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Malala designated youngest-ever UN Messenger of Peace

  • 11 April 2017 |
  • Published in Youth

10 April 2017 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today designated children’s rights activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai as a UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on girls’ education.

“You have been to the most difficult places […] visited several refugee camps. Your foundation has schools in Lebanon, in the Beka’a Valley,” said Mr. Guterres at a ceremony in the Trusteeship Council chamber at UN Headquarters, in New York.

“[You are a] symbol of perhaps the most important thing in the world, education for all,” he highlighted.

Ms. Yousafzai, who was shot in 2012 by the Taliban for attending classes, is the youngest-ever UN Messenger of Peace and the first one to be designated by Secretary-General Guterres since he assumed office in January this year.

Accepting the accolade, Ms. Yousafzai underscored the importance of education, especially education of girls, for advancing communities and societies.

“[Bringing change] starts with us and it should start now,” she said, adding: “If you want to see your future bright, you have to start working now [and] not wait for anyone else.”

UN Messengers of Peace are distinguished individuals, carefully selected from the fields of art, literature, science, entertainment, sports or other fields of public life, who have agreed to help focus worldwide attention on the work of the global Organization.

Backed by the highest honour bestowed by the Secretary-General on a global citizen, these prominent personalities volunteer their time, talent and passion to raise awareness of UN’s efforts to improve the lives of billions of people everywhere.


If you speak out, you can help people – UN Messenger of Peace Malala Following the official presentation, Secretary-General Guterres and Ms. Yousafzai conversed with youth representatives from around the world on the theme of girls’ education. Taking a question from a 10 4 17malalayoung speaker in the audience, Ms. Yousafzai said the most difficult time she faced had been from 2007 to 2009 in the Swat Valley, “because we were at a point of making a decision about whether to speak out or remain silent. And I realized that if you remain silent, you are still going to be terrorized. So speaking out, you can help people.” While recovering from the Taliban attack, she realized that “extremists tried everything to stop me [and the fact that they didn’t] is clear evidence that no one can stop me. I have second life for the purpose of [pressing for] education and I’ll continue working on [this issue].


Ms. Yousafazi went on to say that brothers and fathers must also support women and girls in the global effort to ensure education for all and, more importantly, to “be who they want to be.” Indeed, she said that her father always told people not to ask him what he did for Malala, ‘but ask what I didn’t do – I didn’t clip her wings.’


Summing up the conversation, Mr. Guterrers called Ms. Yousafzai’s life “a remarkable example of solidarity.” Yet, he said, Pakistan is also such an example. “We live in a world where so many borders are closed; so many doors are closed, but Pakistan has received seven million refugees with open borders, open doors and hearts – a symbol of generosity.”


He hoped this spirit could serve as an example that “it is not by closing doors that we will all be able to move forward.”

nuclear weapons ‘fundamentally incompatible’ with world's aspiration for peace

27 March 2017 – At the start of a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, a senior UN official highlighted that creating a world free of such weapons is a common obligation of all States – both nuclear and non-nuclear – and called for their inclusive engagement.

“Let us all work harder and more creatively, so that we can achieve our common goal of a world, safer and more secure, without nuclear weapons, and better for all,” said Kim Won-soo, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

Speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, he also expressed hope that the instrument will also strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and advance the world closer to the total elimination of nuclear weapons and that it would make important contribution to nuclear disarmament and to our ultimate objective of general and complete disarmament.

Yet he acknowledged that defeatism and dismissiveness now permeate international deliberations on disarmament, and cautioned that the public at large seems to be losing interest in the issue. Indeed, it is hard to imagine these days a gathering of one million people in the street in support of nuclear disarmament, as the world witnessed in the 1980s.

“We need to find a new way to inspire and motivate the public in support of disarmament, in the same way that they have been energized to respond to the challenge of climate change, an existential threat facing humanity,” he stated.

According to 2016 estimates, more than 15,000 nuclear warheads remain in global stockpiles
While this is a considerable reduction from the inventories maintained during the Cold War, the pace of the reduction has declined in recent years and concerns are rising over continued reliance on nuclear weapons in security doctrines and continuing programmes to modernize and improve nuclear weapons.

In his remarks, Mr. Kim also stressed that purist of nuclear as well as non-nuclear strategic weapons would not create security but instead can provoke “new and destabilizing” arms races as well as exacerbate regional and global tension.

“The possession of nuclear weapons, which are linked with the threat of their use, is fundamentally incompatible with humanity’s common aspirations for peace and security,” he said.

