NEWS NEWS NEWS

2017


14 April - UN Peacekeepers Day conference to tackle key issues

UN Peacekeepers Day conference to tackle key issues

The 15th annual conference to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, held in association with UNA-UK and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) will be held on 24 May, will be introduced by General Sir Gordon Messenger, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, Ministry of Defence.

The Folke Bernadotte Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Major General (Retd) Patrick Cammaert, former Force Commander of UNMEE and author of the Independent Special Investigation which occurred in Juba, South Sudan in 2016 and the UNMISS (South Sudan) response.

The opening session will tackle the dilemma between “Better Peacekeeping” or “People Centred” and ask what do these approaches mean and how can they be implemented. Hilde F. Johnson, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS (South Sudan) and Julian Harston, Former Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission MINURSO, Western Sahara, will share their views.

The afternoon session, the Margaret Anstee Memorial Seminar will tackle leadership and accountability and consider how to improve trust and credibility in a context of ongoing allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse and a perceived failure to protect. Nicola Dahrendorf, former Director and Senior Advisor on Sexual Abuse (SEA) & Chief of the MINUSCA Conduct and Discipline Team, Central African Republic, and Fred Carver, Head of Policy, UNA-UK will review progress in this field.

The registration fee is £24 (Students with ID, £12). Please click here to register for the conference.

The traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph will take place at 1.00pm, to include representatives of London’s diplomatic community. The UN Veterans Association (UK) will lead the parade and the Band of the Welsh Guards will provide musical support. Attendance is open to all.

12 April - UNA Westminster reviews current and recent policy statements

UNA Westminster reviews current and recent policy statements

UNA Westminster supports UNA-UK in all its campaigns, emphasising also its stance on current issues including:
Human Rights 
The UK should uphold the European Convention on Human Rights. Why?  
Nuclear Weapons 
The UK was wrong to stay away from the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons talks (Spring 2017)
The Responsibility to Protect
Follow us when our Young Professionals re-boot this debate shortly
Sustainable Development Goals 
We promote the role of youth in their promotion. See SDGs: from Promise to Practice 
Conservation and the Environment
We closely follow and support The Conservation Project, led by a member of the UNA Westminster Young Professionals

We have made 27 statements on various issues, all recorded as News items  
Overview
The defence of human rights 21/11/11, 27/11/12, 31/10/14, 16/09/16, 01/10/16
Pursuing transparency in the UN 03/12/14, 20/02/15
Tackling piracy in Somalia 05/01/12, 13/03/12, 13/04/16
The Libya crisis 23/02/11, 28/02/11, 17/03/11
The Gaza crisis 05/08/14,
The Syria tragedy 10/05/12
UN Peacekeeping 26/05/11, 27/09/15
Desecration of Muslim monuments 27/09/13, 26/07/14
Re-opening the inquiry into Dag Hammarskjöld’s death 02/07/11, 28/07/14, 12/10/14, 17/11/14, 01/06/15
Marking the Olympic Truce and its legacy 26/06/12, 10/07/13, 30/09/13

20 March - Young Professionals screen Before the Flood at L’ Escargot restaurant

Young Professionals screen Before the Flood at L’ Escargot restaurant

UNA Westminster Young Professionals screened the Fisher Stevens documentary Before the Flood featuring Leonardo DiCaprio before a capacity audience at the L’ Escargot restaurant on London’s Soho.
https://cdn.evbuc.com/images/29425960/4350459526/1/logo.jpg
Following the screening, Harry Wright, Co-Vice-Chair of the Young Professionals moderated a Q and A session with Paula Owen, founder and CEO of Green Gumption ; Joanna Haigh CBE: Co-Director of the Grantham Institute, Imperial College; and Georgina Shiplee, Sustainability Consultant at Corporate Citizenship.

26 February - Moving Stories; UNA members urged to support special fundraiser for UN Refugee Agency

Moving Stories; UNA members urged to support special fundraiser for UN Refugee Agency

Join fellow UNA members enjoy watching top names from the British stage coming together to help raise funds for UNHCR.  With work from Richard Bean, David Edgar, Phil Porter and more, Moving Stories will see a host of stars perform in aid of the current overwhelming global refugee crisis – the largest since the Second World War. Click here for information and tickets.

The afternoon will be hosted by Mel Giedroyc (The Great British Bake Off and Let It Shine) and will include performances from James Bolam (New Tricks, The Likely Lads), Rufus Hound (One Man, Two Guvnors, Celebrity Juice), Anna Jane Casey (Billy Elliot, Spamalot), Natalie Casey (Hollyoaks, Two Pints of Lager and A Packet of Crisps).

Since its creation in 1950, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has been providing essential protection and support to the millions of people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict, persecution or violence.

Over the last six decades, UNHCR has been on the ground fulfilling its mandate to safeguard the rights and wellbeing of refugees, ensuring that those who cannot seek protection from their own country can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another. Today, an unprecedented 59.5 million people are displaced around the world – of whom more than half are children. These are people whose lives have been shaped by war, fear and loss, but for whom UNHCR works hard to provide life-saving assistance, and crucially, hope for a better future.

20 February - Swimming Club film now released for public viewing

Swimming Club film now released for public viewing

The film The Swimming Club, winner of the 2015 annual #TweetaPitch competition and which received its world premiere at the 2016 We The Peoples Film Festival has now been released for public access viewing. “We are extraordinarily proud to have played an important part in the funding of this film” said David Wardrop, chairman of UNA Westminster which organises the We The Peoples Film Festival. “The Swimming Pool will serve as a valuable resource to all tackling prejudice on transgender issues, especially those in less tolerant societies. We will help the film’s directors reach out to all interested parties.”
The film focusses closely on the experience of swimming for transgender people, but in doing so, it obliquely looks at the broader subject of what it's like to be transgender in 2017.  It follows a group of transgender women in London who have set up a 'safe space' swimming club as they come together for their weekly swim. For some of the club’s older members, it had been 20 years since they had last felt brave enough to go for a swim.

The film’s joint directors, Cecilia Golding and Nick Finegan, recently commented on the challenges facing their film’s subjects, observing “Going swimming isn't easy when you’re transgender. In fact, simply being in a public space can be challenging for trans people. Changing rooms become daunting places, and revealing your body to a crowded pool might be the last thing you want to do.  So, for them, swimming is a brave act of resistance.”

14 February - UNA Westminster announces planned 6 day study tour to New York in June

UNA Westminster announces planned 6 day study tour to New York in June

The proposed study tour to the United Nations headquarters in New York will take place on 18-24 June 2017. We plan to hold briefings with several UN agencies and programmes and with other organisations based in New York. Also, we will meet the UK Mission to the UN and UNA Chapters in the city. If the UN calendar allows, we will seek to attend major UN meetings. On 23 June, we will lead an optional tour outside the city and on 24 June, we will visit Westport CT to join the UNA Connecticut Chapter (our twin) as it marks jUNe Day, traditionally attended by diplomats from many countries and UN staff.                      
Tour members will meet up at our chosen hotel in Manhattan on Sunday evening, 18 June. If you arrange your own accommodation, we can re-adjust costs accordingly. The target cost of £430 (sharing) and £760 (single). This covers accommodation for six nights, two dinners and return travel to Westport CT. It does not include air travel or meals other than indicated. Some travel bursaries of £100 will be available to UNA members under 35 who will be requested to submit a tour report.

Please register your interest at info@unawestminster.org.uk to receive updates.    

12 February - UNA Connecticut Chairman reports on visit to Moscow

UNA Connecticut Chairman reports on visit to Moscow

Joe Baxer, Chairman of the UNA Connecticut Chapter with which we are twinned reports here on his recent visit to Moscow. In noting the election of Donald Trump, he shares his anxiety that he and Mr Putin may overlook and denigrate the work done to allow Europe years of peace while creating a Yalta style agreement. “These are the times of crisis and opportunity.” he concludes. In March, Joe Baxer will next visit Oman, Qatar and Abu Dhabi and later Frankfurt at the invitation of the German UNA. 

8 February - UNA Westminster welcomes appointment of Chief Justice Othman to lead efforts to determine how Dag Hammarskjöld died

UNA Westminster welcomes appointment of Chief Justice Othman to lead efforts to determine how Dag Hammarskjöld died

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Tanzania's former Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman to review potential new information, including from South Africa, on the 1961 plane crash that killed U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld. This decision follows the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 23 December.

Chief Justice Othman is not new to this challenge. In 2015, he led the UN’s independent panel reviewing new information about the crash. The panel's report (News Item 20 July 2015) discounted claims that Hammarskjöld was assassinated after surviving the crash but pointed to new information about a possible aerial attack or interference.

UNA Westminster has closely followed developments on this issue since the publication of report of the Hammarskjöld Commission in 2013 and now hosts the Hammarskjöld Inquiry website
             

24 January - 2017 International Law lecture will question the health of international law

Professor Françoise Hampson has chosen the title "Should we be worried about the health of international law?" for the 14th Ruth Steinkraus-Cohan International Law lecture to be delivered on 7 March. To support her concerns, Professor Hampson will draw attention to certain states announcing their intention to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court; the use of torture by US and UK agents in Iraq and Afghanistan disregarded both human rights law and the law of armed conflict; and, in the UK, threats by the government to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights. The lecture is open to all and registration to attend can be made here. It is co-sponsored by the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS and the Bar Council of England and Wales. A reception will follow the Q & A session.

The notice of the meeting can be downloaded here.

18 January - UNA Westminster mourns death of UN Veterans chairman John Cooke

UNA Westminster mourns death of UN Veterans chairman John Cooke

UNA Westminster regrets to announce the death of John Cooke, founder Chairman of the UN Veterans Association of the UK (UNVA). John Cooke first served with the Irish Guards in the British army but on moving to Ireland joined the 36th battalion of the Irish army. In 1961, he was posted to the 38th battalion then deployed by the United Nations to Elizabethville in the Katanga province of the Republic of the Congo. The Congo crisis was then at its height and in late 1962, John Cooke’s unit sustained a three week long attack by Katanga’s mercenaries which ultimately failed. Later, he returned to London where he remained for the rest of his life.

For several years, Irish UN veterans living in London formed the London ‘post’ of the well-established Irish UNVA but in June 2011, an independent organisation was formed with John Cooke elected as Chairman. At the time, goodwill messages were received from UK government ministers Henry Bellingham and Andrew Robathan, retired generals Sir Michael Rose and Sir Rupert Smith and also Colonel Bob Stewart MP. (News Report 8 June 2011).

The UN veterans will again provide the colour guard at the traditional ceremony at the Cenotaph to mark the International Day of United Nations peacekeepers, to be held on 24 May at 1pm.

