Puberty Education and Menstrual Hygiene Management: An Education Sector Responsibility

Puberty is a time of change for all young people, but it is particularly challenging for girls who are often unprepared for changes in their body, which can become a major obstacle to their education. In some parts of the world, two out of three girls reported having no idea of what was happening to them when they began menstruating.

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UNICEF: Justice still out of reach for millions of children

GENEVA, 13 March 2014 — Millions of children across the globe have their rights violated, but only a few are able to seek recourse to improve their situation in a timely, fair and effective way, UNICEF said today.

Violations include children being denied their right to quality health care and education and their right to protection from abuse, violence and exploitation – sometimes perpetrated by those closest to them.   Without access to justice, children cannot take their rightful place in society.

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From the Ashes of War, Seeds of Peace Ban Ki-moon

What was once the biggest United Nations peacekeeping operation in the world winds down this month, and the most extraordinary part of this historic development is that international troops are not the only ones departing the country – nationals from the once war-ravaged nation are donning blue helmets as they deploy to serve with the UN in other troubled parts of the world.

 Sierra Leone used to be synonymous with brutality. The savage, decade-long war there was marked by appalling atrocities against civilians. Continue reading

Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Burundi

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about recent developments in Burundi, in particular the violent confrontations between the police and members of opposition parties last week.  Both the government and political parties must exercise restraint and refrain from any actions that could exacerbate tensions.
 
The Secretary-General deplores the growing restrictions on the freedom of expression, association and assembly, especially the prohibition and disruption of opposition meetings by the police and the youth wing of the ruling party.  Respecting these freedoms and other human rights is a precondition for free and fair elections in 2015 Burundi cannot afford to miss this opportunity to consolidate its democratic gains. 

The Secretary-General encourages the Burundian authorities, political leaders and civil society representatives to work together to de-escalate tension.  The United Nations is ready to provide its good offices in this regard.

The Secretary-General reiterates his call for the Government of Burundi and political parties to launch a campaign against political violence ahead of the elections and resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue, in line with the political road map adopted in March last year and the consensus enshrined in the Arusha Accords.

New York, 13 March 2014

Syrian Crisis United Nations Response-No 34/ 12 March 2014

A Weekly Update from the UN Department of Public Information                    

 
Secretary-General: Bring the tragedy in Syria to an end

In a statement issued on 12 March, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, says that “three years ago, the Syrian people stood up in peaceful protest to demand their universal rights and freedoms. In response came brutal force, escalating bloodshed and the devastation of civil war”.  “As the conflict now enters its fourth year”, he appeals to all to reflect upon the long and growing list of horrors taking place in Syria every day. The Secretary-General strongly urges the Syrian Government and opposition to exercise responsibility, leadership, vision and flexibility to rise to the challenge. Working with Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, the Syrian sides and regional and international actors must act now to bring the tragedy in Syria to an end.

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THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL — MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ZERO TOLERANCE FOR FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION “Preserve the Best in Culture and Leave Harm Behind”

06 February 2014: As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I hold high the banner of empowering women and girls, promoting their health and defending their rights. The International Day of Zero-Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is an opportunity to confront this persistent problem – and to find hope in initiatives proving that it can end.

We should strive to preserve the best in any culture, and leave harm behind.

There is no developmental, religious or health reason to cut or mutilate any girl or woman. Although some would argue that this is a ‘tradition,’ we must recall that slavery, so called honour killings and other inhumane practices have been defended with the same weak argument. Just because a harmful practice has long existed does not justify its continuation. All ‘traditions’ that demean, dehumanize and injure are human rights violations that must be actively opposed until they are ended.

FGM causes grave harm to individuals. The immediate and long-term health consequences include constant pain, infections, incontinence and sometimes deadly complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

The practice is declining in almost all countries but it is still frighteningly widespread. Although firm statistics are difficult to obtain, it is estimated that more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where FGM is most prevalent and data exist. If current trends continue, some 86 million young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030. Asia, Europe, North America and other regions are not spared and must be equally vigilant in addressing the problem.

Fortunately there are positive signs of progress in our global push to end this harmful practice.

Girls themselves instinctively understand the dangers of being cut, and many mothers who have seen or experienced the trauma want to shield their daughters from suffering. It is encouraging that an increasing number of communities are coming together and agreeing publically to end FGM and ensure a better life for their girls.

