral system. But we at IPI MENA believe there is a critical need for the vision it offers of the world – maybe more than ever.”

H.E Taïeb Baccouche, Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Former Minister of Education for the Republic of Tunisia, referred to the Israel-Palestine conflict, focusing on the way out of the current crisis. He said that the situation is defined by grave injustice, highlighting the continual encroachment on Palestinian territory by Israeli settlers.

He reflected on changing attitudes and approaches to the crisis amongst Arab leaders, outlining how they strongly rejected the 1947 partition plan and later accepted peaceful initiatives including the 1991 Madrid Conference and the Oslo Accords.

In terms of solutions, Mr. Taïeb Baccouche suggested a return to the starting point, disregarding all illegally gained territory. He offered two models: either two states or one multiconfessional state. He emphasized that the UN must play a key role in helping both parties move towards a peaceful resolution.

Referring to the situation in his country, Libya, H.E Mohamad Dayri, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs for the State of Libya said: “The outcome of the regime change in 2011 led to serious concerns for Libya, its neighboring countries, and beyond in Africa and Europe.” He noted that the situation has been marred by civil wars and security dysfunctions, allowing terror groups to take sanctuary in Libya. The threat of these groups has since diminished. Nonetheless, Libyans were subjected to multiple unlawful acts at the hands of local militias, including killings, kidnappings, and torture.

Mr. Dayri enumerated the internal and external factors that led to the current state of Libya. Poor governance and the plundering of public funds worsened living conditions for Libyans. In addition, the influence of foreign stakeholders and their conflicting priorities have compounded the complex landscape in the country. He emphasized that, despite an extended finger-pointing exercise, all parties have contributed to the current situation.

Moving to the role of the international community, Mr. Dayri highlighted that, despite the multifaceted nature of the situation, mediation efforts led by the UN have exclusively resulted in power-sharing packages, ignoring other substantial components and priorities for the people of Libya. He concluded with his recommendations, including a national reconciliation process facilitated by the UN.

H.E. Mr. Luis Amado, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Former Minister of Defence for the Portuguese Republic pointed to the wider implications of geopolitical crises in the MENA region and beyond. He outlined the core challenge at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict: how can we address an old, crystallized conflict in a new geopolitical context, with changed regional dynamics and forces?

Taking a step back, he referred to the “dynamic of confrontation” between the great powers – the US, Russia, and China – that shapes and imposes global crises. This dynamic imposes on all the power structures of the world, creating circumstances that expose the weaknesses of all multilateral institutions, e.g., repeated impasses between veto powers in the Security Council.

Mr. Amado emphasized the importance of envisioning a role for the multilateral system, sketching out a long scenario of confrontation between the great powers given the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, and a looming cold war. Speaking more optimistically, he suggested a post-Western, multi-polar world emerging.

He concluded by affirming that the Israel-Palestine crisis must be faced on a UN legal basis. “We need to go back to the law. We have no alternative in political terms.” However, he implied that returning to past decisions is easier said than done, especially when it concerns removing 800,000 new settlers – is it possible to go back and undo the negligence of the international community over the past?

In answer to Mr. Friji’s question about the connections between the Libya crisis and the freezing process of the Arab Maghreb Union, Mr. Dayri referred to adverse effects on Tunisia, Algeria, Chad, Niger, and Sudan, stating that the disintegration of Libya has negatively impacted the integration of the Maghreb countries.

Mr. Naman, a reporter from the Gulf Daily News asked about how certain Middle Eastern countries’ economic ties to Israel affect their response to the crisis and whether an energy shift could lead to a geopolitical shift in the region.

Mr. Luis Amado responded, pointing to the experience in Europe where only economic integration could solve repeated clashes between France, the UK, and Germany. He said a similar integration could be a path forward for the Middle East. However, he stressed that regional economic integration requires parallel political stability, and this dynamic must be balanced to make a difference.

Ms. Desiree Custers, Project Manager at the Centre for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO), reflected on what channels could be opened to increase communication or capacity for dialogue, especially given a discrepancy in values and ideas for the future.

Anuja Jaiswal, IPI MENA Intern, unpacked an emerging strand in the discussion. She argued that given the various time scales at play, solutions rooted in transitional justice should be placed alongside those rooted in conflict resolution.