2016


29 December - Swedish-led Resolution on Dag Hammarskjöld adopted by UN General Assembly

Swedish-led Resolution on Dag Hammarskjöld adopted by UN General Assembly

The UN General Assembly has adopted the Swedish resolution requesting the appointment of an eminent person to review and assess any new information that might throw light on the plane crash that killed Dag Hammarskjöld and his colleagues. The adoption of the resolution, co-sponsored by eighty-five Member States, followed the decision of the UN’s 5th Committee which advises on administrative and budgetary questions to allocate US$326,300 for its implementation.

The search for and appointment of the required ‘eminent person’ will now commence. “This development shows that the UN under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remains determined to pursue the principle of transparency in this matter.” said David Wardrop, Chairman of the United Nations Association Westminster Branch. “An African choice for the role of ‘eminent person’ would be admirable. Dag Hammarskjöld’s flight to Ndola was so closely linked to the bitterly resisted decolonisation process, the injustices of that period still resonate today.”

For UNA Westminster’s role in this process, visit HammarskjöldInquiry.info

5 December - Still shortcomings in UK race strategy, say human rights experts

Still shortcomings in UK race strategy, say human rights experts

UNA Westminster’s branch meeting titled ‘The UK response to the UN’s race audit: blueprint for change or empty promises, to gather dust until the next submission to the UN in 2021?’, chaired by Lord Ouseley, followed up that held in 2014 when Westminster UNA reviewed the UK’s progress in implementing recommendations made in the 2011 audit conducted by the Committee for the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). That report had criticised the UK for its treatment of gypsies and Irish travellers and its record on the disproportionate use of ‘stop and search’ powers.

The CERD Committee’s Periodic Review for the UK, published 29 August, had expressed concern on funding cuts to the Equality and Human rights Commission (EHRC) and the dilution of its powers and noted with alarm the sharp rise in race hate crime during the recent EU referendum campaign.
A key CERD recommendation urged the UK to develop a race strategy. Also, the EHRC had called on the Government to take urgent steps to tackle deep-seated racial inequality or risk societal disintegration. It proposed tough new race targets covering criminal justice, education and employment. Concerns for the state of UK race relations had been supported by its own research which evidences painfully slow progress and disproportionate outcomes in the life chances of black and minority ethnic people.

Upon becoming Prime Minister, Theresa May had committed the Government to an audit of public services to identify and tackle racial disparities and injustice. But many asked whether this indicated that ‘Race’ was back on the UK policy agenda after a prolonged period on the side-lines?  
Andrea Murray, Human Rights and Research Director, Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC), stressed the Commission’s role as one of the UK’s three ‘A’ status National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) and its place in the CERD examination process. This matter had taken on extra relevance following the race hate spike following the Brexit referendum and had been addressed in the report Healing a divided Britain published in August. This document and the call for a race equality strategy was an example of UK civil society at work. She heralded the publication of a new shadow report on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and drew attention to the Commission’s work on Gypsies and travellers and on the government’s Prevent Strategy. Finally, notwithstanding the reduction of 25% in the Commission’s annual grant, staff were determined to pursue their remit, submitting commentaries on key government policies and noted that while the next UPR is some years away, the issues to which refers remain priorities.

Barbara Cohen, Runnymede Trust, outlined the manner in which UK civil society had made the submission of a widely supported Shadow Report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) regarding the UK Government’s Periodic Reports. This included reference to the UN body’s ‘special measures which had highlighted weaknesses in the UK government’s performance (hate crimes, gypsies and travellers and the Prevent strategy). She noted the start of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) but awaited clarity from government on what strategy might address this. She drew attention to the vision in the original UK Race Relations Act (1965) and regretted that, in her opinion, such clarity and courage are not shown today.

Ian Naysmith, Senior Policy Adviser in the Integration and Faith Division at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) spoke of the devolvement of responsibilities in this field throughout central government, to the devolved administrations and also overseas territories. Policy when collated must be presented to Ministers before and after sharing with the EHRC. He shared with the audience the environment in which governments and NGOs present their respective cases in Geneva to a panel comprising experts from Ireland, Jamaica and Turkey. NGOs may comment also and in August 2017, the UK must return to the UN’s Human Rights Council to present its case on gypsies and travellers and on the Prevent strategy.

The meeting ended with a lively Question and Answer session, covering mental health, the empowerment of women, and the delicate balance between freedom of speech and the dangers of hate speech.  

15 November - 11th We The Peoples Film Festival records its 1000th registration

11th We The Peoples Film Festival records its 1000th registration

More than one thousand registrations have been made to attend screenings during the festival. “We are delighted we will have given many, many people the opportunity to see films chosen from over 1500 submitted from 70 countries. Our festival is unique in Europe and we look forward to next year with enthusiasm!” said David Wardrop, Chairman. The We The Peoples Film Festival is a project of UNA Westminster. 

13 November - Documentary on Uganda genocide wins Best Film in Festival award

Documentary on Uganda genocide wins Best Film in Festival award

The Best Film in Festival award in 2016 has been awarded to A Brilliant Genocide, a film by Ebony Butler. The film sets out to be a counterpoint to Kony 2012 which brought worldwide awareness to the crimes committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and neighbouring countries. It shows how the government of President Museveni has used Kony as a straw man, enabling it to garner international sympathy and resources in the supposed “war on terrorism” while in fact diverting attention from its own crimes against humanity. The film shows its efforts to wipe out a significant part of Uganda’s Acholi people, using interviews with survivors of the most pre meditated torture and murder like no other in Uganda’s history.

The Best Film in Category awards were hotly contested between the forty films screened during the 2016 Film Festival. The Judging committee comprising Sophia Dembitzer, Bethany Ward, Karin Pointner, Isabella Qin and David Wardrop agreed on the following awards.

Human Rights - A Brilliant Genocide
Human Security - When you hear the bells
Development - K2 and the invisible footmen
Environment - Moving Forest
Short Film - This is not a Pizza Order  
             
 
Nick Finegan and Cecilia Golding, winners of the festival’s 2015 #Tweeterpitch competition, have now premiered their film The Swimming Club at NFT2 at the BFI Southbank in front of a large, enthusiastic young audience. The film follows members of a transgender swimming club who have managed to find a ‘safe space’, a municipal swimming pool where, free from the stares of the public, they can relax, talk and swim.  

The premiere was attended by members of Tag Support CIC and other members of the transgender community. “We are delighted to have kick-started this important film,” said David Wardrop, Chairman, UNA Westminster. “We will now inform our international contacts, within the United Nations family and beyond, that we all have a valuable asset that can greatly help to improve understanding of the special challenges of others.” Nick Finegan and Cecilia Golding will now embark on a crowdfunding project to raise the profile of the film and the issues it tackles.

2 November - UNA Westminster meeting to review government’s response to UN audit on race, 5 December

UNA Westminster meeting to review government’s response to UN audit on race, 5 December

Speakers at our meeting in the House of Lords on 5 December (6.30pm) titled ‘The UK response to the UN’s race audit: blueprint for change or empty promises, to gather dust until the next submission to the UN in 2021?’ will be Barbara Cohen, Runnymede Trust, Andrea Murray, Equality & Human Rights Commission and Ian Naysmith, Department for Communities and Local Government. The meeting will be chaired by Lord Ouseley, former chair and chief executive of the Commission for Racial Equality from 1993 to 2000.    
All are welcome but please register here
For A4 Notice (pdf) click here.

Background: The meeting follows up that in 2014 when Westminster UNA reviewed the UK’s progress in implementing recommendations made in the 2011 audit conducted by the Committee for the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). That report had criticised the UK for its treatment of gypsies and Irish travellers and its record on the disproportionate use of ‘stop and search’ powers.
The CERD Committee’s recent Periodic Review for the UK, published 29 August, has expressed concern on funding cuts to the Equality and Human rights Commission (EHRC) and the dilution of its powers and noted with alarm the sharp rise in race hate crime during the recent EU referendum campaign.
A key CERD recommendation urged the UK to develop a race strategy. Also, the EHRC has called on the Government to take urgent steps to tackle deep-seated racial inequality or risk societal disintegration. It proposes tough new race targets covering criminal justice, education and employment. Concerns for the state of UK race relations are supported by its own research which evidences painfully slow progress and disproportionate outcomes in the life chances of black and minority ethnic people.
Now, upon becoming Prime Minister, Theresa May has committed the Government to an audit of public services to identify and tackle racial disparities and injustice. But does this indicate that ‘Race’ is back on the UK policy agenda after a prolonged period on the side-lines? What has triggered this renewed interest? Is the UN Treaty Monitoring process starting to pay dividends? 
Our panel of experts will review the UN Report, assess prospects for action to tackle racial inequality, and discuss where action by Government and the EHRC is most needed and will have greatest impact.

1 November - Former UNA Westminster Chairman publishes book on practical politics

Former UNA Westminster Chairman publishes book on practical politics

Former chairman of Westminster UNA, Titus Alexander, has published Practical Politics: Lessons on Power and Democracy, which sets out to cover all levels of politics, from the office and neighbourhood to global governance. It argues that people need to be able to learn practical politics to solve problems of all kinds, from child abuse to climate change, conflict and population.
David Wardrop, current chairman of UNA Westminster, writes “Titus Alexander takes such a refreshing step in his book ‘Practical Politics, Lessons in Power and politics’, telling us it is ‘written for my son’s generation, the billion-plus people born since 2000’. I am sure they will welcome it as attempts to revive dull and dated ‘civics’ in schools have had little impact. The last major effort in this direction, by Professor Bernard Crick, became smothered by an increasingly overcrowded school curriculum. It is time to reflect on and learn from that loss. Titus Alexander makes simple statements but he comprehensively backs these up with well-researched data which will reassure any sceptical reader. This is the style of book that should populate school bookshelves and then be read. Then that generation which Titus Alexander targets might well see that ‘world of peace and prosperity’ that his own and earlier generations have so signally failed to deliver.”
As chairman of UNA Westminster in 1998, Titus initiated Charter 99, which greatly influenced the UN Millennium Summit and government policy on accountability of global institutions.
The book is available in bookshops and c. £22 at Amazon here

4 October - Francoise Hampson to deliver 15th Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law Lecture

Francoise Hampson to deliver 15th Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law Lecture

On 7 March 2017, Emeritus Professor Francoise Hampson of the School of Law at the University of Essex will give next year’s International Law Lecture at the Brunei Theatre at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Professor Hampson was an independent expert member of the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights from 1998-2007 and acted as a consultant on humanitarian law to the International Committee of the Red Cross. She has successfully litigated many cases before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and, in recognition of her contribution to the development of law in this area, was awarded Human Rights Lawyer of the Year jointly with her colleague from the Centre, the late Professor Kevin Boyle. 
This annual lecture is held in association with the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS and the Bar Council of England and Wales. 
http://www.eui.eu/Images/AEL/2015SummerCoursesFaculty/Hampson.jpg

1 October - UNA Westminster joins other London groups to support the new London Declaration

UNA Westminster joins other London groups to support the new London Declaration

UNA Westminster joined the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and other members of the London Boroughs Faith Network at a Faith and Community Assembly at Southwark Cathedral to sign up to a new London Declaration. The Assembly was organised by the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt. Revd Christopher Chessun following concerns shown by pupils in local schools following the referendum result and the increased incidence of inter-community tension. 
The Declaration states:
1 We pledge our determination as Londoners to ensure that this great city shall continue to be a place of welcome, generosity and equality, with respect for all.
2 We condemn and oppose prejudice and distrust and will work unceasingly for tolerance and the common good.
3 We abhor all examples of exclusion based on ethnic identity that mar relationships between neighbours of all ages, faiths and backgrounds.
4 We stand in solidarity with those in London who are mistreated or held in contempt because of who they are or where they have come from.
5 We affirm that our diversity is a source of strength and that we are committed to learning from one another.
6 We commit to living out the declaration in our own lives, in our teaching and preaching and in our community engagement.  
 

