Tag: United Nations

R.I.P. Kofi Annan, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Former United Nations Secretary General

Kofi Annan was awarded the Nobel peace prize for his humanitarian work with the UN. (Photograph: Allison Joyce/Reuters)

by Chris Johnston via theguardian.com

The former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, has died at the age of 80 after a short illness, his family and foundation announced on Saturday.

The Ghanaian was the seventh secretary general and served for two terms between 1997 and 2006. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work jointly with the UN as an organisation in 2001.

He died in hospital in Bern, Switzerland in the early hours of Saturday with his wife, Nane, and three children Ama, Kojo and Nina, by his side. He had retired to Geneva and later lived in a Swiss village.

Annan’s foundation issued a statement on his Twitter account on Saturday that described him as a “global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world.”

The statement added that Annan, who succeeded Boutros Boutros-Ghali as UN leader, was a “son of Ghana and felt a special responsibility towards Africa”.

The current UN secretary general, António Guterres, whom Annan appointed to lead its refugee agency, said: “In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organisation into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.”

The former UK prime minister Tony Blair said on Twitter that he was shocked and distressed by Annan’s death. “He was a good friend whom I saw only weeks ago. Kofi Annan was a great diplomat, a true statesman and a wonderful colleague who was widely respected and will be greatly missed. My deepest sympathy go to Nane and his family,” he said.

Annan was chair of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working for peace and human rights founded by Nelson Mandela. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former prime minister of Norway and the body’s deputy chair, said she and her colleagues were devastated by Annan’s death.

“Kofi was a strong and inspiring presence to us all, and The Elders would not be where it is today without his leadership. Throughout his life, Kofi worked unceasingly to improve the lives of millions of people around the world,” she said.

Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said the world had lost a great leader: “Kofi’s dedication and drive for a more peaceful and just world, his lifelong championing of human rights, and the dignity and grace with which he led will be sorely missed in a world which needs these characteristics more than ever.”

Continue reading “R.I.P. Kofi Annan, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Former United Nations Secretary General”

Hurricane Maria: Here’s How to Help Victims in the Ravaged Caribbean

RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/GETTY

by Jason Duaine Hahn via people.com

On early Wednesday, Hurricane Maria made landfall on the 100-mile-long island of Puerto Rico, causing such tremendous damage with its 155-mph winds that it knocked out power for all 3.5 million residents.

Maria killed at least nine people on Dominica before it moved to Puerto Rico, where it toppled trees, tore roofs from buildings, and damaged reservoirs and rivers that—along with heavy rain—have caused severe flooding.

Though the hurricane is expected to move toward the Dominican Republic late Wednesday, Puerto Rico and Dominica will feel the effects of the storm for a long time to come. This comes just two weeks after ferocious Hurricane Irma destroyed much of the U.S. Virgin Islands and killed three people in Puerto Rico.

If you’d like to help out in helping victims of the storm, here some verified organizations assisting in the efforts.

Unidos Por Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico First Lady Beatriz Rosselló helped to establish Unidos Por Puerto Rico to help victims of Maria on the island, and donations can be sent by way of their website.

HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/GETTY

Dominica Hurricane Relief Fund

Much of Dominica is in need of aid after Maria destroyed much of the small island. Officials say 70 to 80 percent of the island’s structures sustained storm damage, whether it be ripped-off roofs or complete destruction. Donations can be sent to the JustGiving page of the organization here.

ConPRmetidos

The nonprofit is based in Puerto Rico, and is accepting donations that will be first be used for the immediate needs of food, shelter and water, and later transitioned to long-term recovery efforts. You can donate to the organization here.

UNICEF

The United Nations fund is currently leading efforts to help young victims of both Irma and Maria, and the earthquake in Mexico. “We put children first in emergencies, committed to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable kids in the world,” the organization says. You can donate to them through their website.

GoFundMe

The fundraising website has collected a running list of dozens of pages that are collecting funds for hurricane relief in Dominica and Puerto Rico.

HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/GETTY

Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund

Started by a collection of Los Angeles-based groups connected to the Puerto Rican community, the Puerto Rican Hurricane Relief Fund will collect money until September 29, 2017, when they will pass the donations to nonprofits on the island.

To read more, go to: http://people.com/human-interest/hurricane-maria-heres-how-to-help-victims-in-the-ravaged-caribbean/

United Nations Panel Issues Report Stating U.S. Owes Black People Reparations

Verene Shepherd (right), a member of the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, in 2014
Verene Shepherd (right), a member of the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, in 2014. (EVERT ELZINGA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

article by Monique Judge via theroot.com

Colonial history, a legacy of enslavement and segregation are among the chief reasons reparations are owed to African Americans, according to a report put out by a United Nations group (pdf).