The Global Stocktake at COP28: Ensuring a Successful Outcome

Tue, 21/11/2023 - 22:26

COP28 marks a pivotal point in the global response to the climate crisis, where countries will have the first opportunity to review and take stock of the Paris Agreement through the Global Stocktake (GST). This presents an opportunity to accelerate climate action and close the gaps needed to keep global warming below 1.5°C. To ensure a successful political outcome from the GST, the parties at COP28 could focus on the following:

  • Keep 1.5°C alive through commitments in nationally determined contributions: Governments, especially major emitters and future major emitters, need to commit to ambitious measures to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The GST outcome should provide specific guidance and actionable suggestions to countries as they prepare to submit their new or updated NDCs in 2025.
  • Phase out fossil-fuel production: Parties should agree to call for a sustained and widespread phase-out of fossil-fuel production, including the elimination of subsidies for domestic and foreign fossil-fuel extraction. The goal should be to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as close as possible to 2040 (for developed countries) and 2050 (for emerging economies). An ambitious GST outcome would also include individual and collective commitments to triple global capacity for renewable energy by 2030.
  • Price emissions: Parties should go beyond making pledges and develop mechanisms and frameworks that incentivize action. Carbon pricing is one such mechanism. A global carbon-pricing floor should differentiate between developed and developing countries, and the price should be set based on the markets rather than on a distinction between high and low emitters. Implementing a global carbon-pricing strategy could foster cooperation between developed and developing countries to safeguard the planet’s climate.
  • Improve the quality and quantity of climate finance: Getting countries out of debt, especially those vulnerable to climate impacts, should be a priority. Donor countries can also explore innovative strategies for utilizing the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights to provide grants instead of putting countries more in debt. Bridgetown 2.0 highlights a path toward reforming the global financial system to better serve developing countries through currency exchange guarantees, disaster clauses for debt deals, and reforms to multilateral development banks to increase lending.
  • Capitalize the Loss and Damage Fund: Now that countries have agreed to establish the Loss and Damage Fund, they should make pledges and pursue innovative finance, including taxes and levies on shipping, air travel, financial transactions, and fossil fuel extraction.


2023 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial

Thu, 16/11/2023 - 18:17
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The 2023 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial will be held in Accra, Ghana on December 5-6, making it the first peacekeeping ministerial on the continent of Africa. Ahead of the ministerial, IPI, together with the Republic of Ghana, hosted a policy forum on November 16 to bring together member states and UN officials. The event supported the objective of the fifth UN Peacekeeping Ministerial to strengthen the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations and their impact on the communities they serve. Member states were able to convene outside of the official ministerial meetings and offer key takeaways and opportunities to galvanize member state pledges gathered from the preparatory conferences held in anticipation of the ministerial.

This year’s preparatory conferences represented priority thematic areas for the ministerial. These include the protection of civilians, strategic communications (including addressing mis- and disinformation and hate speech), safety and security, the mental health of peacekeepers, and women in peacekeeping.

Jenna Russo, Director of Research and Head of the Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations at IPI, considered these thematic areas in her remarks against the backdrop of an increasingly complex and evolving geopolitical landscape. Noting the mounting challenges that peacekeeping missions face today—namely, protracted conflict, climate change, pandemic, transnational organized crime, and the misuse of emerging technologies—she emphasized, “Effective response requires all of our collective efforts working together for the sake of peace.”

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations of the UN delivered opening remarks. As he looked to the upcoming forum, he highlighted this unique opportunity to revitalize and enhance peace missions in a changing landscape of peacekeeping and security operations.

Harold Adlai Agyeman, as the Permanent Representative of Ghana to the UN, focused his remarks on the expectations that this year’s host holds for the upcoming ministerial. “The aim is to achieve concrete outcomes to improve peacekeeping.” He highlighted member state pledges as the most important element to ensure that peacekeeping remains relevant and responsive.

Other panelists briefed the audience on the individual preparatory conferences for the ministerial. Showeb Abdullah, Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh provided an overview of the UN Preparatory Conference on Women in Peacekeeping Operations, co-hosted by Bangladesh, Canada, and Uruguay in Dhaka, earlier this year. He identified as a priority for any consideration of women in peacekeeping the role of peacekeeping partnerships, enhancing accountability, and deploying gender-responsive capabilities.

Adarsh Tiwathia, Principal Medical Officer and Deputy Director, DHMOSH/DOS of the UN, delivered takeaways from the Preparatory Conference on mental health support for uniformed personnel. Detailing how little support is available in peacekeeping contexts for mental health services, she identified telemedicine, technological integration, and a focus on pre-deployment and post-deployment services for personnel members as potential ameliorative measures.