28 September - UNA Westminster moves Hammarskjöld Inquiry news pages to new URL

UNA Westminster moves Hammarskjöld Inquiry news pages to new URL

UNA Westminster has created a new website for its News Pages which report progress on the UN’s continuing efforts to seek the truth behind the plane crash in 1961 killing UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and fifteen others. The Hammarskjöld Inquiry website is now the most authoritative source of information on current developments and has been added to the Dag Hammarskjöld Timeline posted by the Hammarskjöld Library at the United Nations. 
   

22 September - UNA Westminster marks UN International Day of Peace

UNA Westminster marks UN International Day of Peace

UNA Westminster joined other members of the London Boroughs Faith Network at St. Martin in the Field’s church to preview a short film stressing that London’s faith buildings (churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and other faith buildings) would be open to all visitors over the following weekend. The film which comprises a sequence of about forty doors of faith building opening to all will now be launched during Inter Faith Week (13-20 November). UNA Westminster hopes that the film will be screened during the We The Peoples Film Festival (7-21 November).
 
UNA Westminster’s close involvement with the London Boroughs Faith Network dates back to 2012 when it coordinated events to mark the Olympic Truce linking these with the work of the United Nations. See News Items of 26 June, 7 August and 16 August (all in 2012).

16 September - UNA Westminster Young Professionals contribute to new Human Rights Report

UNA Westminster Young Professionals contribute to new Human Rights Report

The UNA Westminster Young Professionals group has participated in the year-long programme initiated by the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) to produce a Joint Civil Society Report for submission to the United Nations as part of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UK. The document will be presented when the UN Human Rights Commission embarks on the second cycle of the UPR which studies the human rights situation of all UN Member States every 4.5 years. The UK was one of the first 42 UN Member States to be reviewed.

The BIHR Report covers domestic human rights protections such as women’s rights; children’s rights; poverty, welfare and adequate standard of living; criminal justice; counter terrorism; racism and hate crime; Immigration, asylum and trafficking; prisons; additional equality and non-discrimination issues; and access to justice.
The Report stresses the need for government guarantees that it will build upon the Human Rights Act (HRA), rather than amending or repealing it via a new Bill of Rights. It argues that refusal to give such a guarantee should be recognised as an indication that there is a significant risk of the human rights framework in the UK being eroded. UNA-UK has also published an excellent submission here.
UNA Westminster is one of many civil society organisations which is deeply sceptical about the prospects, in the current political climate, for a new bill of rights to improve human rights protections in the UK. Notwithstanding this, if improvement is intended this can be done without repeal of the HRA, focusing on better implementation of current protections.
UNA Westminster especially welcomes the BIHR Report as it successfully moved a resolution in the 2009 UNA Annual Conference proposing that ‘a group of NGOs assist in monitoring the UK’s performance and agree an annual report. “The success and wide support for the BIHR initiative is excellent” said David Wardrop, UNA Westminster Chairman, “and we thank Isabella Qin and Mafalda Damosa of our Young Professionals group in their work on this project. UNA Westminster will be examining the recently published audit conducted by the Committee for the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

29 June - The UN's drugs policy; right at last or so, so wrong?

The UNA Westminster branch meeting followed the ‘UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem’ (UNGASS) which had been triggered by an accelerated review process prior to the formal review conference in 2019. It was chaired by Baroness Meacher, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, who hailed the UNGASS as a ‘moment of transformation’, seeing it as the moment when the UN had turned its back on the concept of a ‘war on drugs’.   

HE Mr Nestor Osorio, Ambassador of Colombia, referred to his country’s painful experience as an unwilling source of coca, controlled by local mafia groups and the subsequent recognition for a coordinated approach. This was taken by president Santos and the presidents of neighbouring states. He spoke about valuable guidance documentation from the LSE in London which managed to prompt international debate, despite opposition from Russia and China. The emphasis on moving this debate into the human rights field, citing health priorities - the drug user is a patient, not a delinquent - was a key move.  He feels confident that the summit in 2019 will be successful, the necessary ‘transition’ to which Baroness Meacher referred being progressed. We should concentrate on the real enemies, the traffickers, the money launderers and the dealers in chemical precursors.

Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, stated that the UN’s general policy of prohibition has put the drugs trade in the hands of criminals and led to suffering for millions. UNGASS sought to change that but only with limited success. The war on drugs will become the war on drug abuse, a small but significant shift. He praised the submissions to UNGASS made by fifteen UN agencies but reflected that traditional schisms between member states showed up, preventing, for instance, indicators making it into the Outcome Document.    

Anne-Marie Cockburn, whose daughter Martha had died of an accidental ecstasy overdose, movingly recounted the effect of this tragedy on both family and friends. Now Anne-Marie works with the awareness charity Anyone's Child where her full story is reported. She described her visits to schools and prisons.

Chris Ford, Clinical Director of International Doctors for Healthier Drugs Policies, reported on her impressions of the UNGASS which was less optimistic than that of ambassador Osorio.

A wide-ranging Question and Answer session followed, covering points from the aggressive and selfish high-level politicking between UN Member States to the continuing challenges in prison education, racial stereotyping of addicts and inconsistently presented government guidance.

The meeting is the first to tackle this issue for ten years. UNA members present noted that, even though UNGASS, albeit not its formal outcome document, shows clear advances, these have been less impressive than members would have hoped. 

19 April - UNA Westminster Young Professionals to release paper on the Responsibility to Protect

UNA Westminster Young Professionals and Liberal International organised a round table discussion in the House of Lords to review the effectiveness and relevance of the Right to Protect (R2P) concept to the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.

The meeting was addressed by Lord Alderdice, President, Liberal International; Lord Hannay, Chairman, UN All Party Parliamentary Group; Kate Ferguson, Protection Approaches; and Leisha Beardmore, Chair, UNA Westminster Young Professionals  Each offered different viewpoints to the challenges faced by states and individual citizens alike. 

The Westminster Young Professionals stated that their aim was to re-ignite the R2P debate in the UK, raising public awareness and knowledge on the topic and to assist it gather sufficient momentum to generate a debate in parliament in 2016. Later this year, the Westminster Young Professionals will release a follow-up paper setting out their position on R2P and its applicability to the refugee crisis. This will be first released on the Young Professionals blog and Twitter account.

15 April - UNA Westminster Film Festival award winner helps Syrian refugee teenagers make films using their mobile phones

UNA Westminster Film Festival award winner helps Syrian refugee teenagers make films using their mobile phones

15 April 2016 Faisal Attrache, Director of Growing Home, which won UNA Westminster’s We The Peoples Film Festival award for a film on Human Security last year, has now taken the project further in association with Save the Children.
The original film featured the daily life of a Syrian barber struggling to maintain normality in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. The new project features instruction of the camp’s refugee teenagers on how to make documentary films using their mobile phones. Faisal’s three week workshop culminated in the creation of nine short films shot entirely by the Za’atari teenagers. Students from McNally Smith College of Music in Minnesota have now composed original music for each film resulting in 44 minute compilation film depicting life in the Za’atari camp through the teenagers’ own eyes. The film “My Dream, My Right" will soon be available and some of the films can be viewed here
The 2016 We The Peoples Film Festival will be held in November and currently, the First Stage judging team is assessing the 2500+ films already submitted. These will be shortlisted to about 200 from which about forty will be screened in the festival.
Visit the We The Peoples Film Festival website for all new information on the 11th festival.

13 April - UNA Westminster advising Somalia on hosting coastal community revival plan

UNA Westminster advising Somalia on hosting coastal community revival plan

13 April 2016 UNA Westminster will be advising World G18 Somalia, the leading non-clan UK Somali diaspora group, as it prepares to host a major meeting in the summer to address the special challenges facing Somalia’s coastal communities. The meeting will update participants on current efforts to revive the traditional fishing and coastal communities of Somalia. Many of these have witnessed loss of population, caused by piracy, lack of investment, poor education and health facilities, poor road connections and the rival attractions of inland cities.
UNA Westminster and World G18 Somalia believe the international community has continually failed to create a credible policy for reviving Somalia’s coastal communities. “In 2012, the responsible UK government minister Henry Bellingham stated the government would to commit £2M to community engagement and economic development projects in coastal regions” said David Wardrop, Chair, UNA Westminster Branch, “We tracked this and discovered it had been allocated to the UNDP’s Joint Programme on Local Governance which, while a worthwhile project, had only a minimal part relating to coastal activities.”   
Surveys undertaken by World G18 Somalia for its ‘Six Villages project’ covering Las Quoray, Hiis, Eyl, Garacad, Hobbio and Lughaya indicate clearly the shortcomings in international support for these coastal communities and the degree of assistance needed.
Currently, there are several projects being undertaken about which the UK Somali diaspora will wish to learn more about. These industry-supported initiatives provide an opportunity to foster greater synergies and momentum. They include
• Norwegian Church Aid: supported by Norwegian Ship owners’ Association and Den Norske
Krigsforsikring for Skib
• Save the Children: supported by Danish Ship owners’ Association & individual companies
• Somali Fair Fishing: supported by 20+ companies and foundations
• UNDP Alternative Livelihood Project: funded by 7 shipping companies under the Joint
Industry Contribution to Support Community Projects in Somalia
• Oceans Beyond Piracy - Port Development Pilot Project: Berbera
Also, the UN FAO initiative to deploy Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) along the Somali coast supervised by EUROMARFOR.
A scoping meeting will be held in London on 7 May to be attended by diaspora groups linked to coastal villages, principally the six villages of Las Quoray, Hiis, Eyl, Garacad, Hobbio and Lughaya.