2017 Holocaust Education Outreach activities launched at Model UN training in Chaguanas


31 January 2017 - UNIC launched its 2017 Holocaust education outreach activites at one of the training sessions for Model United Nations Students on Saturday 28 January 2017. The film titled " A path to Nazi Genocide"  was screened to one more than  hundred students from more than 50 different secondary schools across the country. The UNIC also featured it's latest addition to the Centre's travelling exhibit - " State of Deception" . A visual journey that examines how the Nazi used images and the latest communication technonogies at their time to spread false information about Jews and other undesirables, with the aim of winning civil society over in their ambition to create a euphamistic 'aryan' led world.

The activity was made possible by the Rotary Club of Central Port of Spain in collaboration with  College of Sceince, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago ( COSTAATT), at the College's newly opened purpose built campus in Central Trinidad. President of the Rotary Club of Central Port of Spain - Lara Quentrall Thomas added her personal story of her families' contribution to the freedom of the victims of the Holocaust - Both her grandfathers served in military service supporting the allied forces, sadly she recalled only one returned home.

The people of the Caribbean also volunteered to fight alongside the allied forces to bring an end to the far reaching conquest of the Nazi.

UNIC has been hosting events and conducting outreach activites on the Holocaust since 2007 as part of a global programme that was created by the United Nations Department of Public Information at the request of the UN General Assembly ( Resolution 60/7).

International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is observed every year on 27 January. [ more information ]


2017 Holocaust Education Outreach activities to be launched at Model UN training, COSTAATT - Chaguanas

UNIC will launch its 2017 Holocaust education outreach activites at one of the training sessions for Model United Nations Students on Saturday 28 January 2017. The event will include the screening of the film titled " A path to Nazi Genocide" and will also feature the latest addition to the Centre's travelling exhibit - " State of Deception" . A visual journey that examines how the Nazi used images and the latest communication technonogies at their time to spread false information about Jews and other undesirables, with the aim of winning civil society over in their ambition to create a euphamistic 'aryan' led world.

The activity targets about one hundred and ten school students who are participants in MUN 2017 that is being organised by the Rotary Club of Central Port of Spain in collaboration with sponsors like  the College of Sceince, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago and others. The event will be hosted by the COSTAATT at its recently completed purpose build campus in Chaguanas, Trinidad. 

UNIC has been hosting events and conducting outreach activites on the Holocaust since 2007 as part of a global programme that was created by the United Nations Department of Public Information at the request of the UN General Assembly ( Resolution 60/7).

International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is observed every year on 27 January. [ more information ]


Colombia: UN-led mechanism investigating alleged ceasefire violation

17 November 2016 – The tripartite Mechanism coordinated by the United Nations and comprising the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) has started investigations into a 15 November incident in the country’s Santa Rosa municipality that resulted in the deaths of two FARC-EP members.

“The tripartite Mechanism deeply regrets and expresses concern about the first deaths since the beginning of the Bilateral Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities, on 29 August,” read a news release issued by the Mechanism, which is coordinated by the UN Mission in Colombia.

“Upon completing the investigation, the Mechanism will issue the necessary recommendations to avoid recurrence of such incidents,” it added.

A third FARC-EP member – who was unharmed in the incident – is also being investigated, noted the release.

The tripartite Mechanism is monitoring and verifying the ceasefire under a protocol, agreed by the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP, according to which they agreed “not to enter armed contact” and “to maintain the discipline and control of the units so as not to generate acts or incidents that endanger the ceasefire.”

As part of its mandate, the Mechanism is also investigating another alleged incident in the municipality of Tumaco, department of Nariño (located in southwest Colombia).

Also in the news release, the Mechanism called upon the two parties to facilitate the flow of information and to maintain communications that will strengthen its coordination. It also said that it is open to receiving information from civilians and social organizations.

The release also highlighted that the Mechanism underlined the importance of maintaining the parties’ commitment to respect the Bilateral Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities.


'Crimes of historic proportions’ being committed in Aleppo, UN rights chief warns

21 October 2016 – Describing the bombardment and crippling siege of Syria’s war-ravaged eastern Aleppo as “crimes of historic proportions” the top United Nations rights official today urged the members of the UN Human Rights Council to “speak with one voice” in an effort to end the bloodshed.