The U.N.’s Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, which reports to the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, presented its findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday, the Washington Post reports.

The panel, which visited the U.S. on a fact-finding mission in January, wrote in a statement that it was “extremely concerned about the human rights situation of African Americans,” stating that there has been no real commitment to reparations, truth and reconciliation for people of African descent.

Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another, continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today. The dangerous ideology of white supremacy inhibits social cohesion amongst the US population.

The panel likened the pattern of police officers killing unarmed black men to lynching, which it referred to as a form of “racial terrorism that has contributed to a legacy of racial inequality that the US must address.”

“Contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the racial terror lynching of the past. Impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” the panel wrote.

The panel also noted that African Americans are disproportionately affected by “tough on crime policies,” mass incarceration, and racial bias and disparities in the criminal-justice system.

During this country visit, the experts observed the excessive control and supervision targeting all levels of their life. This control since September 2001, has been reinforced by the introduction of the Patriot Act. We heard testimonies from African Americans based on their experience that people of African descent are treated by the State as a dangerous criminal group and face a presumption of guilt rather than innocence.

The panel laid out recommendations for the U.S. to assist in “its efforts to combat all forms of racism, racial discrimination, Afrophobia, and related intolerance,” which included the “profound need to acknowledge that the transatlantic slave trade was a crime against humanity.”

“Past injustices and crimes against African Americans need to be addressed with reparatory justice,” the panel wrote.

To read more, go to: http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2016/09/u-n-panel-says-the-u-s-owes-black-people-reparations/

Forest Whitaker Works on Training Youth and “Overwhelming the World with Good” Through the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative

UNOCHA
Forest Whitaker (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

Three days ago, the world celebrated its 34th International Day of Peace. Two days from now, leaders from around the globe will gather at the United Nations and pledge their commitment to 17 Sustainable Development Goals, among them, Goal 16, promoting peace and justice. This week, then, is a perfect occasion for us to reflect on a concept that we all strive toward but whose true meaning often escapes us.

We usually think and talk about peace as the absence of bad things. Peace is a lack of war. Peace is a lack of violence. But true peace isn’t just the absence of bad; it is the presence of good. Peace is people having their most-basic human needs met. Peace is people exchanging knowledge and ideas. Peace is people sharing an abiding and mutual respect. Peace is people working together toward a common goal.

On the surface, this might seem like a small, semantic distinction. But, in practice, the difference between a negative peace — the absence of bad — and a positive peace — the presence of good — carries enormous consequences.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of former child soldiers. I’ve seen firsthand that, for these young men and women who have been forced to commit some of the most brutal atrocities imaginable, it is not enough to simply remove the violence from their lives. We can take a young man out of an army, but unless we fill that void with something positive — with an education, a job, a community — he is not truly free. He is still a soldier at heart, and when the next conflict breaks out five or 10 years in the future, he will be among the first recruited back to the battlefield.

True peace isn’t just the absence of bad; it is the presence of good. – Forest Whitaker

For these children — and in the world around us — building a lasting peace requires not only that we end conflicts and violence, but that we build societies that allow all women and men to learn freely, to become active participants in their local economies, and, most importantly, to feel safe in their homes and villages.

This principle is especially relevant in South Sudan, a country that has been at the forefront of my thoughts recently. A few weeks ago, the South Sudanese government and rebel forces finally signed a peace agreement after a 20-month civil war that has resulted in an unbearable amount of human suffering — tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of approximately 2.2 million people. This peace agreement is an important step in the right direction, and all of us in the international community hope that both sides honor its terms. But even this cessation of violence is no guarantee of a true peace.

The agreement makes me optimistic that the people of South Sudan will soon have some relief from this terrible conflict, but what truly gives me hope for that nation’s future are the remarkable young women and men I’ve met and worked with there. I’ve spoken with youths at the protection-of-civilians camp in the capital city of Juba who, in spite of all they’ve been through, speak with such unwavering passion about working together to rebuild their country. I’ve met teachers who have told me how excited they are to finish their training and go back to their communities and help ensure that every child in South Sudan receives the education she or he deserves. I have seen women and men reaching across ethnic lines to warn others of danger and coming together to advocate for non-violence and reconciliation.