31 March - UNA Westminster co-hosts seminar ‘A Solemn Duty’: Dag Hammarskjold and Conflict in the Congo’ held at the School of Advanced Study, University of London

UNA Westminster co-hosts seminar ‘A Solemn Duty’: Dag Hammarskjold and Conflict in the Congo’ held at the School of Advanced Study, University of London

21 March 2016 At the meeting with its title referencing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki moon’s declared commitment following the findings of a UN panel of experts, speakers updated the audience on his continuing efforts to uncover all available information on the fatal crash of the plane carrying his predecessor in 1961.
In opening the meeting, David Wardrop, Chairman of the United Nations Association Westminster Branch, chronicled the collective efforts by individuals worldwide in raising international awareness of the issue. This pressure encouraged the UN General Assembly to unanimously adopt two Resolutions which successfully triggered firstly the appointment of the UN Panel charged to examine existing information and secondly to support the Secretary-General pursue the matter. These efforts are fully reported in the news pages of this website.  
Professor Henning Melber, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, and Director Emeritus of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, explained how Hammarskjöld’s commitment to global governance, social justice and international solidarity was guided by strong personal integrity and solid values. “Despite his failures and setbacks, his brand of diplomacy offers important lessons for mediators today”, Professor Melber stated. He reminded the audience that Hammarskjöld had been widely praised for the UN’s role in the Suez crisis of 1956 but that the Congo crisis, resulting in the largest UN peace operation to date and continuing today, presented different challenges. He quoted one observer ‘the Congo was simultaneously a hotbed of inter-African intrigue, a playground for the superpowers and a turning point in the decolonization process.’ Professor Melber explained how Hammarskjöld tackled his mediation task against this background, concluding that as the world’s highest international civil servant to assume global leadership, he set standards that have lost none of their value and relevance. Professor Melber’s paper Dag Hammarskjöld and Conflict Mediation (February 2016) covers his address more fully.
Dr Roger Lipsey, author of Hammarskjöld: A Life, introduced his audience to Dag Hammarskjöld’s ethic, revealed in four key aspects. These were his conscious self-scrutiny (of himself); mobile awareness and empathy (in diplomatic and public life); facing facts, total engagement and selfless service. Dr Lipsey illustrated each of these aspects of Hammarskjöld’s ethic with excerpts from his book Markings. These included ‘You can only hope to find a lasting solution to a conflict if you have learned to see the other objectively, but, at the same time, to experience his difficulties subjectively’ written in 1955. In this and other passages, one can follow more clearly the manner of Hammarskjöld’s mission in the Congo.

    Dr Lipsey, Professor Melber and David Wardrop
A lively discussion followed in which the speakers and members of the audience congratulated Ban Ki moon on his determination to ‘establish the truth of what happened on that fateful night’ but noted that despite the supportive General Assembly Resolution (19 November 2015), his term of office runs out this year. So what might his successor do? Mr Wardrop referred to the 1 for 7 Billion Campaign comprising 750 organisations and 170 million supporters worldwide, committed to getting the best Secretary-General to follow Ban Ki moon. Through this campaign, the candidates are identified and the UN has made it possible to pose them questions. Mr Wardrop told the audience he hoped that his own question “Ban Ki moon has shown great courage in pursuing the truth on Dag Hammarskjöld’s death. Although supported by most Member States, some powerful states are being slow to release relevant information. Will you guarantee to continue his courageous work?” might be among the thirty to be short-listed in April. Audience contributions included those currently researching contemporary papers deposited in the UK national archives and journalists covering Sweden and African issues. In conclusion, the speakers urged the audience to follow news reports on these pages.  
The event was jointly organised by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London and the United Nations Association Westminster Branch.

10 January - UNA Westminster joins service to mark 70th anniversary of the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in London in 1946

UNA Westminster joins service to mark 70th anniversary of the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in London in 1946

To mark the first meeting of the UN General Assembly held in Methodist Central Hall Westminster on 10 January 1946, UNA Westminster worked closely with Superintendent Minister Revd Dr Martyn Atkins and his deputy, Revd Tony Miles, to create a service in the same location, worthy of this important anniversary. Members of the UN Veterans Association paraded the UN flag which the Revd Tony Miles later used to explain the significance of its design to the many children present. During the service, he interviewed former diplomat Sir Peter Marshall who had seen service at the UN in both New York and Geneva. They discussed the origins of the text of the Preamble to the UN Charter and the increasingly important role of the organisation. Sir Peter stated he considers the UN to be the greatest experiment in international cooperation the world has ever seen. Their discussion covered from the UN’s earliest days when its founding nations chose London to host the inaugural meeting although it was a war-torn, bomb scarred, threadbare city at the time, and up to the organisation’s current form which is multi-polar, stretching beyond New York, to Geneva and Vienna and many other cities. “The UN has changed international relations from the zero-sum game of classical diplomacy to the positive-sum diplomacy of the modern world. The benefit to humankind has been enormous” Sir Peter stated.

The two Lessons were read by members of the UNA Westminster Committee, Kishan Manocha, now Senior Adviser on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and David Wardrop, Chairman of UNA Westminster Branch. In his sermon, the Revd Miles referred to the recent birth of his first grandchild when asking his listeners to imagine the world in which she would grow up.  He reminded them that, to make it possible for London to host the inaugural UN meeting, Mr Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary, had asked the Methodist community to ‘leave their building’ for a period of some months and the continuing sense of pride that Methodists still have in this important link with the United Nations today. The service ended with an Act of Resolve using text based on the preamble to the UN Charter.

More than two hundred members of the United Nations Association responded to the invitation to attend the service, joining the regular Sunday service congregation. “We feel privileged to have played a part in this important anniversary” said David Wardrop, “and re- committing ourselves to working together for a better world.”
(Photo: from left, Lord Bates, Sir Peter Marshall, Kishan Manocha and David Wardrop)

6 January - Former British diplomat Sir Peter Marshall reviews the UN’s first seventy years

Former British diplomat Sir Peter Marshall reviews the UN’s first seventy years

As we approach the seventieth anniversary of the first meeting of the UN General Assembly, held in Central Hall Westminster on 10 January 1946, UNA Westminster has invited Sir Peter Marshall who served the UK at the UN in New York and Geneva to comment on the UN’s performance in its first seventy years and also to share his views on the UK’s record at the UN and in other international organisations.

In his summary, Sir Peter remarks that “it was symbolic of the crucial part played by the UK, both in the Allied victory during World War II and in securing the peace in its aftermath, that the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council should hold their first ever meetings in bomb-scarred London starting on January 10, 1946.”

He concludes that “The United Nations has decisively shown not only its worth but its indispensability. In the past seventy years, it has coped with a quadrupling of the membership and a vast increase in the volume and complexity of the business which it transacts. It has also helped manage the transition of our collective habitat from World Economy to Global Village. Continued strong UK support for the UN and deep involvement in its activities are essential to the promotion of British interests as well as to the maintenance of a secure and prosperous world.”

Sir Peter Marshall, KCMG, CVO, joined the UK Diplomatic Service in 1949, rising to Economic Under-Secretary in the FCO and then Deputy for Economic and Social Affairs. He then joined the UK Permanent Mission to the UN in New York and later served as UK Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva (1979-83). He also served as Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General (1983-88).
He was Chairman of the Commonwealth Trust and Royal Commonwealth Society (1988-92) and Chairman of the Joint Commonwealth Societies Council (1993-2003). His book Public Diplomacy (Macmillan) was published in 1997.

The full text of Sir Peter’s review can be read here.    


2015

29 November - We The Peoples Film Festival ends two week screening programme

We The Peoples Film Festival ends two week screening programme

Lights of Soho, London’s newest art gallery and member’s lounge, played host to the final screening in the 2015 We The PeoplesFilm Festival. In all, forty films were screened in ten venues, including universities and pubs. Hundreds of reservations led to some cases of ‘standing room only’ but no complaints! The Festival’s assessors viewed hundreds of films submitted from round the world, seeking films which fitted with the strict criteria of the festival. Once again, volunteers studying Events Management with the Ashdown Academy curated all aspects of all the screenings, from internet logistics, host liaison and hospitality down to the last carton of free popcorn!

The 2015 Festival says goodbye to Vivienne Eka who has steered it over the last few years. “We are so grateful to Vivienne who has been the human face of We The Peoples for so long”, said David Wardrop, Chairman of UNA Westminster branch which set up the festival in 2004. “Even so, we are delighted she will continue as Honorary Secretary of the branch”.     

24 November - Baroness Cox updates UNA members on her missions in conflict zones

Baroness Cox updates UNA members on her missions in conflict zones

Baroness Cox of Queensbury, one of UNA Westminster’s Joint Presidents, titled her address to the branch’s Annual General Meeting “The Pain and the Passion: The Privilege of making a difference through local partners on front lines of freedom around the world”.

Baroness Cox is the founder of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) which combines aid with advocacy working with communities in active conflict zones. These include Burma, Nigeria, South Sudan and Sudan, post-conflict areas still devastated by war like Nagorno-Karabakh, northern Uganda and Timor Leste and also areas where people are marginalised, oppressed and exploited for cultural, political and economic reasons such as the Dalits and Temple Prostitutes in India. Baroness Cox supported her address with an informative series of images from Burma, South Sudan and northern Nigeria, all relating to her own missions in these conflict zones, allowing her to obtain first hand evidence of the human rights violations and humanitarian needs.

David Wardrop, Chairman, confirmed that the branch website’s homepage would now link to HART through NGO Initiatives in Working for a Better World. 

Earlier, the meeting adopted the Annual Report and Accounts for the Year ending 31 March 2015 and elected the incoming officers and executive committees as posted under Who We Are and also welcomed the appointments of the UNA Westminster Young Professionals committee, also posted.  

21 November - The Swimming Club wins £500 We The Peoples Film Festival #TweetAPitch

The Swimming Club wins £500 We The Peoples Film Festival #TweetAPitch

Highlight of the We The Peoples Film Festival Young Film Makers Day at the BFI, was the #TweetAPitch final featuring eight contestants whittled down from thirty eight original entrants. Each contestant  made a two minute pitch to the judges panel which comprised John Glen, director of five James Bond films, Jade Jackman, #TweetAPitch winner in 2014 and noted film-maker Esteban Uyarra.  

The Swimming Club will be a 10 minute film , co-produced and co-directed by Nick Finegan and Cecilia Golding who made the pitch. It will follow London’s only ‘trans’ swimming club, TAGS (Trans And Gender-non-conforming Swimmers), an inspiring group of individuals who struggled against the tides of the status-quo to affect positive change for their community.

Nick and Cecilia describe The Swimming Club as ‘a story defined by the inherent struggles of living publicly as trans in 2015, providing an incredible insight into issues that transcend the world of just this particular community.’

Nick and Cecilia will receive a £500 Bursary from the We The Peoples Film Festival and benefit through guidance from the British Film Institute. The Swimming Club will be premiered at the 2016 festival in November at the BFI South Bank.  
  
Other finalists set out to tackle various issues such as the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais; the integration challenges of teenage refugees; challenges facing ex-FARC women fighters on finding feminist solutions in post-conflict Colombia; the loss of dignity in death with more and more people living and dying alone; and the conflicts in a Hindu family with one son marrying and another struggling with coming out.

10 October - UNA Westminster Study Tour to Vienna packs in a busy programme!

UNA Westminster Study Tour to Vienna packs in a busy programme!