Recently, Uganda, Kenya and Guinea-Bissau adopted laws to end FGM. In Ethiopia, those responsible have been arrested, tried and penalized, with full media coverage further raising public awareness.

The United Nations and our partners are engaged in valuable, culturally sensitive activities that aim to stop FGM without scolding or shame.

In Sudan, we are seeing social change from a campaign called “Saleema,” the Arabic word that implies complete, intact, whole and untouched. One father moved by the effort who decided to leave his daughters uncut explained simply, “A girl is born Saleema, so leave her Saleema.” Hundreds of communities have embraced this initiative, expressing their support through songs, poetry and clothes in the campaign’s trademark bright colours. Other countries are emulating Saleema or coming up with solutions tailored to their local needs, such as Kenya, where Meru community elders have prohibited FGM and vow to impose a fine on anyone who conducts or abets the practice

In addition to prevention, the United Nations is working with partners to help those who have been affected by FGM. Pioneering medical advances now allow doctors to repair women’s bodies and restore their health. I recall the words of one physician working in Burkina Faso who described “the relief that overwhelms women” following the surgery, which she said is 100 per cent effective. The many women who lack the resources needed to travel to the right facilities and the programmes that offer proper treatment deserve generous support.

The General Assembly’s landmark resolution proclaiming this commemorative Day was sponsored by every country in Africa and embraced by the entire membership of the United Nations. This breakthrough shows the great value of the United Nations in rising as one to defend universal human rights. Now our challenge is to give real meaning to this Day by using it to generate public support, trigger legal and practical advances, and help girls and women at risk of or affected by FGM.

The effect on individuals will be profound, sparing them pain and spurring their success. The benefits will reverberate across society as these girls and women thrive and contribute to a better future for all.

No woman or girl should suffer due to Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting

Dar es Salaam, 6 February 2014 – As the world marks the International Day for Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) today,6th February, UNFPA Tanzania Representative a.i, Ms. Mariam Khan has called on government and communities to step up efforts to stop the practice.
“FGM/C is a harmful traditional practice that results too often in significant health problems for women and girls and violates their human rights, said Ms. Khan. “FGM/C is deeply entrenched in the cultural practices of the community and often protected by local leaders, the efforts for its eradication should be directed on and led by the communities to effect change.” Emphasized Ms. Khan.
Millions of girls around the world are under threat of FGM/C, despite a century of efforts to put an end to it. In the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated, more than 125 million girls and women have been cut. UNFPA projects that a further 86 million young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030, if current trends continue. FGM/C is illegal in Tanzania, yet is since 1998 prevalence is stable at 15%. Research shows that women who have been cut are up to 31% more likely to require a caesarean section in delivery, and babies born to women who have been cut are up to 55% more likely to be stillborn.
UNFPA in the context of delivering as One with partners in Tanzania is working to eliminate FGM/C interventions include:- to educate communities through media and community meetings, raising awareness of the health repercussions for the girls and of the human rights violations resulting in lost potential. The organization engages duty bears, decision makers, and community members, including religious leaders, to change attitudes and identify alternative rites of passage.
Ending the practice depends on how the global and local communities respond. UNFPA and UNICEF are jointly implementing a programme to accelerate the abandonment of FGM/C. Every young girl, regardless of where she lives, or her economic circumstances, has the right to fulfil her human potential, free from coercion, harm or violence. We can ensure that she does, and we must. The sustainable, equitable, inclusive future we all want depends on the actions we take today to ensure the dignity, health and well-being of every girl.
FGM/C is being practiced variably in Tanzania and it is mostly predominant in Manyara 71%, Dodoma 64%, Arusha 57%, Singida 51% and Mara 40%. “Nothing justifies the continued practice of FGM/C it is an obstacle to attainment of the health, development and human rights goal not only for girls and women but also for all members of society; In the 21st century, no woman or girl should suffer or die due to FGM/C. Addressing the persistent inequalities that negatively affect women’s and girl’s health and well-being is our unfinished business,” concludes UNFPA Representative a.i Mariam Khan.
About UNFPA
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.
For more information, please contact: Sawiche Wamunza, Communications Analyst, +255 684 919 729,wamunza@unfpa.org

“War, Its Lessons, and the Search for a Permanent Peace: View from the UN Department of Political Affairs” by Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs

29 January 2014, NEW YORK: Thank you for inviting me to represent the Secretary-General today in addressing the Council on “War, Its Lessons, and the Search for a Permanent Peace.” The relevance and timeliness of this debate are all too clear when we look to Syria, South Sudan or the Central African Republic at the moment.

