In commemoration of the United Nation’s 70th anniversary on 24 October, 300 sites in 60 countries light up in the organization’s official color of blue as a reaffirmation of their commitment to work toward a better and brighter future for all. Starting in New Zealand, the wave of blue will move across countries and continents to commemorate UN Day.
"The United Nations works for the entire human family of seven billion people, and cares for the earth, our one and only home. In many respects, the world is shifting beneath our feet. Yet the Charter remains a firm foundation for shared progress,” says Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
But in the blitz of it all, Ban who just returned from crisis-torn Middle East not only gave recounts of his arduous and comprehensive discussions with the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders in a meeting with the press earlier today, but also laid out his main concerns. Explaining how profoundly troubled he was by what he saw and the heart-breaking stories he heard, he told of the feeling of obligation to offer condolences to the families of those who were either hurt or killed. “One killing or house demolition creates a whole family of angry people. One neighbourhood closure creates a community of despair. One funeral can spread rage among thousands. Force should be a last resort, not a first resort,” he said.
Ban emphasized that during the meetings all participants agreed that the level of incitement is absolutely unacceptable and that they saw the need an urgent need to reduce tensions in order to avoid actions that would further fuel the violence. Ban, who extended encouragements during the peace talks, said he welcomes assurances from Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that the country has no intention of changing the status quo on the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount and also restated how imperative it is for Israel to exercise maximum restraint in making sure that security measures are properly calibrated in order not to breed frustrations and anxieties which perpetuate violence.
Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, was also urged to steer the energy and passion of the people, but mostly the youth, towards a peaceful direction so that they will be able to realize their hope of peace and stability, rather than resorting to violent means. Ban also expressed appreciation of the efforts of H.M. King Abdullah of Jordan in playing the fundamental role as Custodian between both sides. “I strongly condemn all acts of terror and violence as there is still time to step back from brink,” Ban added.
Immediately after leaving the press meeting, Ban spoke at the International Peace Institute policy forum titled The Future of Global Governance: A Commitment to Action which focused on three major policy reviews: peace operations, peacebuilding architecture, and on Security Council Resolution 1325.
Ban thanked IPI for having organized the timely discussion by saying that the 70th anniversary milestone has coincided with a number of important reviews that will help shape the future of global governance, especially since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He said the efforts represent a roadmap towards a more peaceful and sustainable future for succeeding generations, supported by a multilateral architecture that is fit for purpose. However, Ban remarked that each one share a sense that global governance is not keeping pace with the challenges of a more complex and interconnected world.
“A common narrative is emerging – one that recognizes that failure to more effectively prevent and address interconnected problems such as conflict or inequality or climate stress will have severe and costly consequences across all dimensions of our work. The various reviews and initiatives recognize we cannot continue to address problems in separate, unrelated silos,” Ban said as he then pinpointed four common themes within the various reviews:
– First, the need to place greater focus on prevention and resilience The root causes of vulnerability, conflict and disaster must be addressed. Do more to anticipate crises and act to strengthen people’s ability to cope, adapt and recover from complex shocks, as the main drivers of conflict are weak institutions, inequality and human rights abuses.
– Second, the major area of convergence is the need to strengthen partnerships as no organization or country can single-handedly master any effort. Recognizing that implementing ambitious goals can neither be done by the UN system, nor by Member States alone will be a step forward.
– Third, the importance of getting the financing right. Achieving the SDGs will require major investments, therefore hard work is being done to ensure $100 billion a year by 2020 for climate change mitigation and adaptation. In the meantime, humanitarian appeals are at record levels and there are more peacekeepers than ever deployed around the world. Yet, security measures alone will not end the violence.
– Fourth, and fundamentally, the critical need for greater female participation. Excluding women from employment opportunities hinders sustainable development and economic growth, and excluding them from peace processes hinders peace. Excluding girls from schools also holds societies back. It is necessary to have an all-of-society-approach that fully and equally incorporates the contributions of women in every aspect as gender mainstreaming and the role of women is central to success.
“We need to find the linkages among the reviews, and in our work together" Ban said in his closing remarks. "This way the recommendations will add up to more than the sum of their parts. Our shared goal is to ensure that the United Nations and its partners are “fit for purpose” to deliver on ambitious commitments".