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Newsline: Top Diplomats Seek to Improve Peacemaking

A group of diplomats, former statesmen and U.N. officials began seeking political backing this week for a peacemaking framework to shape new standards for resolving conflicts that they say can avoid past mistakes such as in Mali and Afghanistan. But the framework’s proponents, who have just completed a two-year consultation period in dozens of countries, say today’s peace brokers are applying the wrong strategy. “You could say ‘Why the hell are people talking about peace when the whole thing falls apart?’ But there’s not a more important moment to talk about peace,” Bert Koenders, former U.N. envoy for Mali who is the Principles for Peace co-chair, said on the sidelines of a meeting with countries in Geneva. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2023-01-20/top-diplomats-un-officials-seek-to-fix-wild-west-of-peacemaking) There are more than 50 active conflicts in the world, from Democratic Republic of Congo to Ukraine, affecting some 2 billion people – a record for the post-World War Two period.

Newsline: UN envoy encouraged by Yemen truce

The United Nations envoy for Yemen said on Monday he was encouraged by intensified efforts for an expanded truce deal but stressed they should seek an inclusive process for a sustainable political settlement. Hans Grundberg, addressing a U.N. Security Council briefing more than three months after an initial truce pact expired, said “we are witnessing a potential step change” in the conflict’s trajectory though the situation remained “complex and fluid”. Grundberg, speaking from the Houthi-held capital Sanaa, thanked Saudi Arabia and Oman for their diplomacy and said discussions in the past month have developed “options for mutually acceptable solutions to outstanding issues”. But he advised against a “piecemeal approach” focused on individual needs, saying talks on short-term steps should be part of a broader approach toward a sustainable resolution of a multifaceted conflict in which several parties are vying for power. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/un-envoy-encouraged-by-yemen-truce-deal-efforts-warns-against-piecemeal-approach-2023-01-16/) The eight-year-old conflict between a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the Iran-aligned Houthi group, the de facto authorities in North Yemen, has killed tens of thousands of people, wrecked the economy and pushed millions into hunger. A U.N.-brokered truce deal agreed in April and rolled over twice delivered the longest stretch of relative calm that has largely held since its expiry on Oct. 2, though the two sides stepped up an economic war.

Newsline: U.N. Security Council to vote on Myanmar Wednesday

The U.N. Security Council is likely to vote on Wednesday on a draft resolution demanding an immediate end to violence in Myanmar and urging its military junta to release all political prisoners, including ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, diplomats said. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/un-security-council-likely-vote-wednesday-myanmar-2022-12-19/) The 15-member council has long been split on Myanmar with diplomats saying China and Russia would likely shield the junta from strong action. So far it has only agreed formal statements on Myanmar, where the army also led a 2017 crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, forcing more than 700,000 to flee to Bangladesh. Negotiations on the British-drafted resolution began in September. The initial text – seen by Reuters – urged an immediate end to the transfer of arms to Myanmar and threatened U.N. sanctions, but that language has since been removed. To be adopted, a Security Council resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain. The draft resolution, seen by Reuters, expresses “deep concern” at the ongoing state of emergency imposed by the military when it seized power and its “grave impact” on the people of Myanmar.

Newsline: U.N. shelves bid by Myanmar, Afghanistan and Libya for representation

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday approved postponing – for the second time – a decision on whether the Afghan Taliban administration and the Myanmar junta can send a United Nations ambassador to New York. The 193-member General Assembly approved without a vote the decision by the U.N. credentials committee, which also deferred a decision on rival claims to Libya’s U.N. seat. The nine-member committee includes Russia, China and the United States. The postponement of decisions on Myanmar, Afghanistan and Libya leaves the current envoys in place. But the credentials committee said it could “revert to consideration of these credentials at a future time in the seventy-seventh session” of the General Assembly, which ends in September next year. (https://neuters.de/world/un-shelves-bid-by-afghan-taliban-myanmar-junta-representation-2022-12-16/) Competing claims were again made for the seats of Myanmar and Afghanistan with the Taliban administration and Myanmar’s junta pitted against envoys of the governments they ousted last year. U.N. acceptance of the Taliban administration or Myanmar’s junta would be a step toward the international recognition sought by both. A rival claim was also made this year for Libya’s U.N. seat – currently held by the Government of National Unity in Tripoli – by a “Government of National Stability” led by Fathi Bashagha and backed by a parliament in the country’s east.