That is what true peace — a positive peace — entails. All of these young women and men have identified some need in their communities, and they have been working in whatever way they can, despite the violence, to fill that need. Their courage is an example for us all.

Continue reading “Forest Whitaker Works on Training Youth and “Overwhelming the World with Good” Through the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative”

Happy 54th Birthday, President Barack Obama!

barackbirthday

President Barack Obama marks his 54th birthday Tuesday with a busy schedule that covers United Nations policy, his vice president, entrepreneurship, and the Iran nuclear deal.

In the morning, Obama welcomes United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the Oval Office, with an agenda likely to range from Iran to climate change. The president addresses the U.N. General Assembly next month.

The president also holds his weekly lunch with Vice President Biden. This session holds special interest, coming in the wake of news reports that Biden will soon decide whether or not to seek the presidency in 2016.

In the afternoon, Obama hosts a first-time event: White House Demo Day, featuring entrepreneurs from across the country.

“Unlike a private-sector Demo Day, where entrepreneurs and startups pitch their ideas to funders, these innovators from around the country will ‘demo’ their individual stories,” says the White House schedule.

The president will view some of the demonstration exhibits and make remarks.

Obama ends the day by meeting with American Jewish community leaders to discuss the Iran nuclear deal.

It’s another part of an overall White House effort to promote the agreement in which the U.S. and allies reduce sanctions on Iran as it gives up the means to make nuclear weapons.

Congressional Republicans and some Jewish organizations oppose the deal, saying it gives Iran room to cheat and stressing Iranian threats against Israel.

Sometime along the way Tuesday, Obama will presumably celebrate his birthday. The president was born Aug. 4, 1961, in Hawaii.

article by David Jackson via usatoday.com

Baroness Valerie Amos Becomes 1st Black Woman to Lead a University in the United Kingdom

Baroness Valerie Amos (photo via flashpoints.wordpress.com)
Baroness Valerie Amos (photo via flashpoints.wordpress.com)

Baroness Valerie Amos has been named director of SOAS at the University of London. SOAS was founded in 1916 as the School of Oriental Studies and has since expanded its mission to also focus on Africa and the Middle East.

When she takes office in September, Baroness Amos will be the first Black woman to ever lead a university in the United Kingdom. Since 2010, Amos has served as undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the United Nations. Earlier in her career, Baroness Amos was the first black woman to sit in the British cabinet as Secretary of State for International Development. She became Leader of the House of Lords and served as the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner to Australia.

Born in Guyana, Amos earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Warwick and a master’s degree in cultural studies from the University of Birmingham. She was given the title of Baroness Amos of Brondesbury in 1997.

In accepting the post, Baroness Amos said: “With its vast repository of knowledge and expertise on its specialist regions, SOAS is uniquely placed to inform and shape current thinking about the religious, political, cultural, security and economic challenges of our world. There is an interrelated set of issues which need to be addressed to manage growing complexity and the contradictions of greater global connectivity and greater fragmentation. SOAS is a place where I can continue to grow and learn and use the skills, knowledge and experience I have gained over the years.”

article via jbhe.com

Beyoncé Travels to Haiti For United Nations Humanitarian Mission

Beyonce in HaitiBeyoncé recently traveled to Haiti in an effort to assist the United Nations on a humanitarian mission.

According to Vibe, with her organization BeyGood, Beyonce visited towns throughout the country to help with food, water and other imperative resources including medical attention from the UN doctors.

Haiti U.N. mission spokeswoman Sophie Boutaud de la Combe said Saturday that Beyonce made the visit to see what progress has been made since the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country.

De la Combe says the singer visited Haiti with Valerie Amos, undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator and that she was also able to “meet some of the people who were affected by it.”

Beyonce posted several pictures to her Instagram account documenting her trip to Haiti with a simple caption that reads, “Haiti. Humanitarian Mission with the UN.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how long Beyonce’s stop in Haiti was or exactly where she visited.

The country is still recovering from the 2010 tragedy that shattered Haiti’s capital and surrounding areas and claimed as many as 300,000 lives.

article by Dominique Hobdy via essence.com

United Nations Unveils Stunning Memorial in New York To Honor Millions Brutalized by Slave Trade

Unveiling of United Nations Slavery Memorial (Photo: UN.com)
Unveiling of United Nations Slavery Memorial (Photo: UN.org)

Visitors to the United Nations headquarters in New York will get a powerful reminder of the brutality of the transatlantic slave trade and its enormous impact on world history through a visually stunning new memorial that was unveiled last week in a solemn ceremony.