The Study Tour group comprising nineteen members including members of university UNA groups and UNA Young Professionals have completed a comprehensive visit to UN agencies based in Vienna as well as other institutions located in the city. Meetings were arranged with the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, the UN International Development Organisation, the UN Commission on International Trade Law, the International Narcotic Control Board and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs.
The group received two presentations from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe which invited it to attend a rare meeting of its Forum for Security Co-operation (military) and its Permanent Council (civilian) to discuss UN SCR 1325 (Women, peace and security). It also met Dr Ali Ahmad, Director of Vienna’s newly-opened Peace Museum and Prof Dr Heinz Gärtner, Director, Austrian Institute for International Affairs, who discussed his recent visits to Iran in connection with the landmark deal reached on its nuclear programme.

The group also met Dr Gerhard Sailler, Deputy Director of the Vienna Diplomatic Academy who explained to younger members the Academy’s comparative advantages. Michael Platzer, Director, Academic Council on the UN System introduced the group to the upcoming UN General Assembly debate on Femicide.

The group was especially fortunate to be entertained to a lavish tea by the British Ambassador to Austria and the UN in Vienna, HE Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque (left, with Farzana Lodhi, SOAS, and Habiba Akthur, Goldsmiths College London). She introduced her team of diplomats who answered the group’s questions on several topics. The programme allowed time for sight-seeing in the beautiful city and the group enjoyed a concert in the Kursalon and several good meals together.

Several younger members were granted bursaries to assist their participation. UNA Westminster is grateful to the UNA London & South East Region Trust for its generous assistance in this and it also granted bursaries. The individual reports of those receiving bursaries will be posted on the 2015 Event Reports site at a later date.  A day-to-day detailed programme together with photographs can be found here.

27 September - More problems for UN peace operations?

More problems for UN peace operations?

2015 witnesses a plethora of reports covering the UN’s initiatives in peacekeeping and peacebuilding. But have we been here before? A frustrated Hervé Ladsous, USG for Peacekeeping Operations, asserts the UN “cannot continue just using tools of 50 or 100 years ago”. But who is listening?

The first major Peacekeeping review since 2000 has been led by José Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste, well acquainted with UN peacekeepers in his then named East Timor. His Panel identified essential shifts to be embraced if UN peace operations are to make real progress. These shifts demand UN operations must be driven by politics, be more flexible to changing needs on the ground, more inclusive and finally, the UN Secretariat must be more field-focused and its operations be more people-centred, responding to the experiences of local people. In short, the legacy of the “white -SUV culture” must give way to a more human face.  

Some Member States, including many leading troop contributors, firmly adhere to the three core principles of peacekeeping; consent of the parties, impartiality; and the non-use of force except in self-defence or defence of the mandate. Others suggest that these are outmoded. This is part of the dilemma that Hervé Ladsous faces.

So can the UN avoid the need for peacekeeping, even preventing conflict in the first place? Since its creation in 2005, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), conceived to assume this task, is widely seen to have underperformed, even with the seven states it was charged to principally assist. Its diverse membership, representing different UN groups of Member States, seemed destined to lead to confusion, reducing it to a vague advisory role. So Ban Ki Moon tasked a group of experts to review the UN’s ‘Peacebuilding Architecture’. The group’s report has alarmed some, seeking to redesign the PBC root and branch. Claiming that the UN’s mechanisms are fragmenting thus damaging its capacity in peacebuilding, its recommendations will surely lead the Security Council to get jumpy, suspecting the General Assembly seeks to encroach onto the maintenance of international peace through the “back door” of peacebuilding. But maybe the Panel is right. Its raft of hard-hitting proposals include charging the PBC with early conflict prevention priorities (rather than the Security Council), beefing up the Peacebuilding Fund and working closely in post conflict work with the World Bank which all rate as more focused in this field than the UN. Ban Ki Moon wants both sets of recommendations implemented. This will upset members of the Security Council. Watch this space. 

17 September - UNA Westminster and Bar Council marks UN70 with diplomatic reception in Inner Temple

UNA Westminster and Bar Council marks UN70 with diplomatic reception in Inner Temple

UNA Westminster and the Bar Council of England and Wales jointly organised a prestige diplomatic reception to mark the UN’s 70th anniversary, held in the historic Great Hall of the Inner Temple. Among the sixty embassies represented, thirty were from amongst the UN’s founder members which attended the inaugural meeting of the UN in London in January 1946. Addressing the audience of nearly three hundred, the noted international barrister Vaughan Lowe QC pointed to the many successes of the UN in the establishment of international norms, the establishment of working protocols, all underpinned by the necessity to agree a common Rule of Law. Later, he fielded questions from the audience. The event also set out to create a new network comprising members of the Young Bar Council, the Young Diplomats in London Group and our own UNA Young Professionals, each group represented by forty of their members. Each of the groups will organise one event annually to which members of the others will be invited and they will jointly arrange a dedicated social event.


Leisha Beardmore, Chair, UNA Young Professionals is flanked by Bartosz Tymkowski, Chair, Young Diplomats in London and Daniel Sternberg, Chair, Young Bar Committee

6 August - Vienna Study Tour party promised a full programme

Vienna Study Tour party promised a full programme

6 August Final arrangements are being made to ensure the UNA Westminster Study Tour to Vienna provides a challenging and enjoyable experience to the twenty lucky participants. Bookings are now closed. Many UN agencies are based in the Vienna International Centre and many meetings with UN personnel will take place in this impressive building. The party will visit the UN International Development Organisation, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs and the UN Commission on International Trade Law. They will visit the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and hope to attend a regular meeting of its Forum for Security Co-operation. To gain a UK perspective on the work of the UN agencies and OSCE, the party will visit the UK Missions to both the UN and OSCE.


“The programme is not all work” promises David Wardrop, Study Tour party leader. “We have time to visit the many attractions in the Museum Quarter and see over the magnificent Schönbrunn Palace (above). Also we will enjoy a concert at the Wiener Kursalon. A Vienna-based student will share ideas for evening entertainment for younger members.”

Those joining the Study Tour include experienced UNA members and a number of young people, many planning careers in international affairs and development programmes. Some of these will be benefit through bursaries provided by the London and South East Region UNA Trust and UNA Westminster branch.

25 July - Leisha Beardmore is the new Chair for UNA Westminster Young Professionals

Leisha Beardmore is the new Chair for UNA Westminster Young Professionals

25 July Leisha Beardmore is to be the new Chair of United Nations Association Westminster Young Professionals. Leisha is a Gender Justice researcher with OXFAM and also advises Small Island States on environmental issues. Recently she attended the UN Climate Change preparatory conference in Bonn (picture below). She succeeds Ludre Stevens who remains an adviser to the group and a member of the Executive Committee of UNA Westminster.
Through her Facebook page, Leisha said “I will be the first ever woman to be Chair of the group, and the first woman within Westminster to be chair for 15 years! Super excited and thrilled to have the opportunity!! I want to make it AMAZING, so I hope lots of you will want to be involved with making creative, innovative and thought-provoking ways of bringing international affairs across London.”

Leisha will be coordinating representation of the UNA Westminster Young Professionals at the Bar Council’s reception for the diplomatic community in September. She will lead discussions on cooperation with the Young Bar group and the Young Diplomats in London organisation.

16 July - ‘Sowing the Whirlwind’: Nuclear Politics and the Historical Record’ Major conference to mark 70th anniversary of destruction of Hiroshima

‘Sowing the Whirlwind’: Nuclear Politics and the Historical Record’ Major conference to mark 70th anniversary of destruction of Hiroshima

UNA Westminster’s conference to mark the 70th anniversary of the nuclear era, held in association with the School of Commonwealth Studies at London University, considered the contestation over knowledge about nuclear bombs and warfare, including the impact and roles of misinformation and secrecy, from the start of the Second World War until the present day. The last 70 years have seen a number of moments – such as the Cuban Missile Crisis – when it seemed that the horror of Hiroshima would be repeated, but the key actors pulled back from the brink. Speakers explored how the UN, governments, local authorities, NGOs and campaigners performed over this period. The keynote address was given by Dr. Akiko Mikamo, both of whose parents were in central Hiroshima when the nuclear bomb exploded. Her book Rising from the Ashes:  A True Story of Survival and Forgiveness from Hiroshima has been published worldwide. Other speakers from the USA, Europe and the UK expanded on their interpretation of events past and on the future. 

1 June - Will Ban Ki-moon’s Panel on Hammarskjöld’s death run out of time and funds to properly complete its report?

Will Ban Ki-moon’s Panel on Hammarskjöld’s death run out of time and funds to properly complete its report?

Is Ban Ki-moon’s Panel on Hammarskjöld’s death running out of time to properly complete its report?

I June 2015 Observers following the progress of the Hammarskjöld Panel appointed by UN S-G Ban Kimoon to examine new information on the death of former S-G Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961 fear that it might have to compromise its programme as its budget extends only to 30 June 2015, when it must present its report. The Panel, with the remit of evaluating the new information for its probative value, began its work as recently as April, thus allowing for barely three months of investigation.

The Panel members are eminent experts in highly relevant disciplines. However, observers point to key issues which the Panel’s report might not have time to address adequately. One issue is that the Panel needs to understand the colonial mindset and context of British-ruled Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, in which the original UN Inquiry of 1961-62 was conducted.

There is understandable sensitivity that in re-opening the Inquiry, the UN needs to show due recognition of the treatment of colonised nations in Africa and of the conduct of the superpowers at the time of the accident. A number of African eye witness accounts of aircraft movements over Ndola airport at the time of the crash challenged official reports – and these accounts were disregarded as inherently unreliable by the original UN Inquiry, reiterating the approach of the inquiries by the colonial authorities. The release of various documents many years later supports their recollection. It follows that their claims to have witnessed extraordinary sightings in the sky, dismissed at the time, should be re-examined fully. The Panel visited Ndola to interview eye witnesses but observers worry that the Panel will have had insufficient time to listen carefully to all witnesses, to set them in context, and to reach any conclusions.

In addition, it is important to know whether or not the Panel is getting traction for S-G Ban Ki-moon’s request to Member States for the release of ‘any relevant records in their possession’. The US government has not released into the public domain relevant documentation held by CIA, NSA and the State Department, even though these records are well over 50 years old. Nor has the UK government released any material held by MI5, MI6 or GCHQ, even though an MI6 official was at Ndola for six days surrounding the crash in activities relating to Hammarskjöld’s visit. Belgium, France and South Africa may also hold relevant files, as may the UN itself. What records have the Panel seen? How comprehensive have the disclosures been? Are those records now available to the public?

The Panel will surely not be able to write an authoritative report on the probative value of the new evidence unless all relevant documentation has been released by the countries involved.

