NGO Briefing Calendar
Click below for the most updated information on the 2013 Fall/Winter Briefing Season.
CALENDAR First Briefing: 3 October
Issues before the General Assembly and the Post 2015 Development Agenda
High Level Meetings of the 68th Session (2013)
Disability and development : "The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond"
24 September -
General Debate *
High-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament
High-level dialogue on international migration and development
Access to UN Complex During the General Debate
23 September -
* Due to increased security, NGO Badge holders will not be able to access the UN security perimeter, starting on 2nd Avenue. Because of the relocation of the General Assembly Hall, there will be no tickets to attend the General Debate as the space is very limited. NGO Representatives are invited to follow the Debate via UN Multimedia and UNTV.
High-level side events at the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Non Communicable Diseases and Disability: Creating synergies, reducing inequalities, advancing development
This side event will demonstrate the nexus between Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and disability and examine how health systems can be reoriented and reinforced to ensure equitable access to high quality care for persons with disabilities and with NCDs.
Human rights achievements, shortcomings and the way forward
An interactive event to mark the 20th Anniversary of the adoption on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) by the World Conference on Human Rights in June 1993 in Vienna, Austria.
Dear friends of the UN International Day of Peace,
It is truly thrilling to see all the events being planned for the weekend of September 21st all over the world! Here are a few last-minute notes from the United Nations.
We are grateful to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for issuing his statement well in advance, and for calling for the Minute of Silence at 12 noon that we know will circle our globe with our prayers and our love. And of course he speaks compellingly about the theme, Education for Peace. The video message should be on the UN website tomorrow, but the transcript is already available here:
At United Nations headquarters in New York, the banner is up on the fence (see below)! The official International Day of Peace observance will take place this Wednesday, September 18. The Secretary-General will ring the Peace Bell at 9:00 a.m. in the Rose Garden, accompanied by dignitaries including Dr. Jane Goodall and Monique Coleman, as well as young people raising the flags of all nations. Although the ceremony will not be carried live, it will be available shortly thereafter at http://webtv.un.org/.
The program for high school and college students that follows at 9:30 a.m. New York time will also feature Dr. Goodall and Ms. Coleman, along with the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi; the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Angela Kane; a live link to the UN Peacekeeping site in Haiti, music by Ta’Kaiya Blaney and by Technicolor Lenses; and much, much more. Our heartfelt appreciation goes to the UN Department of Public Information for all that they have put into making this event a success for the 500 students who will be in attendance and those who will view the webcast around the world.
Educators and others are warmly welcome to watch the student observance live or later in the archives (organized by date) at http://webtv.un.org/.
Blessings to all for an exciting International Day of Peace as together we take our stand for a shining culture of peace for all nations!
May Peace Prevail on Earth!
The IDP NGO Committee
Amb. Anwarul K. Chowdhury – Honorary Chair
Michael Johnson, Deborah Moldow, Shawn Sweeney, Monica Willard – Co-Chairs
Celebrate the UN International Day of Peace, 21 September!
The UN Has Declared This The Gravest Refugee Crisis In A Generation — Do You Know What It Is?
Click here for more information!
USUN PRESS RELEASE #153 September 11, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, At an Informal Interactive Dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect, September 11, 2013
Thank you, panel members, for addressing these important issues on the Responsibility to Protect. I’d like to thank the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General for organizing today’s dialogue.
We are here today because in 2005 the nations of the world met in this Assembly and reached a consensus that the protection of civilians against the most horrific crimes known to man presents an urgent summons to each and all of us. All governments have a responsibility to protect their people from these crimes, and all nations have a stake in helping them meet that responsibility.
Having joined that consensus, it is appalling to see what the Syrian government has wrought on its own people over the last two years. And yet even against this murderous backdrop, the events of August 21 stand out. On that day, the world watched with horror as the Assad regime deployed chemical weapons against its own people, poisoning over 1,000 men, women and children—hundreds of children—with a chemical nerve agent as many of them slept.
When we focus on this attack, as we have of late, the question invariably arises: What about the tens of thousands of civilians who have died through more conventional means? Were they owed any less protection? Of course not. The mother who has to live without her five year-old daughter because she was killed by a sniper feels the pain no less searingly than the father whose five year-old son was asphyxiated in a sarin attack. All attacks on civilians are an outrage that should shock the conscience. We must also recognize that the use of chemical weapons crosses a line. These weapons are particularly grotesque, efficient, and indiscriminate. Their use can’t be reconciled with basic principles of humanity that apply, even in wartime. And their proliferation poses a correspondingly high risk to international peace and security, but, more concretely, to citizens in all countries. When the norm is violated, as it was on August 21, the violation cannot go unanswered, unless we are willing to see these weapons used again. And on this my government has spoken clearly: we are not.