Newsline: Afghan Taliban, Myanmar ambassadors not allowed into United Nations

A decision on whether the Afghan Taliban administration and the Myanmar junta can send a United Nations ambassador to New York has been postponed for a second time, but could be reconsidered in the next nine months, according to a U.N. credentials committee report. (https://neuters.de/world/afghan-taliban-administration-myanmar-junta-not-allowed-into-united-nations-now-2022-12-15/) The 193-member U.N. General Assembly is on Friday due to approve the report, which also deferred a decision on rival claims to Libya’s U.N. seat. The nine-member U.N. credentials committee includes Russia, China and the United States. The deferment of the decisions leaves the current envoys in the seats for their countries, diplomats said. Competing claims were again made for the seats of Myanmar and Afghanistan with the Taliban administration and Myanmar’s junta pitted against envoys of the governments they ousted last year. U.N. acceptance of the Taliban administration or Myanmar’s junta would be a step toward the international recognition sought by both. The U.N. General Assembly last year backed postponing a decision on the credentials of Myanmar and Afghanistan.

Newsline: UN rights council to focus on Iran

The UN Human Rights Council is holding an urgent meeting Thursday to discuss whether to launch a high-level international investigation into the deadly crackdown on mass protests rocking Iran. The special session on Iran’s “deteriorating human rights situation” is due to kick off at 10:00 am (0900 GMT) in Geneva, with the new UN rights chief Volker Turk set to open the proceedings in his first appearance before the council. (https://news.yahoo.com/iran-crackdown-spotlight-un-rights-064528438.html) The meeting, requested by Germany and Iceland with the backing of more than 50 countries, follows two months of protests in Iran sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, after she was arrested for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress rules for women based on Islamic sharia law.

Newsline: US climate envoy contracts COVID-19 as COP27 remains in deadlock

US climate envoy John Kerry has tested positive for COVID-19 at the United Nations climate talks in Egypt, where negotiators were desperately trying to break a deadlock over loss and damage funding for developing countries battered by weather disasters. Kerry’s illness has added worries to the negotiations, which were scheduled to end on Friday but have been continuing with no clear end in sight. “He is fully vaccinated and boosted and experiencing mild symptoms. He is working with his negotiations team and foreign counterparts by phone to ensure a successful outcome of COP27,” Kerry’s spokeswoman Whitney Smith wrote in a statement late on Friday. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/11/19/cop27-in-deadlock-as-us-envoy-john-kerry-contracts-covid-19) The talks at the COP27 summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh have stumbled on the controversial issue of “loss and damage” funding for less developed countries to deal with the effects of climate change. Loss and damage remains the main sticking point between rich and poor nations, particularly the issue of how to compensate countries that have already been ravaged by climate-driven floods, droughts, mega-storms and wildfires. Negotiations, at least those in public, hit a lull by Friday evening as press conferences and plenaries were postponed or cancelled. Diplomats said they hoped for late-night progress as they changed airline reservations for talks going into extended overtime on Saturday.

Newsline: China’s top climate diplomat calls on rich countries to support poor nations

China’s top climate envoy has called on wealthy nations to offer more support for developing countries that have the most to lose from climate change. His comments came at the start of the United Nations’ climate conference in Egypt, where delegates from nearly 200 countries are preparing to discuss issues including compensating poorer nations for damage linked to global warming in the next two weeks. “I hope the conference this time will meet the demands of developing countries as much as possible, as it is held in Egypt, a developing country,” said Xie Zhenhua, China’s special envoy for climate change. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/cop27-chinas-top-climate-envoy-093000602.html) He was speaking on Sunday at an event in China’s pavilion at the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh. Xie said he hopes this year’s summit can address the needs of developing countries in the areas of emissions reduction, financing, adaptation and capacity building, and that there will be progress in addressing their losses for damage caused by climate change.

Newsline: Thousands of global diplomats gather in Egypt to discuss climate change

The United Nations’ latest annual climate change conference, COP27, is set to kick off Monday at the luxurious resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, where thousands of leaders will engage in wide-ranging policy discussions. The conference comes one year after COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, where leaders from around the world, including nations with the highest emissions, signed a non-binding climate agreement resembling previous pacts. Shortly following the agreement, though, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres downplayed the agreement and paved the way for COP27. “It’s an important step, but it’s not enough,” he said at the time. “It’s time to go into emergency mode.” (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/cop27-thousands-global-diplomats-descend-ritzy-five-star-resort-egypt-solve-global-warming) Groups, including Greenpeace International, similarly criticized the agreement, calling it a “polite request.” Ahead of this year’s summit, which is scheduled to begin Monday and conclude on Nov. 18, high-ranking officials in the U.S. and other Western nations have reiterated the importance of solving global warming, which they characterized as the biggest threat facing humanity.

Newsline: Former world leaders say only diplomacy can solve world issues

Only dialogue and diplomacy can end the devastating war in Ukraine, say members of The Elders, a group of prominent former world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela. (https://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/nation/2022/11/05/global-statesmen-diplomacy-can-solve-world-issues/8271278001/) A total victory on the battlefield impossible for either warring party, they say.