The founders of the United Nations, in seeking to end “the scourge of war,” had in the forefront of their minds the searing experience of a global conflagration that pitted states against states. In more recent years, the UN has often been called upon to contribute to ending conflicts inside states rather than between states. Moreover, in a point relevant for today’s debate, even as conflicts between states lessen in number, conflicts inside states too often re-occur.

In both types of conflicts, distortions of history and identity can be contributing factors. War-time rhetoric cultivates division. Helping groups inside states move beyond such zero-sum thinking to accepting a shared national narrative is especially hard. The UN has a long history of helping to establish the means to resolve territorial disputes. But reconciling competing visions of history and identity is far less of a developed science.

While we hope to contribute to “permanent peace” when we act – be it as Members of the Security Council or the UN Secretariat – past crises have shown that the immediate imperatives tend to be so overpowering that what appear to be longer-term aspects often receive less attention, even though peacebuilding is now an indispensable part of our conflict management and prevention work.

In other words, while we have time-tested formulas for separating armies, tending to the needy, for enacting political roadmaps and rebuilding actual roads and ministries, we have reflected less on our ability to repair trust in societies and foster genuine reconciliation. How can we mend shattered social fabrics so that people look in their adversary’s eyes once again and see the human being rather than the enemy?

Mr. President,

In the time I have to explore this topic today, I will address two main questions: What are the essential elements of reconciliation? And how should the UN’s approach to crisis management be combined with the imperative of enabling societies to heal?

So, what are the essential elements of reconciliation?

When I refer to reconciliation, I have the following in mind: By accounting for and sharing views about the past, including prior to conflict, to restore mutual respect and trust between groups and individuals.

To make this a reality, I see a double responsibility: First, the responsibility of the international community to assist in creating conditions that, second, enable national actors to live up to their responsibility for rebuilding trust and respect, including reckoning with their own behavior and actions

Re-building trust and respect requires engaging with one another at all levels of society, not just at the level of political and economic elites. Leaders need to set the example, not just in ceasing war-time rhetoric and ending the intentional promotion of grievances, but also by deeds of genuine cooperation and honest examinations of their own roles in conflict.

Leaders also need to demonstrate that power-sharing and other forms of post-conflict governance do not signify that “the winner takes it all” but that room is available for engagement for all parts of society.

It is often being said that youth is the hope for overcoming past hatred. However, reality shows that youth brought up just after war tends to be more extreme than their parents. By often being deprived of the chance to meet “the other,” they are also deprived of the chance to experience what they have in common.

So, we need to find ways in our work in the aftermath of conflict to break the vicious cycle of divided communities when the hatred and sense of victimhood is most pronounced and palpable. Working with teachers and parents is as important as working with the young people themselves.

More broadly, education and curricula tend to be disseminators of contentious narratives. As difficult as it is, it appears critical to start early with the development of history curricula that – at the very least – share the different interpretations of recent events. This could form the beginning of developing a shared narrative and establishing points of convergence in people’s experiences and thinking.

Mr. President,

Let me now turn to my second question: How can the UN’s approach to crisis management be combined with the imperative of enabling societies to heal?

Over the past few months, this Council has, along with other business, expressed alarm about the catastrophic situation in the Central African Republic, the ongoing slaughter in Syria, and the outbreak of brutal hostilities in South Sudan. While outside forces play roles in each of these conflicts, the root causes, initial sparks, and momentum of these conflicts are essentially internal.

In all three cases, the physical end to war — while urgently needed — will not produce lasting peace and security. In all three countries, an end to the fighting will not permanently end the conflict. As we have seen repeatedly, fighting that ends without reconciliation — especially fighting inside states — is fighting that can, and often does, resume.

In the CAR, religious communities that peacefully co-existed for generations now view each other not as neighbors but as enemies. As difficult as ending the fighting is, rebuilding a shared sense of community and forging a common narrative about recent events will be even harder. But it is essential, if the CAR’s citizens will ever enjoy lasting peace and stability.

In South Sudan, a beautiful story of a country gaining hard-won independence has now turned into an ethnically-charged conflict with deaths, displacement, and calls for revenge. What united different groups during the fight for independence has evaporated. With a ceasefire signed, there is a glimmer of hope. But for it to take root and hold, we need to help the parties to trust one another again.