Usman Jadoon, Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN spoke about the discussions on ways to improve safety and prevent fatalities of peacekeeping personnel held at the Preparatory Conference on Safety and Security, co-hosted by Japan and Pakistan in Islamabad.

Ed Caelen, Military Advisor of the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN provided a summary of the Preparatory Conference on Protection of Civilians and Strategic Communications, co-hosted by Indonesia, Netherlands, Rwanda, and the UK in Kigali.

Opening remarks:
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations

H.E. Harold Adlai Agyeman, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the UN
Md. Showeb Abdullah, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the UN
Adarsh Tiwathia, UN Principal Medical Officer and Deputy Director, DHMOSH/DOS
H.E. Muhammad Usman Iqbal Jadoon, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN
Ed Caelen, Military Advisor, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN

Jenna Russo, Director of Research and Head of the Brian Urquhart Center for Peace Operations, International Peace Institute

Lessons from the Climate Ambition Summit: The Road to COP28

Thu, 09/11/2023 - 21:09
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IPI hosted a policy forum on November 9th, entitled “Lessons from the Climate Ambition Summit: The Road to COP28” to discuss the outcomes from the Climate Ambition Summit held earlier this year and the lessons to carry into COP28.

The Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Just Transition, Selwin Charles Hart, sat down with IPI’s President, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, to provide an updated look at the climate crisis in the current volatile geopolitical context. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein opened the conversation with the question at the center of the climate emergency upon us: “We are weeks away from COP28 and the challenge has never been greater, are our goals still within reach?”

Selwin Hart’s answer focused on both the urgent challenges we face—namely, geopolitical division, a growing trust deficit between developed and developing countries, an ever-narrowing window of opportunity to avert the climate crisis—and the newly available avenues that provide some hope for the future. “We’ve never had this level of clarity on what needs to be done, by whom, and on what timeframe. The solutions to the climate crisis have never been cheaper or more accessible.”

The discussion highlighted one of the core areas for which the Peace‚ Climate‚ and Sustainable Development team at IPI has been able to provide crucial support, the Loss and Damage Fund. The Special Adviser to the Secretary-General detailed what will be needed for the fund in the future: “We need to remain vigilant to ensure that the fund works, that it is well resourced, that innovative sources are explored, & that this fund truly benefits people & communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis.”

Looking ahead, the speakers articulated the need for clear commitment, transparency, and concrete proposals of support from COP28 attendees.

In the lead-up to COP28, the event provided an important forum to discuss the fractured geopolitical environment, the ability of the multilateral system to deliver strong results against a ticking clock, and the possibility of long-term solutions.

Refining the Global Goal on Adaptation ahead of COP28

Mon, 06/11/2023 - 20:06

As the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) approaches, it is increasingly crucial to understand and develop clear actions for not only mitigation but also adaptation. While mitigation has the clear numerical target of limiting warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, adaptation is a complex concept that cannot be captured in a single figure. Ahead of COP28, there is a need for conceptual clarity as to what exactly the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) aims to achieve and how it can be globally applicable when adaptation is so often locally implemented.

One way to clarify the GGA is to adopt well-being as the ultimate outcome toward which countries should be working. Well-being is a state where one can pursue one’s goals and thrive. This requires having adequate physical health, water, food, and a healthy environment, even as the impacts of climate change worsen. Adaptation actions that further this goal should be assessed by their effects on present and future human and environmental well-being. Whenever possible, these actions should be both transboundary, reaching across national borders and administrative or jurisdictional boundaries, and transformational, addressing the systemic root causes of climate impacts and working toward a more stable, flexible, and equitable future.

This policy paper lays out the various climate risks that affect each of the four pillars of the GGA: human health, water security, food security, and biodiversity. It then details adaptation actions that can be taken in response to these risks, as well as indicators for improvement. While each step of the adaptation policy cycle should be robust and well-funded, these four pillars are the areas where progress is most crucial to achieving the GGA. When crafting a framework for transformational adaptation in these four areas, negotiators and technical experts can draw on existing, agreed-upon frameworks and indicators that point the world toward the goal of well-being for people and planet.


Building Trust, Building Peace: Israel-Palestine and the Importance of Moral Consistency

Mon, 30/10/2023 - 23:47

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On October 30th, IPI President Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein delivered the keynote address at the Opening Ceremony of the 10th annual Geneva Peace Week at the Maison de la Paix in Geneva, Switzerland. This year’s theme was “Building Trust, Building Peace: An Agenda for the Future.”