Budgetary issues appear to be driving the UN Panel’s agenda. With only US$500, 000 to spend, its work must complete by the end of June and it is this finance-driven deadline that worries observers. In the UK, the recent conclusion of investigations into the Hillsborough football stadium tragedy of 1989 illustrates that such exercises can lead to great expenditure but, at the same time, it is important to the community that closure is both authoritative and transparent. “We owe it to the deceased, to their families and relatives, and also to the wider global community, to undertake everything possible to establish the truth. To those who insist it is a waste of time to review such events from history, we would argue that the injustice felt at the time still resonates today” said David Wardrop, Chairman of United Nations Association Westminster branch, co-ordinator of the international campaign to re-open the Inquiry. “At a time when critics of the UN System and its Member States challenge its determination to manifest the principle of transparency, it is on such issues that it and they will be judged.”

Background
The UN Panel comprises Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman (Tanzania), aviation specialist Kerryn Macaulay (Australia) and ballistics expert Henrik Larsen (Denmark).

Over more than fifty years, much new information has emerged. The book Who Killed Hammarskjöld (2011) by Susan Williams provides a useful guide to key documents and to rival theories and led to the setting up of the independent and international Hammarskjöld Commission, comprising distinguished retired jurists. The 2013 Report of the Commission persuaded Ban Ki-moon to seek agreement from the UN General Assembly to set up the new Panel.

For the Hammarskjöld Commission Report, see http://www.hammarskjoldcommission.org

20 May - 13th annual UN Peacekeepers Day events attract record attendance

13th annual UN Peacekeepers Day events attract record attendance

Thirteenth annual conference and ceremony to mark International Day of UN Peacekeepers attracts record attendance

20 May 2015 UNA Westminster welcomed the participation and support of UNA-UK this year in the planning and promotion of our annual conference and ceremony to mark International Day of UN Peacekeepers.
The conference was hosted by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in Whitehall. A standing room heard speakers address the challenge facing the UN Secretary-General’s High- level Independent Panel current review of peace operations. They noted that peacekeeping reform once again tops the agenda and the continuing imbalance in global peacekeeping troop and police contributions which has led some to question whether rich states, including the UK, are pulling their weight. The Folke Bernadotte Memorial Lecture was given by Major General (Ret’d) Robert Gordon, former Force Commander of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea. An audio recording of the conference will be posted by RUSI.

 The wreath-laying ceremony attracted more than one hundred embassies and high commissions, a record worldwide for such an event. The photo shows Baroness Anelay, Minister of State, FCO, Major General John Patterson and Sir Thomas Winsor, HM Chief Inspector Constabulary who led the official wreath-layers after Astrid Bernadotte laid a wreath in memory of her grandfather, the UN’s mediator in Palestine who was assassinated in 1948 and
Admiral Schricke, Defence Adviser, Embassy of France who remembered Commandant René de Labarrière of France, the first UN peacekeeper to die. Members of the UN Veterans Association provided the Colour Guard. Their Chairman, John Cooke, laid a wreath in memory of all UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace. The Band of the Royal Logistics Corps provided musical support.

Please visit the UNA-UK's Storify here. An Instagram can be viewed here.
Images of both events, captured by the Nigerian Embassy can be viewed here.

17 April 2015 - UNA Westminster announces Study Tour to UN agencies in Vienna, 5-9 October

UNA Westminster announces Study Tour to UN agencies in Vienna, 5-9 October

 

Join our interesting visit to this important ‘UN City’, host to important UN agencies and programmes, and the OSCE. Meet and discuss their priorities and challenges.
The VIC (3)
We will hold briefings with senior staff members from six UN agencies and also visit the headquarters of the Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). We will hear about the priority issues of the UK Mission to Vienna which handles all UN agencies as well as the OSCE, in this enchanting and compact city. We will make time to explore the city also, from its Schönnbrun and Liechtenstein Palaces, its museums and concert halls to its famous cafes. Read on to learn about this exciting, informative and enjoyable programme. The cost of £425 (shared room) and £520 (single occupancy) does not include flights so you can choose and from which airport you fly from – and to. Linz and Bratislava are two attractive nearby cities to consider.

Study Tour to Vienna

To offer maximum flexibility, tour party members will travel to Vienna independently. Some will prefer to travel direct to Vienna, others may choose to fly to nearby Bratislava in Slovakia or to Linz, Austria. Travel to and from Vienna is easy from both. 
We will meet up in the highly praised Hotel Magdas which is run by refugees.

Travel to the Vienna International Centre (VIC) will be by metro or by taxi for those unable to tackle the ten minute walk through the park to the metro station. 

Outline programme
Sunday 4 October                             Arrive and register at Hotel Magdas [note 1]
Monday 5 October    Morning          Take sightseeing bus through Vienna
Afternoon        Lunch in VIC cafeteria, then meeting with UNIDO
Evening           Dinner
Tuesday 6 October    Morning          Meeting with IAEA, then lunch in VIC cafeteria
Afternoon        Visit Schönbrunn Palace [note 2] 
Evening           Reception with UK Mission (TBA)
Wednesday 7 October Morning       Visit UNODC, then lunch in VIC cafeteria
Afternoon        Visit UNOOSA [note 3]
Into evening    Visit Museum Quarter [note 4]
Evening           Orchestral concert [note 5]
Thursday 8 October  Morning          either tour UN art or visit CTBTO, then lunch in VIC cafeteria
Afternoon        Visit OSCE
Evening           Formal event with City of Vienna [note 6]
Friday 9 October        Morning          either visit UNCITRAL or INCB, then visit city centre
Afternoon        either visit peace Museum or Military Museum [note 7]
Evening           Liechtenstein City Palace [note 8], then farewell dinner
Saturday 10 October                         Depart independently

All UN agencies are located in the Vienna International Centre (VIC)
CTBTO                         Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation
IAEA                 International Atomic Energy Agency
UNODC            UN Office of drugs and Crime
UNIDO             UN International Development Organisation
UNOOSA          United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
UNCITRAL        United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
INCB                International Narcotic Control Board
CTBTO             Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation
OSCE               Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (central Vienna)

How much will it cost? £425 each for a shared room, £520 for single occupancy
INCLUDES  - hotel breakfasts, metro/bus ticket for tour period, visit to Schönbrunn Palace, Wiener Kursalon orchestral concert, entry to Military Museum and evening meals.
NOT INCLUDED  - air flights (return flights from £116 at time of writing) or lunch in the excellent VIC cafeteria to offer maximum flexibility for diets and time for our meetings.
We hope to arrange receptions hosted by the UK Mission; the City of Vienna and the Liechtenstein family.  
See notes on following page

 

Explanatory Notes      
1 The Hotel Magdas is run by refugees and highly praised by Caritas. The nearest metro station, Praterstern, is 15 minutes’ walk and a bus can make it in 4 minutes. From there, the VIC is reached in 4 minutes. *Taxis are easily arranged.
2 Direct to the Schönbrunn Palace (below) by metro, then 10 minutes’ walk to entry.
Of Opulence and Finery: Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

3 Our visit coincides with World Space Week which might influence the programme.
4 Tour members can choose from the many museums here and pay for their preferred options.
5 The Salonorchester "Alt Wien" performs Viennese favourites in the Wiener Kursalon (below), one of the city’s most beautiful concert venues.
Concerts at the Kursalon 
6 We hope to mark Austria’s 60th anniversary as a UN member.
7 See Archduke Ferdinand’s car and bloodstained jacket! Or choose where you want to visit.
8 We will visit the extraordinary, baroque Liechtenstein City Palace (below) owned by the princely family of Liechtenstein.
Ballroom in Liechtenstein City Palace

 

16 April 2015 - ‘Sowing the Whirlwind’: Nuclear Politics and the Historical Record’ UNA Westminster to co-host conference to mark the 70th anniversary of the atomic age, together with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London

‘Sowing the Whirlwind’: Nuclear Politics and the Historical Record’ UNA Westminster to co-host conference to mark the 70th anniversary of the atomic age, together with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London

Organised jointly with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London Conference to mark the 70th anniversary of the atomic age which has overshadowed humanity

16 July 2015
10am to 5.30pm
_______________________
The Chancellor's Hall
Senate House, University of London
Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

The decision taken 70 years ago to use untried technology to speed the end of the war introduced Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the international lexicon. “Yesterday we clinched victory in the Pacific, but we sowed the whirlwind" wrote Hanson Baldwin in the New York Times. That whirlwind touched all humanity, redefining fear, fuelling misinformation and secrecy and encouraging denial. It led to unlikely alliances of nations, some of these of sworn enemies and others joined only by that new fear borne of inability to imagine their own worlds after another Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Over these years, efforts have been made to return us from the brink, to wind back from only minutes to midnight, the hands of the historic Doomsday Clock. From the chambers of the United Nations where states, the powerful and the powerless, have sought to drive the narrative, from regions, towns and individuals, people have cried out for rational debate. This most dangerous period in the ascent of humankind has been variously recorded but can we now assemble the facts into a coherent historical record?  

The conference will consider the contestation over knowledge about nuclear bombs and warfare, including the impact and roles of misinformation and secrecy, from the start of the Second World War until the present day. The last 70 years have seen a number of moments – such as the Cuban Missile Crisis – when it seemed that the horror of Hiroshima would be repeated, but the key actors pulled back from the brink. This will be explored, as well as efforts by campaigners and the UN to prevent such a great catastrophe. A concluding Round Table will provide an opportunity to review where we are now, and where we are going.

Register here: £20 and £10 (students and concessions)
Refreshments and post-conference reception included 

 

 

PROGRAMME
0930       Registration                                       
1000       Session 1             After Hiroshima: redefining fear, living in denial            
Chair: Professor Philip Murphy, Director, Institute of Commonwealth Studies,
School of Advanced Study, University of London
Professor Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, Director, Nuclear Studies Institute, American University, Washington
"The 'Greatest Thing in History' or the Most Reckless? Reflections on the 70th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki”
Professor Matthew Jones, Department of International History, London School of
Economics and Political Science
“The legacies of Hiroshima for US-Asian relations in the early Cold War”           
1050                                       Q and A               
1120                                       Coffee
1140       Session 2             Back from the Brink – So Far      
Chair: David Wardrop, Chairman, United Nations Association Westminster Branch
Andreas Persbo, Executive Director, Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC)
“Recognising the dangers: nuclear states agree new rules” TBC
Bruce Kent, Vice-President, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
“Opposition voices, national and international”            
1230                                       Q and A
1300                                       Keynote address                             
Chair: Professor Henning Melber, Director Emeritus, Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, Uppsala  
Dr. Akiko Mikamo, President, US-Japan Psychological Services, author of Rising from the Ashes:  A True Story of Survival and Forgiveness from Hiroshima
“Rising from the Ashes - Under and Beyond That Mushroom Cloud”
1330                                       Q and A
1400                                       Lunch
1500       Session 3             What is the historical record? The contestation over truth         
Chair: Dr John Y. Jones, Director, Voksenåsen Networkers South, Oslo 
Dr Susan Williams, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London
Blank pages of history: Congolese uranium and the Manhattan Project”
Dr Walt Patterson, Associate Fellow, Chatham House, Founding Member, International Energy Advisory Council, Visiting Fellow Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex
“Whose history? The nuclear kaleidoscope”
1550                                       Q and A
1620                                       Tea
1645                                       Round Table
Chair: Professor Mary Kaldor, LSE (invited)
Dr. Knox Chitiyo, Associate Fellow, Africa Programme, Chatham House
Professor Peter Kuznick               , American University, Washington         
Andreas Persbo                , Executive Director, VERTIC       
1750                                       Open discussion                             
1820       Ends                     

1830                                       Reception to 1930

 

16 April 2015- UNA Westminster announces faith speakers at Cenotaph ceremony

UNA Westminster announces faith speakers at Cenotaph ceremony

The traditional diplomatic community wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the Cenotaph at 1pm. The Ceremony prayers will be given by former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries and Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, a leading Imam from Leicester. The Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas (below) will provide musical support.  All are welcome.   