In Syria, the shared memory and pride in a secular, multi-confessional and multi-ethnic state have been shattered by nearly three years of unspeakable brutality and human rights atrocities. We have reported to the Council repeatedly that we do not believe that there is a military solution to this conflict, and the costs of trying to impose a military solution are obscenely high. Collectively, we must help the Syrians stop the killing. But then what? Clearing the physical rubble and physical reconstruction are not sufficient to erase the grievances and hatreds and instincts for vengeance that are undoubtedly multiplying in Syria with each passing day.

In all three cases, any cessations of hostilities remain fragile and at risk of collapse, without strenuous efforts exerted on behalf of reconciliation and without honest examination of each community of its own role in the conflict. There are many examples we could cite, but please allow me to use Iraq as a case in point. In recent years, Iraq has registered many successes, including holding a series of national elections under extremely difficult circumstances and re-establishing positive relations with Kuwait. We all applaud the Security Council’s recognition of Iraq’s progress, as noted by the Council’s resolutions. Yet at the same time, we have seen that Iraq’s communities have sharply differing historical and political narratives that inhibit the country’s ability to achieve common goals, including the urgent fight against terrorism. Getting more Iraqis to move past zero-sum thinking to forge a common Iraqi narrative is hard. But it is essential for Iraq’s long-term peace and stability.

The open wound of the Syria conflict makes Iraqi reconciliation even more complicated, given the deepening regional crisis between Sunnis and Shia. Healing the Sunni-Shia rift will become easier when fighting in Syria ends, as the horrors in Syria exacerbate that divide. But we should not neglect lending support to genuine reconciliation efforts, lest fighting resume from unaddressed grievances, overlapping claims of victimhood, and zero-sum narratives that are undoubtedly already taking root and in some cases being intentionally promoted.

Mr. President,

The UN role on monitoring cease-fires or separating warring parties is well known, represented today by almost 120,000 peacekeepers in fifteen places around the world. These peacekeeping operations, typically with robust protection of civilian mandates given by this Council, serve in some places to prevent state-to-state conflicts — UNIFIL in southern Lebanon is one example — and in other places serve inside a state, such as MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The UN has also played a significant role in reconstruction efforts in previously war-torn countries such as Sierra Leone or Mozambique.

These are important, physical manifestations of the UN’s work to help end conflict. But beyond the physical manifestations — peacekeepers, monitors, reconstruction and development — the UN has also become increasingly involved in the non-physical aspects of peacebuilding. The goal is to promote long term peace and security and not stop with helping achieve cessations of violence that all too often prove fleeting.

What we currently witness in Yemen is particularly noteworthy: The agreement for the political transition specifies that the provisions for transitional justice and national reconciliation would be addressed through a broadly inclusive national dialogue process. As you know, that dialogue concluded a few days ago with positive results that need to be nurtured and supported, to complete the transition and promote peace in Yemen.

Let me be clear: we are fully aware that reconciliation cannot substitute for justice, as essential element of ending conflict. However, the reverse also holds true. For example, the international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda cannot substitute for national reconciliation. Put another way, seeking truth and accountability for the past are essential. But they are not by themselves a plan to heal a broken state. That work has to keep happening in the present and in the future.

The UN does not have the monopoly on reconciliation efforts. One often, for very good reason, cites South Africa as an example of an extremely effective national reconciliation that can serve as a model for others. There are a number of organizations including the UN that are increasingly taking a more systematic approach to reconciliation issues, in recognition that the physical end of fighting, welcome as that is, does not end the conflict.

While the UN’s approach to enabling permanent peace is under constant review, I will share with you four areas that I believe deserve special attention:

First, peace agreements themselves should, where possible and appropriate, provide agreed overall principles and mechanisms through which reconciliation can be pursued, tailored to the specific situation of each conflict.

Second, the timing of elections and constitutional review processes need to be considered carefully. If they come too early, they can legitimize war-profiteers and thus entrench war-tine narratives and fiefdoms. With premature elections, opportunistic populist leaders can cultivate grievances to win office, with risks to long-term peace and stability.