Speaking to the assembled delegates, President Al Hussein said, “If we are to build trust and peace, we need to be as morally consistent as we can…Building trust and building peace can only be achieved if states hold themselves — and expect others do the same — to one set of rules applicable to all. It is that basic and elemental. And peacemaking must become a core part of what a new UN will look like, it has been lost and must now be recovered.”

Read full remarks here >>

The Role of Women’s Organizations in Combatting Gender-Based Violence in Conflict-Affected Contexts

Wed, 25/10/2023 - 22:36
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In collaboration with the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation and the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN, IPI convened a hybrid policy forum on the margins of the UN Security Council’s Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) on October 25th. The event, entitled “The Role of Women’s Organizations in Combatting Gender-Based Violence in Conflict-Affected Contexts,” provided a platform for advocates, activists, and researchers to come together and discuss the role of women’s organizations in addressing conflict-related gender-based violence (GBV).

The world is currently grappling with the highest number of conflicts since WWII, marked by pervasive conflict-related GBV and rampant impunity for perpetrators. Panelists underscored the vital role of women’s organizations in combatting GBV in conflict settings. However, they also highlighted the dire need for increased funding and substantive support to allow these organizations to conduct advocacy and programming to end conflict-related GBV.

The event began with opening remarks from the Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Relations of Colombia, Elizabeth Taylor Jay, who spoke about Colombia’s experiences with implementing the WPS agenda in Colombia where “women and feminist movements and organizations have been the main protagonists.” Next, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN, Andreas von Uexküll, spoke about the danger of conflict-related sexual violence being the “world’s least condemned crime of war” and the need for member states to loudly condemn these crimes and support every avenue for justice.

Kvinna til Kvinna Foundation launched a new report, titled “They came together not to be silenced—gender-based violence in conflict & the role of women’s rights organizations” at the event. The report sheds light on the work of women’s organizations in four conflict-affected countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, and Ukraine.

Jessica Poh-Janrell, Advocacy Advisor of Kvinna till Kvinna, presented the report’s findings, identifying six themes of convergence among the four regions. She reported: “States have been unprepared, unable and, in some cases, unwilling to provide victims and survivors with sufficient support and hold perpetrators to account.” Women’s rights organizations have played an essential role in filling these critical gaps in services, yet they remain severely underfunded.

Panelists from several regions offered their perspectives on the context-specific challenges women’s organizations confront today and their implications for the international community’s response to GBV.

Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović, Senior Legal Adviser at Trial International in Bosnia and Herzegovina, spoke about how the war is still “omnipresent” in the hearts and minds of the victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a key part of the path to peace is establishing truth and providing justice for victims.

Oksana Potapova, Researcher and Women’s Rights Activist in Ukraine, drew attention to the continuum of violence that women endure and emphasized that GBV can serve as an early warning sign for conflict.

Solange Lwashiga, Executive Secretary Caucus des Femmes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, spoke about the need to speak up to support change and the strategy of women’s organizations to break the silence around GBV in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Letitia Anderson, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, grounded the discussion in the historical legacy of GBV within contexts of war. She articulated that sexual violence in conflict is a political issue and that it creates an undue burden on civil society to respond to these realities on the ground without political support.

All speakers made clear that gender equality and peace are inextricably linked and that gender-based violence is a political issue with a political economy.

Opening Remarks:
Elizabeth Taylor Jay, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Relations, Colombia
Andreas von Uexküll, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN

Jessica Poh-Janrell, Advocacy Advisor, Kvinna til Kvinna
Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović, Senior Legal Adviser at Trial International, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Oksana Potapova, Researcher and Women’s Rights Activist, Ukraine
Solange Lwashiga, Executive Secretary Caucus des Femmes, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Letitia Anderson, Team Leader for Political Advocacy & Communications, UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict

Phoebe Donnelly, Senior Fellow and Head of Women, Peace, and Security, International Peace Institute

Understanding Masculinities to Dismantle Patriarchal Power Structures

Mon, 23/10/2023 - 21:10
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Ahead of the UN Security Council’s Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, IPI co-hosted a panel discussion on October 23rd with the New Lines Institute and Equimundo. The event entitled “Understanding Masculinities to Dismantle Patriarchal Power Structures” was organized in response to the Secretary General’s call to dismantle patriarchal power structures in his New Agenda for Peace policy brief. The panel featured representatives from member states, UN agencies, and civil society discussing patriarchal structures, masculinities, and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda.