16 April 2015 - Hammarskjöld panel of experts starts its work

Hammarskjöld panel of experts starts its work

16 April 2015 UNA Westminster welcomes news that the independent panel of experts to examine new information that has emerged on the death of Hammarskjöld has commenced its work. The panel comprises Mr. Mohamed Chande Othman (United Republic of Tanzania) as Head of the Panel; Ms. Kerryn Macaulay (Australia); and Mr. Henrik Larsen (Denmark).

The panel has been given until 30 June to examine and assess the probative value of all new information. It is hoped that the panel’s work will benefit through the release by Member States of any relevant records in their possession. The principal source document for the panel’s work will be the Report of the Hammarskjöld Commission (see below) which is underpinned by a great amount of supportive material, already submitted to the panel.

Further independent analysis of records of aircraft movements over the critical hours of the time of the crash of Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane continues. Efforts to dispel suggestions of conspiracy and foul play causing the crash have been hindered by contradictory evidence on this issue when presented to the initial official Inquiries.

UNA Westminster urges all who believe they can contribute useful information to help the panel to do so. Even though for decades, fanciful theories may seem to have exhausted any further options, the gradual release of archives by several governments has cast new light on the matter. But despite the request by the UN Secretary-General for the release by Member States of any relevant records in their possession, UNA Westminster remains concerned that this request will not be honoured. We await the report of the panel.

To follow developments so far, please use this excellent Timeline provided by the UN’s Dag Hammarskjöld Library. This includes the Report of the Hammarskjöld Commission.

25 February 2015 - UN Special Rapporteur sets out proposals for strengthening the UN Special Procedures and the Implementation of International Human Rights Law

UN Special Rapporteur sets out proposals for strengthening the UN Special Procedures and the Implementation of International Human Rights Law

In delivering the 13th Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law Lecture, in the Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre at SOAS, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, set out his proposals for strengthening the UN Special Procedures and the Implementation of International Human Rights Law.
Kofi Annan has called the UN Special Procedures system the "crown jewel" of the UN’s human rights machinery. Seventy nine experts report on 50 procedures covering a wide range of thematic issues and focus on a number of countries of concern. These mechanism were not envisaged in the UN charter, emerging in response to egregious human rights violations. However, the system is under stress from political pressure within the UN Human Rights Council and also through severe resource constraints and deficits in the mainstreaming of human rights.
Dr Shaheed will argue for greater use of the special procedures system, including closer integration into the Rights Up Front framework proposed by Ban Ki moon in 2013 and formulated in the aftermath of the civil war in Sri Lanka when an Internal Review Panel characterized the UN’s conduct as demonstrating systemic failure to protect human rights.  It identified the problems with priorities, flow of information and communication, capacity and inadequate responses: somewhat similar to the kinds of mainstreaming deficits that many special procedures complain about.

Also, he proposed that greater resources be spent on processing communications in the human rights system: right now, the OHCHR accepts petitions in only three languages, and the bulk of the complaints received are not even officially logged into system--- a function of serious staff shortage. More transparency in country responses to communications can also be attained, and this has in fact being done recently. He agreed with Professor Michael O’Flaherty that the funding situation of OHCHR is a global scandal: it gets about 3% of the UN’s regular budget and the total budget of the OHCHR at around 295 million dollars is far less than the budget of Amnesty International. Clearly, the third pillar of the United Nations need to look more like a pillar than a stump.

Dr Shaheed is also the Chairperson of the Geneva-based international human rights think-tank, Universal Rights Group. He was Foreign Minister of the Maldives from 2005 to 2007 and from 2008 to 2010, and led the country’s efforts to sign and ratify the major international human rights Conventions and related optional protocols, and to implement them in law and practice.

The complete text of Dr Shaheed’s address is posted here
See here for information on Dr Shaheed’s work

20 February 2015 - UNA Westminster welcomes increased transparency in seeking successor to Valerie Amos

UNA Westminster welcomes increased transparency in seeking successor to Valerie Amos

http://static.un.org/News/dh/photos/large/2012/February/02-22-2012valerieamos.jpg

UNA has been a trenchant critic (news item 3 December 2014) of the Prime Minister’s submission of a single candidate, Andrew Lansley to succeed Valerie Amos as OCHA chief seen above visiting Niger on 17 Febrjuary. It appears UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has withdrawn his invitation to offer this post to another UK nominee and he has now appointed a panel of experts to review applicants from all UN member states. Current UN staff members are also eligible and the front-runners are introduced here by UN Tribune.

17 February 2015 - From a book to a United Nations resolution: yes we can!

From a book to a United Nations resolution: yes we can!

Hammarskjold colour

The School of Advanced Study at the University of London has now published a helpful short blog with the above title written by Hans Melber and David Wardrop. This chronicles events from the launch of the book Who killed Hammarskjöld? by Susan Williams to the creation of the Hammarskjöld Commission, the publication of its Report and the international campaign led by UNA Westminster Branch to secure support in the UN General Assembly to re-open the Inquiry into the then Secretary-General’s death.

2014

30 December 2014 - UN General Assembly agrees by consensus to re-open the inquiry into the death of Dag Hammarskjöld and fifteen others

UN General Assembly agrees by consensus to re-open the inquiry into the death of Dag Hammarskjöld and fifteen others

30 December The UN General Assembly has by consensus of all 193 nations adopted a resolution to re-open the Inquiry into the death of former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld. The resolution requests Ban Ki-moon to appoint an independent panel of experts to examine new information and to assess its probative value and encourages Member States to release any relevant records in their possession and to provide to the Secretary-General relevant information.


image

Following the General Assembly’s decision, two members of the Hammarskjöld Commission[1] have commented on developments. Ambassador Hans Corell (left), formerly Under- Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel of the United Nations, was interviewed on the Swedish Radio NewsChannel, P1 Morgen. (Mr Corell inaugurated UNA Westminster’s annual Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law lecture series, in 2003). Also, Justice Wilhelmina Thomassen, who served as a judge of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, was interviewed on Netherlands Radio.


Recent media coverage worldwide includes the authoritativecontribution by Claudia Antunes who reports for the Brazilian journal PIAUÍ. Joe Lauria, Wall Street Journal, who has followed the story closely since the publication of the Report of the Hammarskjöld Commission in September 2013, contributed his article on 29 December (WSJ subscribers only).


[I] Members of the Hammarskjöld Commission

The Rt Hon. Sir Stephen Sedley (Chair), UK

Ambassador Hans Corell, Sweden

Judge Richard Goldstone, South Africa

Justice Wilhelmina Thomassen, Netherlands


For the Report, see http://www.hammarskjoldcommission.org

For News Updates on this matter, see www.humanrights2008.org.uk

15 December 2014 - Sweden introduces draft resolution for the UN General Assembly to re-open the inquiry into the death of Dag Hammarskjöld and fifteen others

Sweden introduces draft resolution for the UN General Assembly to re-open the inquiry into the death of Dag Hammarskjöld and fifteen others

The UN General Assembly heard Sweden’s Ambassador Per Thöresson introduce a draft resolution on investigation into the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and those on board his flight. He stated that he spoke with the support of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Ghana, Iceland, Ireland, the Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, South Africa, Zambia as well as Sweden.

He stated that ‘Hammarskjöld’s tenure, marked by vision and pragmatism, paved the way for policy and practices that have been mainstreamed and consolidated in ways that we now take for granted. Hammarskjöld promoted the integrity and independence of the United Nations and of the Secretary-General, ideals nowadays rarely questioned, and of crucial importance as the UN has expanded into a near-universal membership. He conceived the concept of preventive diplomacy, and set ground-breaking examples for the Secretary-General’s direct diplomatic engagement.’

He referred to General Assembly resolution 1759 (XVII) of 26 October 1962 which considered the UN inquiry’s report of the crash and requested the Secretary-General to inform it of any new evidence relating to the disaster. Following Ban Ki-moon’s recognition of such as provided by the Hammarskjöld Commission, and his suggestion that the General Assembly consider three different options to examine this, Mr Thöresson tabled a brief draft resolution with three operational elements. One, it requests the Secretary-General to appoint an independent panel of experts to examine new information and to assess its probative value. Two, it encourages Members States to release any relevant records in their possession and to provide to the Secretary-General relevant information related to the death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him, and three, it requests the Secretary-General to report on the progress made to the General Assembly at its 70th session. In his speech, the ambassador thanked several Member States, especially Zambia*.

The financial implications of the resolution will be considered by the Fifth Committee later this week.


[* Mama Chibesa Kankasa, a witness to events at the time of the accident and later, a member of Zambia’s Central Committee in Charge of Women's Affairs, referred to UNA Westminster’s campaign in her powerful supportive letter to her country’s Foreign Minister.]


For News Updates on this matter, see www.humanrights2008.org.uk

05 December 2014 - UNA Westminster branch mourns death of Vice-President Jeremy Thorpe

UNA Westminster branch mourns death of Vice-President Jeremy Thorpe

5 December The Rt. Hon. Jeremy Thorpe PC, a Westminster Branch Vice-President, died on 4 December. Mr Thorpe, former leader of the Liberal Party and a committed internationalist, had served the United Nations Association as Chairman and later, chaired its Political Committee. During his tenure, he steered it through a difficult period as it sought both new premises and added income. His strong leadership was tested when UNA, seeking new premises, embarked on a potentially damaging lease arrangement. Mr Thorpe managed to extract it from this and secure the current premises at 3 Whitehall Court, close to the National Liberal Club with which he was closely associated. In 1979, in the closing weeks of the Labour government, he urged the Foreign Secretary, David ((now Lord) Owen, to authorise a grant to UNA of £24,000, the maximum that could be given without recourse to parliament. Owen agreed and the grant continued, bitterly resented by the incoming government, for more than twenty years.