Third, reconciliation has to come from inside and cannot be externally imposed. However, outsiders — Member States, the UN and regional organizations – can encourage and enable such national processes taking place sooner rather than later. At the same time, the international community and societies concerned need to give reconciliation the necessary time. The trust that has been shattered overnight tends to take years to rebuild.

Fourth, bearing in mind that national processes differ significantly, there nevertheless appears benefit in considering common strands and establishing a repository of comparative knowledge and experience on reconciliation that can be put at the disposal of Member States, UN Special Envoys, and others.

Mr. President,

I would like to conclude by raising some questions:

- Can the international community, and more specifically, the members of the Security Council and the UN, provide incentives for reconciliation that is nationally-owned and led?

- When is the right moment for the process to start and how do we get the timing right of elections and transitional processes more broadly?

- When prevention has failed and ethnic cleansing has taken place, how do we reconcile our aspiration of rebuilding shared societies with realities of division in the country or region concerned?

Some may ask whether the United Nations in general or the Security Council more specifically should help promote national reconciliation. I would hope that the example of the Syrian catastrophe demonstrates how unresolved internal conflicts can pose grave risks to international peace and security. Moreover, as a member state-based organization, the UN itself is stronger when member states are at peace internally and with each other.

I thank Jordan for having made us consider some of the most critical aspects that tend to undermine permanent peace and hope that today’s debate will trigger more in-depth rethinking of how to ensure more traction to our approaches to peace and security especially when addressing internal conflicts.

Thank you.

UJUMBE WA KATIBU MKUU WA UMOJA WA MATAIFA KATIKA SIKU YA KIMATAIFA YA MAADHIMISHO YA KUWAKUMBUKA WAHANGA WA MAUAJI YA MAANGAMIZI YA MOTO,

27 JANUARY 2014;DAR ES SALAAM:Kila mwaka katika maadhimisho ya siku ya kumbukumbu ya ukombozi wa kambi ya mateso ya Auschwitz, tunawakumbuka wahanga wa mauaji ya maangamizi ya moto. Tunakumbuka mateso ya mamilioni ya watu wasio na hatia, na kuonyesha madhara ya chuki na ubaguzi dhidi ya Wayahudi na chuki ya aina nyingine yoyote.

Mwaka huu tunaangazia safari ya eneo la mauaji ya maangamizi—na ninakumbuka safari yangu mwenyewe ya hivi karibuni.

Novemba mwaka jana, nilitembea kupitia lango lenye sifa mbaya la “arbeit macht frei” huko Auschwitz-Birkenau. Sitasahau kamwe ziara yangu hii.

Niliona mabaki ya kutisha ya vyombo vya mashine ya mauaji ya kimbari, pamoja na picha zinazogusa hisia za maisha ya Wayahudi Ulaya katika miaka ya 1930 – ndoa, vyakula vya familia, matambiko, na mandhari nyingine za maisha ya kawaida ya kila siku –vyote vimefifishwa kwa njia ya mauaji yaliyopangiliwa ambayo ni ya aina yake katika historia ya binadamu.

Niliona makambi ambako Wayahudi, Waroma, Wasinti, mashoga, wafungwa wa kivita na watu wenye ulemavu walitumia siku zao za mwisho katika hali ya unyama wa kupindukia.

Umoja wa Mataifa ulianzishwa kuzuia kila aina hii ya fazaa kutokea tena. Lakini bado misiba kuanzia Cambodia hadi Rwanda mpaka Srebrenica inaonyesha kuwa sumu ya mauaji ya kimbari bado inatiririka.

Ni lazima tuwe macho zaidi wakati wote dhidi ya chuki zisizo na sababu, itikadi kali, migongano ya kijumuia na ubaguzi dhidi ya makundi ya walio wachache. Na lazima tuwafundishe watoto wetu vema. Mauaji ya Maangamizi na Mpango wa Umoja wa Mataifa wa Huduma Maalum umeandaa nyenzo zinazofaa za kielimu na ubia imara unaosaidia kufikisha mafunzo haya kwa wanafunzi duniani kote.

Nikiwa nimesimama karibu na tanuru la kuchomea watu huko Auschwitz, nilihuzunishwa sana na kila kilichokuwa kimetokea humo. Lakini pia nilitiwa moyo na wale wote waliozikomboa kambi hizo za mauaji kwa ajili ya binadamu wote. Tuunganishe nguvu leo hii katika safari ya pamoja kuelekea kwenye ulimwengu wa usawa na heshima kwa wote.