Arlene B. Tickner, Deputy Permanent Representative of Colombia to the UN, opened the discussion by advocating for a shared definition of patriarchy and masculinity because we can’t dismantle something we do not understand. She described patriarchy as “a political-social system rooted in socially defined gender roles that operates to create both oppression and privilege.” Ambassador Tickner went on to explain that patriarchy insists that certain men, particularly those who are heteronormative and white, are naturally superior to those perceived as weak, in particular females (including trans women). This system grants them the inherent right to dominate and rule through distinct forms of power and violence.

Kat Fotovat, Principal Deputy Director of the Office of Global Women’s Issues for the U.S. Department of State, emphasized the importance of engaging men and boys in the promotion of the rights of women and girls through US foreign policy. She recognized the pervasiveness of patriarchal structures, describing patriarchy as “vast and insidious, replicated and made invisible by the nature of having existed for centuries.” She called for institutionalized policies and programming that recognize how gender-based violence and gender inequality are fundamentally rooted in unequal power structures that prioritize men.

Gary Barker, President of Equimundo, identified men’s increasing economic marginalization as a key driver of the global regression in gender equality. Economic vulnerabilities, he explained, breed resistance from men, allowing far-right groups to instrumentalize these feelings of loss in their messaging against gender equality.

Sarah Douglas, Deputy Chief of the Peace and Security section at UN Women, noted that global military budgets have exceeded previous records for the 8th consecutive year, reaching a level of $2.2 trillion. At the same time, funding for women’s organizations in conflict zones has decreased from 0.5% to 0.3% of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in fragile settings. She noted that male-dominated approaches to peace and security, which prioritize militarized responses, have contributed to the current conflict-ridden state of the world.

Emily Prey, Director of the WPS Portfolio at the New Lines Institute, emphasized the role of research in advancing the effectiveness of policy and conflict prevention programs. She noted that decades of research show that patriarchy is a net negative for society, which is why it is vital to educate men and boys to gain their support for dismantling the structures that ultimately harm all of society in the long term.

Dean Peacock, Director of the Mobilizing Men for Feminist Peace Initiative of WILPF, redirected attention to the legacies of colonialism and land dispossession in the Global South as a fundamental challenge to building a far-reaching movement that attracts both men and women to advocate for gender equality. He stressed the importance of contextualization to address structural factors that contribute to gendered harms in conflict settings.

Speakers offered innovative strategies for advocating, mobilizing political will, promoting education, developing programming, securing funding, and conducting research, related to masculinities and gender equality, all of which will be necessary to dismantle patriarchal systems.

Welcoming Remarks:
Adam Lupel, Vice President and COO, International Peace Institute

H.E. Arlene B. Tickner, Deputy Permanent Representative of Colombia to the UN
Kat Fotovat, Principal Deputy Director, Office of Global Women’s Issues, US Department of State
Gary Barker, President and CEO, Equimundo: Center for Masculinities and Social Justice
Sarah Douglas, Deputy Chief of UN Women
Emily Prey, Director of the Gender Policy Portfolio at New Lines Institute
Dean Peacock, Director of the Mobilizing Men for Feminist Peace Initiative, WILPF

Phoebe Donnelly, Senior Fellow and Head of the Women, Peace, and Security Program, International Peace Institute

IPI MENA and Key Players Call on the International Community to Ensure Accountability for Abuses against Migrants

Mon, 23/10/2023 - 06:00

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Government officials, diplomats, private sector representatives, human rights institutions and key players gathered on October 24th to call upon international organizations, NGOs, global law organizations, and other stakeholders to work together to create resilient communities that work in tandem with security dimensions of executive and judicial organizations to end the intolerable human rights violations suffered by irregular migrants.

Opening the webinar on “Irregular Migration in the MENA Region,” IPI MENA Senior Director Nejib Friji highlighted the importance of terminology: “It is vital that we avoid the term illegal migration as most irregular migrants are not criminals.” He quoted the distinction drawn by the UN, European Union, and Council of Europe, stating that “illegal” is used to refer to the status of a process, and “irregular” when referring to a person.

Highlighting the plight of irregular migrants, Mr. Friji pointed out that irregular border crossing creates a category of people “unknown to the state,” rendering them especially vulnerable. They are removed from the protection of the law and fall into the informal economy, where exploitative practices can – and, unfortunately, do – take place.