The consensus reached in September 2005 should not be code for necessitating military intervention. But R2P is a doctrine for prevention.
It should have compelled Assad to protect his people rather than attack them, and it should have compelled his partners in the international community to step in earlier, lend advice and assistance, and prevent the situation from reaching its current metastatic proportions. It should have. Clearly, it is the understatement of the year to say we still have work to do.
In the area of prevention there is much we can do. To offer some examples, we can prioritize atrocity prevention at the national level. For R2P to mean anything, governments must go beyond their general support for the World Summit outcome document and make it clear—from the Head of State downward—that the protection of civilians is a priority. This focus for us has clarified—this leadership by President Obama has clarified—the way in which we have worked to meet crises, from the Kivus to Rakhine State in Burma.
Governments can organize to make sure that all of our national capabilities—diplomatic, development, financial, justice, and defense—are being honed and used to best effect in the service of atrocity prevention. Much has been made of President Obama’s Atrocity Prevention Board, but it is simply a high-level vehicle to press the rest of the government to help ensure we are working to deploy the full range of preventative tools we have to ensure civilians are protected.
We can multilateralize our efforts. As I noted earlier, R2P recognizes that the prevention of atrocities is a matter of international concern. That’s why the recently adopted Arms Trade Treaty, which will help prevent the illicit flow of arms to atrocity perpetrators, is so important. It’s why peacekeeping missions should have the training and mandates they need, and it’s why we each need to support the UN Secretariat—including our dynamic colleague, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng. Given the important role that UN mediation capacity plays, I am pleased that the Friends of Mediation, which the U.S. recently joined, will be meeting at the ministerial level on the margins of the General Assembly opening session to advance support for this critical function.
In conclusion, these are just three ideas—prioritize, organize, multilateralize—but for my government, they have provided an important place to start. I know your governments have your own approaches, and I look forward to hearing about and learning from them. The international consensus around R2P remains a signal achievement of multilateral cooperation and a testament to our common humanity. But as we share ideas, there is one thing on which I hope we can all agree: we have a great deal of work to do. The important framework that the Outcome Document created in 2005 remains more aspirational than it is real. Eight years and countless innocent lives later, we are the ones who have a responsibility to make it real.
Thank you so much, sir.
USUN PRESS RELEASE #148 September 5, 2013
Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the Security Council Stakeout on Syria, September 5, 2013
Good afternoon. It's great to be here.
As part of the United States’ ongoing consultations with international partners, allies, and the broader international community, today the U.S. Mission hosted a series of briefings for Member States regarding the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime on August 21st. Today’s briefings presented our assessment regarding the events of August 21 in the suburbs of Damascus, which overwhelmingly point to one stark conclusion: the Assad regime perpetrated a large-scale and indiscriminate attack against its own people using chemical weapons.
The actions of the Assad regime are morally reprehensible and they violate clearly established international norms. The use of chemical weapons is not America’s redline. As President Obama said yesterday, “This is the world’s red line.” 189 countries, representing 98% of the world’s population, and all 15 members of the UN Security Council, agree that the use of chemical weapons is abhorrent and we have all collectively approved a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war.
Let me address now an issue on many on your minds. We in the United States agree with the view that – at times like this -- the Security Council should live up to its obligations and should act. That is why for two and a half years we have brought press statements, presidential statements, resolutions, and a whole host of Syria-related concerns to the UN Security Council, each time hoping that our common security and our common humanity might prevail, each time making the case that countries on the Council should be motivated by our shared interest in international peace and security, in protecting civilians, but also in preventing extremism, regional spillover, and chemical weapons use.
Unfortunately, for the past two and a half years, the system devised in 1945 precisely to deal with threats of this nature did not work as it was supposed to. It has not protected peace and security for the hundreds of Syrian children who were gassed to death on August 21. It is not protecting the stability of the region. It is not standing behind now an internationally accepted ban on the use of chemical weapons. Instead, the system has protected the prerogatives of Russia, the patron of a regime that would brazenly stage the world’s largest chemical weapons attack in a quarter century -- while chemical weapons inspectors sent by the United Nations were just across town. And even in the wake of the flagrant shattering of the international norm against chemical weapons use, Russia continues to hold the Council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities, including as a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
What we have learned – what the Syrian people have learned – is that the Security Council the world needs to deal with this crisis is not the Security Council we have. Nonetheless, as the Secretary General himself has stressed, chemical weapons must “not become a tool of war or terror in the twenty-first century.” It is in our interest – and the interest of all member states of the UN – to respond decisively to this horrific attack.