There were speeches intended to touch the emotionality of a system that operated for hundreds of years, killing an estimated 15 million African men, women and children and sending millions more into the jaws of a vicious system of plantation slavery in the Americas.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called slavery “a stain on human history.”

U.N. General Assembly President Sam Kutesa said slavery remained one of the “darkest and most abhorrent chapters” in world history.

It was only fitting that the ceremony take place at a site surrounded by the looming skyscrapers of New York. Slavery was the economic engine upon which American capitalism was built, providing the seed money for United States businesses to create the most vibrant economic system in the world. The enslaved Black person (whose gender is purposely vague to represent men, women and children) lying inside the dramatically shaped marble memorial, which is called The Ark of Return, is a symbol of the millions whose deaths led to the building of those skyscrapers, the visual emblems of American capitalism’s enormous financial windfall for the white beneficiaries of slavery and their descendants.

During his speech unveiling the memorial, Ban Ki-moon spoke directly to Black people in the Americas and the Caribbean who are descended from the enslaved Black people who were sacrificed.

Continue reading “United Nations Unveils Stunning Memorial in New York To Honor Millions Brutalized by Slave Trade”

Black Philanthropy Month 2013: How to Participate and Help Others This August

“Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”  -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In recent weeks, marches and rallies, town hall meetings and more have united people from all races to address inequities in the judicial system,change perceptions of black men and boys and address questions concerning why race remains a strong determinant in Americans’ pursuit of happiness.  This moment, which has involved calls for a boycott of Florida, in addition todemonstrations in dozens of cities, takes on even greater importance with the approach of the fiftieth anniversary of the historic March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” this August.

The convergence of these events and concerns for our nation’s future call for reflection on the state of the “dream” a half-century later, and urge action among citizens to tackle the most pressing challenges of the twenty-first century: mass incarceration, failures in education, and more.

How can we channel our collective energy and resources to transform our communities? Throughout August and beyond, you can help by contributing time, talent and treasure in observance of Black Philanthropy Month 2013.

Participate in Black Philanthropy Month 2013

Four leaders in the movement to advance black philanthropy, African Women’s Development Fund USA (www.usawdf.org), BlackGivesBack.com (www.blackgivesback.com), Community Investment Network (www.thecommunityinvestment.org) and the Giving Back Project (http://givingbackproject.org/) are launching Black Philanthropy Month 2013 (BPM 2013) on August 1 to bring together these threads of need to be met with productive purpose.

The BPM 2013 launch in August will kick off concerted efforts that will continue through a subsequent six-month multimedia campaign to foster civic engagement around philanthropy, amplify authentic stories of black philanthropy, cultivate the next generation of givers and expand opportunities for people of African descent to give through new and traditional channels, including giving circles, global giving, crowd funding, volunteerism and more.

Valaida Fullwood, strategist for the Giving Back Project and author of the award-winning book Giving Back:  A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists, shared her thoughts on the aftermath of the watershed events in 1963 that many will be commemorating this August. She also urges us to remember that, although much has changed, much is still needed to help others reach for the dreams and mountaintops King spoke of during that era.

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United Nations Joins Soccer Leaders to Rid Sport of Racism

AC Milan midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng, of Ghana, celebrates at the end of the Champions League round of 16, first leg soccer match against Barcelona, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. AC Milan won 2-0. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

AC Milan midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng, of Ghana, celebrates at the end of the Champions League round of 16, first leg soccer match against Barcelona, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. AC Milan won 2-0. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

GENEVA (AP) — The ugly side of the beautiful game was exposed Thursday as the U.N.’s top human rights official joined football officials and players in calling for an end to the “crime” of racism in sport.  U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the world is a long way from achieving that as evidence by a series of incidents including racist insults and chants, Nazi salutes, petitions against players and denial of hiring that are based on color or ethnicity and have no place in football or any other game.

“Sport, at its best, is inclusive, generous-hearted, and fundamentally multicultural, based on values such as teamwork, loyalty, merit and self-control,” Pillay told a crowded forum at the U.N.’s European headquarters in Geneva, where she was flanked by AC Milan player Kevin-Prince Boateng, former France captain Patrick Viera and several FIFA and European football officials.

Several officials said they were taking real action, not just paying lip service to the problem, through actions such a FIFA anti-racism task force.

Continue reading “United Nations Joins Soccer Leaders to Rid Sport of Racism”