“Each and every act of exploitation must be documented with the purpose of bringing those perpetrators…to justice,” he emphasized.

IPI MENA Intern Anuja Jaiswal pointed to frequent headlines reporting on capsized migrant boats on their way to Europe, emphasizing that this is only one tragic part of the story. She proposed a more holistic, human rights-based approach to migration that examines the treatment of migrants in countries of origin, transit, and destination.

“We must highlight the legal tools available to advocate for migrants,” she stated, explaining the legal distinction between human trafficking and migrant smuggling. “We hope that by evaluating the legal tools available, we can build an understanding of how to apply them to complex realities.”

She underlined the consequences of cross-border partnerships on irregular migration, pointing to recent reports which reveal that such agreements can result in widespread human rights violations. “A solely preventative approach to irregular migration makes migrants more vulnerable to human rights abuses and overlooks their frequent victimization in trafficking and smuggling networks…Ultimately, everyone responsible for abuses against migrants must be held accountable.”

Moussa Mara, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Mali emphasized the importance of understanding two main truths when dealing with irregular migration on a global scale: Firstly, migration represents a point of concern for countries of destination. Secondly, migration functions as an obligation, rather than choice for people in countries of origin. “Nobody will leave his own town with happiness…they will go out only to try to live.”

Regarding Mali, Mr. Mara stated that the combination of significant land loss due to climate change and rapid population growth creates a “scissor effect” on local economy, driving greater migration. He pointed out that the situation will not change soon, stressing the importance of international cooperation and convening around this issue: “It is a global concern that needs a global solution.”

In closing, he emphasized the importance of accountability: “We need to use all means against traffickers, smugglers, and the mafia…all the people who are drinking the blood of the migrants.”

Zoi Sakelliadou, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer on Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling at UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) spoke about the international legal framework against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, and the challenges in its implementation. “The current global environment is one of turmoil,” she stressed. Several factors, such as armed conflict, environmental disaster, climate change, and poverty, force migrants to leave their homes and many turn to smugglers in the absence of alternatives. Citing a UNODC study, Mrs. Sakelliadou revealed that smuggled migrants are often subjected to extreme violence, torture, and rape.

“Migration is no crime – but smuggling of migrants is,” she clarified, emphasizing the importance of treating migrants humanely with the full respect of human rights. “There is an imperative need to talk to the migrants and listen to them…migrants that have suffered in the hands of smugglers are entitled to assistance.”

Mrs. Sakelliadou also highlighted the widespread nature of migrant smuggling: “There is no country in the world that is immune to this crime.” Referencing UNODC data, she stated that unfortunately, the level of convictions for migrant smuggling and human trafficking is still very low and “we need to bring those responsible to justice.”

Abdelbasset Hassen began by acknowledging that there are many ideas, programs, and strategies implemented by various civil society organizations and migrant and refugee communities. He stated that the MENA region is suffering from a lack of policies and shared vision on the issue of irregular migration.

He pointed to the narrow security-based lens applied to issues of migration and refugees, suggesting that it indicates a perspective grounded in fear. Looking forward to the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he quoted the objective to “free people from fear and want,” emphasizing the need for a different approach.

“We need to move to a rights-based vision that will take into consideration the deep causes and roots of this issue,” he stated, referring to economic, social, and political problems driving migration around the world. “We need to invest in this holistic and rights-based approach, which is not at all in contradiction with security issues.”

In closing, he proposed, “it is time we make human rights the way to address these issues.”

During the open floor debate session, Anna J. Louis, ambassador of the Philippines, raised the fluidity of categories in this issue, pointing out that one can begin as a regular migrant but become irregular through the course of events. She emphasized the importance of grassroots-level participation, describing the prevalence of local government units in the Philippines.

Mr. Mara stated that there is a lack of political will within some countries of origin because migration is seen as a “solution,” reducing the pressure of people on leadership. “We need to face this reality. Migration is not a solution…migration means death for our youth. We need to tell the truth inside our countries.”

Abdulnabi Alekry, correspondent at the Delmon Post, spoke about the issue of “forced emigration” in the context of forced displacement, referring to the Palestinian and Rohingya communities. He asked about the responsibility of the UN and other stakeholders in addressing this issue.

In response, Mr. Hassen reminded the audience that human rights is one of the foundational values of the UN system, and any political solutions must be based on a recognition of the rights of people.