“The ancient city of Aleppo, a place of millennial civility and beauty, is today a slaughterhouse – a gruesome locus of pain and fear, where the lifeless bodies of small children are trapped under streets of rubble and pregnant women deliberately bombed,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told a special session of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council today as the 47-member body prepared to take up a draft resolution on the issue.

“The collective failure of the international community to protect civilians and halt this bloodshed should haunt every one of us,” he noted further, and warned that “its costs will be borne by our children, and future generations.”

The UN human rights chief further said the “civil war – now also a proxy conflict fuelled by cynical regional and international interests” – has killed well over 300,000, wounded and traumatized countless others, resulted in the abduction, summary execution or arbitrary detention of tens of thousands and displaced more half the Syrian population.

He further noted that hospitals, schools, marketplaces, water facilities and neighbourhood bakeries had been deliberately and repeatedly attacked and millions have been denied life-saving aid.

Noting that his Office (OHCHR) documented a number violations of international humanitarian law by all parties in Aleppo, High Commissioner Zeid said the attacks that have caused a number of civilian casualties constitute war crimes.

“And if knowingly committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against civilians, they constitute crimes against humanity,” he added.

Mr. Zeid noted that though the responsibility for halting the Syrian crisis primarily fell to the UN Security Council, the General Assembly may also have a role.

Urging members of the Human Rights Council to set aside political disagreements and focus exclusively on the suffering of women, men and children, he stressed: “No hypothetical advantage in global gamesmanship could possibly outweigh this pain and horror.”

He further urged the Security Council to set aside rivalries and act as one, in accordance with international security and peace, and said “Influence must be used to advance a political solution to the conflict. Flows of arms and equipment to the parties to the conflict must cease.”

He also underlined the urgency of referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court and said that all parties to the conflict “must know that they will be held accountable for the international crimes they commit – all, without selective protection or discrimination.”

Calling for an immediate, prolonged and all-encompassing ceasefire to enable humanitarian aid he called on the top UN human rights body to “speak with one voice” for the protection of civilians in what he called was the defining human rights crisis of our era.

The Human Rights Council’s special session comes just hours after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, briefed an informal meeting of the General Assembly in New York, during which Mr. Ban said the horrors committed in the Syria conflict may amount to war crimes, calling on Member States “to cooperate and fulfil your collective responsibility to protect.”


The power of young people to shape a new future




Montreal, 12 February 2016

[As prepared for delivery]


Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for your warm welcome.

I have come to Montreal from New York – and tonight the Montreal Canadiens are in New York to play the Buffalo Sabres. I am a diplomat so I should not take sides in any situation, including a hockey game – but let me just say: Go, Habs, go!

Ladies and gentlemen,

McGill has sent many people onto the world stage.  A former President of the General Assembly, my Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect, Ms. Jennifer Welsh, human rights experts, political analysts and others have carried McGill’s spirit to the United Nations.

I had the honour of meeting yesterday with one of your most prominent graduates – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He has recommitted Canada to the United Nations. I am here to recommit the United Nations to partnership with Canada. Thanks to Prime Minister Trudeau, I am sure I can visit here often.

If anyone asks me, “Why do you fight for human rights and equality?” I can say: because it is 2016!  With McGill’s support, I am confident we can boldly go where no man has gone before.

As another famous McGill graduate once said, “Beam me up, Scotty!”


Ladies and gentlemen,

Sixty years ago, United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld addressed the McGill International Law Association. He said realists are tempted by the illusion of cynicism – and idealists are tempted by the illusion of Utopia. In other words, if you are realistic, you may expect too little. If you are idealistic, you may expect too much.

How to balance idealism and realism – that was the essence of some of the best advice I ever received. In the late 1950s, my middle school principal told me: keep your head above the clouds and your feet firmly planted on the ground – then advance step by step.

This is my approach at the United Nations, where we defend high ideals against tough realities. At the nexus of the world’s greatest hopes and worst problems, you find young people.

Today, I will speak about the major threats in our world – and how youth can forge solutions with the United Nations.

I will focus on four problems: unemployment, climate change, armed conflict and humanitarian crises. And four global responses: our Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate change agreement, the Security Council resolution on youth and the World Humanitarian Summit.

My message is: you can help turn these ideals into actions.

Distinguished faculty, Dear students, Ladies and gentlemen,

The students here are part of the largest generation of youth in history. The world, though 4 billion years old, is still very young, with half of the global population under 25. Many of you may be preparing to look for a job. Over the next decade, the world will need 600 million new jobs for all the new workers. Even in some of the wealthiest countries, nearly half of all young adults are unemployed.

