Africa has been characterized by many conflict situations that have resulted in the loss of millions of lives, widespread displacement and a wide array of human rights abuses.
Peace and Security
The African Union and its sub-regional organizations, such as the Economic Community of West African States, the Intergovernmental Authority for Development and the Southern Africa Development Community, have shown their resolve and commitment to preventing and resolving conflicts on the continent. Ambassador Rugunda, who has just completed a term as the president of the United Nations Security Council, will discuss what role these regional organizations are playing in the conflict prevention and resolution process in Africa.
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Senior Fellow Mwangi Kimenyi, director of the Africa Growth Initiative, will provide introductory remarks and moderate the discussion. Past Event. Conflicts today are also increasingly intensive, involving determined armed groups with access to sophisticated armaments and techniques. The nature of conflict has also changed over the years. Within the United Nations, peacebuilding refers to efforts to assist countries and regions in their transitions from war to peace and to reduce a country's risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict by strengthening national capacities for conflict management, and laying the foundations for sustainable peace and development.
Building lasting peace in war-torn societies is among the most daunting of challenges for global peace and security. Peacebuilding requires sustained international support for national efforts across the broadest range of activities — monitoring ceasefires; demobilizing and reintegrating combatants; assisting the return of refugees and displaced persons; helping organize and monitor elections of a new government; supporting justice and security sector reform; enhancing human rights protections and fostering reconciliation after past atrocities.
The resolutions also identify the need for the Commission to extend the period of international attention on post-conflict countries and where necessary, highlight any gaps which threaten to undermine peacebuilding. In , landmines and explosive hazards killed approximately 10 people every day — most of them children, women and the elderly — and severely maim countless more.
Scattered in some 57 countries and 4 territories, landmines and other explosive hazards are an ongoing reminder of conflicts which have been over for years or even decades. The vision of the United Nations is a world free of the threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war, where individuals and communities live in a safe environment conducive to development and where the needs of victims are met.
Twelve United Nations Departments and Offices of the Secretariat, specialized agencies, funds and programmes play a role in mine-action programs in 30 countries and three territories. Mine action makes it possible for peacekeepers to carry out patrols, for humanitarian agencies to deliver assistance, and for ordinary citizens to live without the fear that a single misstep could cost them their lives.
Mine action entails more than removing landmines from the ground. It includes high impact efforts aimed at protecting people from danger, helping victims become self-sufficient and active members of their communities and providing opportunities for stability and sustainable development.
Much of the actual work, such as demining and mine-risk education, is carried out by nongovernmental organizations. But commercial contractors and, in some situations, militaries, also provide humanitarian mine-action services.
Regional Organizations and UN Peacekeeping
In addition, a variety of intergovernmental, international and regional organizations, as well as international financial institutions, also support mine action by funding operations or providing services to individuals and communities affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war. United Nations peacekeeping operations often play a key role in this process. UNMAS ensures an effective, proactive and coordinated response to the problems of landmines and explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions.
It assesses and monitors the threat posed by mines and unexploded ordnance on an ongoing basis, and develops policies and standards. The Service mobilizes resources, and advocates in support of the global ban on anti-personnel landmines. UNMAS sets up and manages mine-action coordination centres in countries and territories as part of peacekeeping operations and humanitarian emergencies or crises.
The UN has been actively engaged in addressing the problems posed by landmines since the s. It acted decisively to address the use of weapons having indiscriminate effects when it sponsored the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.. In , that Convention was strengthened to include the use of landmines in internal conflicts and to require that all mines be detectable.
Eventually, a growing public outcry, combined with the committed action of non-governmental organizations involved in the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines ICBL , led to the adoption of a comprehensive global agreement. As of November , it had States parties. In contemporary conflicts, as much as 90 percent of casualties are among civilians, most of whom are women and children.
Women in war-torn societies can face specific and devastating forms of sexual violence, which are sometimes deployed systematically to achieve military or political objectives. Moreover, women continue to be poorly represented in formal peace processes, although they contribute in many informal ways to conflict resolution.
However, the UN Security Council has recognized that including women and gender perspectives in decision-making can strengthen prospects for sustainable peace. The landmark resolution specifically addresses the situation of women in armed conflict and calls for their participation at all levels of decision-making on conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
Since , the systematic engagement of the UN Security Council has firmly placed the situation of children affected by armed conflict as an issue affecting peace and security. The Security Council has created a strong framework and provided the Secretary-General with tools to respond to violations against children. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict serves as the leading UN advocate for the protection and well-being of children affected by armed conflict. The United Nations works to ensure that outer space is used for peaceful purposes and that the benefits from space activities are shared by all nations.
This concern with the peaceful uses of outer space began soon after the launch of Sputnik— the first artificial satellite—by the Soviet Union in , and has kept pace with advances in space technology. The United Nations has played an important role by developing international space law and by promoting international cooperation in space science and technology.
The Vienna-based United Nations Office for Outer Space serves as the secretariat for the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its subcommittees, and assists developing countries in using space technology for development. Welcome to the United Nations. Toggle navigation Language:.