I am happy now to take your questions.
Reporter: Ambassador Power, what is your response to Russian President Putin's comment that he would consider, did not exclude, returning to the Security Council if he had definitive proof? And is there any way the Security Council can be relevant, in this, on this issue?
Ambassador Power: Thank you, I have seen Putin's comments. I think we have to step back a little bit from those comments and again look at this pattern, not only over two and a half years, but even in the last couple months on chemical weapons. In July, in the wake of the G8, when Putin and the rest of the world's leaders at the G8 had issued a statement condemning chemical weapons use, we and our colleagues sought here at the UN Security Council to enshrine the words in that statement in a Security Council resolution condemning chemical weapons use. Russia rejected this. I believe that Ambassador Churkin appeared here and said that the Security Council was not the appropriate venue for discussing chemical weapons or condemning chemical weapons. On August 21, when all of us were watching those videos and seeing those children, we tried again in the Security Council to issue just a press statement condemning chemical weapons use, and again Russia blocked the issuance of a mere press statement. Not even identifying responsibility, but just condemning chemical weapons use. There is nothing in the pattern of our interactions with our colleagues in the Security Council, with our Russian colleagues, that would give us any reason to be optimistic, and indeed we have seen nothing in President Putin's comments that suggest that there is an available path forward at the Security Council.
Reporter: Thank you very much. Madame Ambassador, now that you have decided that the regime in Syria, the government in Syria is responsible for one of the most heinous crimes of the use of chemical weapons and there are efforts to bomb Syria, how can we envisage a Geneva Conference II to be held? Are you going to sit with these same people who you are accusing of the worst crimes of the 21st century, and most importantly would the opposition sit with them? Is there any chance of Geneva II being realized? And would this government that you are accusing of these crimes honor any agreement, do you have faith that they would honor any agreement? And second question quickly, since you don't see the 1945 council rules -- enough to carry a world consensus, are you going to double your efforts as the United States to reform the Security Council? Thank you.
Ambassador Power: Thank you so much. On your first question, there is no long term solution for Syria that does not entail a political solution. You are right of course to suggest that it would be extremely challenging in the wake of a monstrous gas attack of this nature for the parties to sit down, particularly as you say for the opposition to sit down with the regime. And that is what we found, and that is why the opposition pulled out of preexisting planned talks. And as you know, President Obama has formulated with some of our allies, through consultations with some of our allies, a planned response with regard, again, to this mass causality chemical weapons attack. But again, responding to this flagrant violation of the norm in a military way does not suggest that there is a military solution for this conflict. And that is why consistently the United States with many of our partners have pushed the parties to the table. We've used the leverage that we have with some of the opposition groups. We have urged our colleague on Security Council to use the leverage that they have with the regime. And that is what we will continue to do going forward. To suggest that there is a military solution overall, for the conflict in Syria, I think is to invite state failure. And the kind of breakdown and human suffering and regional spillover and set of pernicious consequences that we most fear. Let me just address the issue of the Security Council more generally. And you picked up on my reference to the spirit in which the Security Council was created back in 1945. And there have been occasions, and this is something President Obama made reference to yesterday, in the life of the Security Council, in the history of the Security Council, where paralysis has prevented the council from fulfilling its role. In this case, with regard to this mass casualty chemical weapons use and the risk of further use, the risk as the Secretary General said of this becoming a weapon of war, to stand back would be to endanger not only international peace and security, not only US national security, but we also believe the very international system that we have been working these decades to build. And, on occasions, as we had with Kosovo, as we would have had perhaps in the case of Rwanda, had different proposals been presented, and in this case, we cannot allow the patron of a party to the conflict, the patron of the actor that itself violated this international norm, to act with impunity simply because it has that patronage on the Security Council. That in no way reflects the spirit of the UN charter or the intentions of the founders or the intentions of any of us who come to work every day with the hope of promoting and enforcing international peace and security.
Reporter: The British delegation had submitted a resolution to the P5 calling for some kind of response to the chemical attack. They have not withdrawn that resolution, but they are no longer acting on it. Do you think that anyone else is going to pick up the baton on that or are you going to let it simply die because of the deadlock that you are speaking of?
Ambassador Power: I was present in the meeting where the UK laid down the resolution and everything in that meeting, in word and in body language, suggests that that resolution has no prospect of being adopted by Russia in particular. And our view, again our considered view, after months of efforts on chemical weapons and after two and a half years on Geneva, on the humanitarian situation, is that there is no viable path forward in this Security Council. Thank you.
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