Climate change represents an intergenerational injustice. The older generation has not taken care of the planet that young people inherit. The world is also ripped apart by conflicts.

Some 600 million young people live in countries that are fragile or war-torn. There are now 60 million refugees and displaced people – more than at any time since the end of the Second World War. Thousands die each year searching for what everyone deserves: safety, opportunity and peace.

Yesterday, I visited with some Syrian refugees. By chance, there was a man there I had met before, when he was in a refugee camp in Jordan. Thanks to Canada, he is here, full of appreciation for this country and its warm people. When I go to refugee camps, I am especially concerned about young children who might think they will spend their whole future there.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Youth are targeted by violent extremists – and sometimes blamed for their actions. We see sensational headlines about young killers, or young women who join terrorist movements, or young victims. This completely distorted picture fails to show that the vast majority of young people want peace. I stand with them. With all these global threats, we cannot just worry about young people – or work for them.

We have to invest youth, and work with them for a new future. We have to put young people in influential positions. That is why I appointed the first-ever Youth Envoy at the United Nations, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, when he was 28 years old.

He is connecting the UN to young people and young people to the UN. This is essential for our new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. World leaders adopted it last September to end the tyranny of poverty. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are for all countries – rich and poor.

They are a promise to all people – especially young people, who can hold their governments accountable for these promises, and help achieve them. Last week, 800 young participants at our UN Economic and Social Council Youth Forum discussed how youth can carry out the 2030 Agenda. My Special Envoy will also convene a Global Youth Partnership for the SDGs with a “Youth Gateway” to engage more young people in realizing the Goals. 

And just ten days ago, the United Nations launched the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs. This is an exciting plan to promote green jobs for young people, create quality apprenticeships, expand digital skills and build tech hubs. Youth have been leading on climate action – which is essential to sustainable development. I was impressed by the more than 5,000 young people who adopted a Youth Manifesto ahead of the Paris climate talks last December.

You can all be part of the transition to a low-carbon future. You are consumers, innovators and voters. You can invest in green solutions, invent new technologies, and elect leaders who are committed to climate action.  You can be the entrepreneurs who do more than fill jobs – because you create them.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We cannot stop to celebrate global agreements because we are still confronting global threats. The war in Syria has dragged into its sixth year, with unbearable suffering and mass killing. Terrorist groups are committing atrocities especially against women and girls. They must be stopped. Many people worry about the pull of violent extremism on youth. I would turn this equation around and say that youth can end the pull of violent extremism. That is why I have been calling for empowering young peacebuilders. The Security Council answered this call last December by adopting resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security. This was a major breakthrough for how we make peace at the United Nations.

Until now, young people were generally seen as good enough to fight wars – but not to negotiate peace.

Resolution 2250 is our commitment to address this injustice – and give young people the voice they deserve. I have also recently presented a new UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism that recommends partnership with youth.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The United Nations is now coping with unprecedented needs for relief aid. The world is setting shameful records. Ten years ago, the United Nations asked donors for less than three and a half billion dollars for people in need. Now, we are asking for more than five times that amount, or twenty billion. We have the highest-ever appeals – and the biggest-ever shortfalls. To address these enormous challenges, we are convening the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit this May in Istanbul. This will be a major chance to demand results – and chart a course to realize them.

I have just presented to the United Nations General Assembly an agenda for humanity to ensure that no one facing conflict, poverty or disasters is left behind.

Last September, we organized a major youth consultation in Doha to help this Summit succeed. Humanitarian action must address the concerns of young people.

And we need to mobilize young people in our humanitarian response. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

When I was your age, I went overseas for the first time on a trip sponsored by the Red Cross. My family was poor. The community collected funds so my teacher could buy me a suit.

I wore that suit on a day that would change my life forever – when I visited Washington, DC and met with President Kennedy.

He told us – and I will try to quote as much as I can, “The government leaders don’t always get on, but I think people do. What hopes we can have for the future and our hopes are in all of you [young people]. There are no national boundaries. There is only a question of whether you can extend a helping hand. Whether you help someone in your country or in some foreign city, the general cause is served.”

President Kennedy inspired me to seek a life of public service. I left the White House resolved to give back to the community that had paid for my first suit – and to my country, to our world.

Each of you has your own version of my first suit. You are not here at McGill just for yourselves, but for our common future. I call on you to give back as a global citizen. Rise to the challenges of your generation. Join forces with the United Nations for a better world.

Thank you.

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