Mr Thorpe accepted the invitation to serve as a Vice President of UNA Westminster in 1985. His advice on international issues, especially relating to southern Africa was always welcomed. He worked tirelessly with colleagues in South Africa to establish factories to design and manufacture low-cost housing, an imperative for the immediate post-Apartheid government.

image

1 The Queen with Jeremy and Marion Thorpe and, behind, Sir Patrick Cormack, following the service at St. Paul’s Cathedral to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations

In 2005, he proposed to the branch’s Executive Committee that the UN’s 60th anniversary should be marked by a service in Westminster Abbey as had been the case for its 50th anniversary. The Dean refused, stating ‘we don’t do 60s’ although later he did authorise the service to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War 2. However, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral had no such qualms enabling Mr Thorpe, Sir Patrick (now Lord) Cormack, a West- minster branch member, and Branch Chairman David Wardrop to seek

funding for and to organise the event. The branch was delighted when HM the Queen agreed to attend the service on Sunday 24 October, United Nations Day. The Cathedral was full and the congregation included the Diplomatic Corps, Mayors, Lord Lieutenants and members of both Houses of Parliament who heard lessons read by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Later, a tea party for 400 was held in the Cathedral Crypt. Photos of the service and complete details of those who attended can be found on the Westminster branch website, See What we do/Branch events/2005.

03 December 2014 - Time for all top UN appointments to show transparency, says UNA Westminster

Time for all top UN appointments to show transparency, says UNA Westminster

UNA Westminster has joined the ‘One for Seven Billion’ Campaign which advocates a more transparent selection process for the post of UN Secretary-General than that used to date. The campaign is co-ordinated by UNA UK and other leading UK NGOs and has been well-received. As UNA UK states, “seven billion people across the world are affected by his or her decisions. That's why choosing the best Secretary-General for the United Nations is so important.”


UNA Westminster is concerned the campaign does not extend to cover appointments for other top UN posts. Whilst we welcome the intention of the UN Department of Management (UNDM) to extend the scope of Senior Managers’ Compacts (2006) to include such posts, the call for transparency within the UN system has yet to be fully heeded and implemented. The Report of the UN Joint Inspection Unit (UNJIU) titled Transparency in the selection and appointment of senior managers in the United Nations Secretariat (2011) states:

para 69 the Secretary-General insists that the interview panel should submit to him a choice of at least three candidates for any position, at least one of whom is a woman. If this is not the case, he will return the proposed list and ask for a new search .

para 81 the Secretary-General recognises the political realities that he must reflect in the Organization, but that no position is reserved for any Member State. In the event that the Secretary-General decides that a national of a certain country will be appointed, he insists that that country provide him a slate of candidates for consideration. If he is not provided with a choice, he cannot select, and therefore, he will request new nominations.

para 82 The requirements of para 3(e) in GA resolution 46/232, whereby it decided that as a general rule, no national of a Member State should succeed a national of that State in a senior post and that there should be no monopoly on senior posts by nationals of any State or group of States, should be satisfied.


The matter is immediate as Baroness Valerie Amos (UK), UN USG for Humanitarian Affairs & Relief Coordination, will retire early next year. It is reported that although Ban Ki-moon has requested our Prime Minister to submit the required shortlist of three names, he has submitted only that of Andrew Lansley MP. It is clear that the correct procedure has not been followed and Ban Ki-moon should adhere to the thrust of his statements made to the UNJIU. UNA Westminster has noted remarks made by Lord Malloch Brown, former UN Deputy Secretary General and Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Oxfam who cite Mr Lansley’s lack of experience and qualification in this area.


Therefore UNA Westminster urges the ‘One for Seven Billion’ campaign to propose that the British government should set an example to other P5 States by supporting the principle of Ban Ki- moon’s statements as reported by the UNJIU and forego any assumed legacy right to submit nominations to succeed Valerie Amos; also to urge fellow P5 states to act similarly; and to urge the UN Secretary-General to make clear his intention to encourage transparency for all UN appointments. Without such an initiative linked to it, the ‘One for Seven Billion’ campaign may be seen by some as hypocritical; ‘one rule for us and another for the rest of you.’

17 November 2014 - Worldwide support for UNA Westminster urging the UN General Assembly to debate the Hammarskjöld Commission Report

Individuals from fifteen countries urge the UN General Assembly to debate the Hammarskjöld Commission Report on 15 December

Leading individuals from fifteen countries, many having served the United Nations in senior positions, urge the UN General Assembly to re-open the UN inquiry of 1961-62 into the cause of the death of former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961, under the terms set out in UN Resolution 1759 (XVII) of 26 October 1962.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has suggested the General Assembly may wish to consider three options in pursuing the matter further. The Hammarskjöld Commission advocates a new or reopened UN inquiry, to focus on where they have advised the key probably lies - the records of the National Security Agency of the USA.

The text of the letter is here.

A briefing prepared by the United Nations Association Westminster Branch is here.

Media contact:
David Wardrop, Chairman, United Nations Association Westminster Branch
Tel:      +44 207 385 6738
E-mail: davidwardrop6@gmail.com

08 November 2014 - “Take me to the Front” scoops We the Peoples Film Festival Youth Day awards

Stefano Pietrocola’s Take me to the Front scoops Short Film awards at We the Peoples Film Festival Youth Day at the BFI South Bank

8 November Stefano Pietrocola’s film about Hector, a British photojournalist, covering the Bosniain war in the ‘90s took all three audience awards at the opening event of the 2014 We the Peoples film festival. These were for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor. Stefano was present to receive the Best Film and Best Director awards and Jimmy Tihovsi accepted the Best Actor award on behalf of Lee Hart who played the role of Hector. The other films screened in the Short Film programme were Shame and Glasses and Starry Eyes.  

TakeMeToTheFront-1The Youth Day at the BFI also featured the popular #tweetapitch competition which awards a £500 bursary to a young film-maker together with an invitation to screen the completed film at the following year’s We the Peoples Youth Day at the BFI. This year, Jade Jackman won with her proposal to cover the work of a Kabul-based Afghan woman graffiti artist. Proposals by Yiman Lin and Ben Daniels were highly praised by the judges and both were invited to visit the BFI for further discussions.

Masterclasses were led by Rob Brown and Jake Hume whose film Sixteen was also screened and by film animation guru Helen Piercy as well as award-winning director Adeyemi Michael who presented a practical workshop on the art of documentary filmmaking. Iyare Igiehon hosted the Awards presentations which were followed by a reception. “It was a great day” said Vivienne Eka, Festival Director, “The young people learned a lot about film-making and also about the work of the United Nations. Our special thanks go to Noel Goodwin and Matt Cuzner, our hosts at the BFI.”   

The We the Peoples Film Festival is an annual Flagship Project of UNA Westminster Branch and continues to 24 November. Please see here for the programme.

31 October 2014 - UNA Westminster signs up as Supportive Entity of the Human Rights at Sea International Initiative

31 October UNA Westminster has registered as a Supportive Entity of the Human Rights at Sea International Initiative which has been independently developed for the benefit of the international community, including the maritime industry, for matters and issues concerning human rights in the maritime environment. The initiative is led by David Hammond of 9 Bedford Row International who delivered UNA Westminster’s 12th Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law Lecture.

The Brazen Pirates of Somalia This year, close to 90 ships have been seized in and around the Gulf of Aden, more than triple the number of 2007“We welcome this important initiative which seeks to establish clear rules of engagement for flag States, ship owners, shipping associations, charterers, insurers, ship managers and agents, Private Maritime Security Companies and others. Also, the current indecision shown by European states on how to address the plight of refugees in danger of drowning in the Mediterranean reminds us of the expected adherence to the humanitarian obligations of ships’ captains” said David Wardrop, Chairman.

For several years, UNA Westminster has mentored and worked closely with World G18 Somalia, the UK’s leading apolitical Somali diaspora group. We have followed closely successive failures by the UN and the international maritime authorities to agree clear guidelines for the maritime community. UNA Westminster advised World G18 Somalia in its submission of evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee during its session examining piracy off the Somalia coast[1]. At the time, we were appalled by the state of confusion in which interested parties had to operate and the subsequent impact this had on impoverished Somali coastal communities. We are pleased that World G18 Somalia will also be supporting the Human Rights at Sea International Initiative.

For more information on the Human Rights at Sea Initiative, see here.

[1] See World G18 Somalia, News item, 5 January 2012  

 

12 October 2014 - UNA Westminster welcomes UN General Assembly decision to debate Hammarskjöld Commission

12 October 2014 UNA Westminster welcomes UN General Assembly decision to debate Hammarskjöld Commission
 

https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRHOdXls9sUiflgeLOpExPrhdWLABBh1vi2fI7a4BNmr1nFHdV44gUNA Westminster is pleased to note that the Report of the Hammarskjöld Commission will now be debated by the UN General Assembly on Monday 15 December (Agenda Item 128).

The position of UNA Westminster Branch in this matter was clarified by David Wardrop, Chairman, in our News Report (28 July). He stated “We are determined to support the principle of transparency within the UN system. To those who insist it is a waste of time to review such events from history, we would argue that the injustice felt at the time still resonates today. This relates to the role of the UN, to the treatment of colonised nations in Africa, to the conduct of the superpowers and also of multi-nationals.” To assist interested UN Member States prepare for the General Assembly debate, UNA Westminster held a briefing on 28 July in the House of Lords for diplomats from interested States. These included those from States whose troops served with ONUC in 1961; those whose troops are serving in the D.R.C. today with MONUSCO; members of the UN Security Council and those African States which have attained independence since 1961.

UNA Westminster has now informed ambassadors and high commissioners representing UN Member States in the above groups of the scheduled General Assembly debate.  

Members of the Hammarskjöld Commission:

The Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Sedley, UK (Chair), former Lord Justice of Appeal
Ambassador Hans Corell, Sweden, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs
Justice Richard Goldstone, South Africa, former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals
Justice Wilhelmina Thomassen, The Netherlands, a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights and of the Supreme Court of The Netherlands.

Scroll down here for the Briefing Note (28 July)


                                                                  

28 July 2014
House of Lords, London                                 Briefing for members of the Diplomatic Corps

How should the United Nations tackle the
2013 Report of the Hammarskjöld Commission?

Earlier this year, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was his duty to ask the General Assembly to put on its agenda the issue of the death of second Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld. ‘The unparalleled service and sacrifice of Dag Hammarskjöld and his legacy within the United Nations and beyond,’ he asserted, ‘compels us to seek the whole truth of the circumstances leading to his tragic death and that of the members of the party accompanying him.’ 

Ban Ki-moon made this statement after studying a report released in 2013 by the Hammarskjöld Commission – four retired jurists of the highest calibre and repute from different countries, working as a voluntary body, wholly free of any national or financial interests. They had examined the available evidence and concluded that the matter justifies further and fuller investigation. http://www.Hammarskjöld commission.org/report/

What is the background to Ban Ki-moon’s decision?

This document offers a short briefing for the diplomatic community, to facilitate advice to Governments and UN-based colleagues.
***

Flying on a UN mission to try to bring peace to the Congo, Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane crashed near Ndola airport in the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) on the night of 17-18 September 1961. All but one of the passengers and the Swedish crew were killed. The tragedy sent shock waves round the globe. The crash occurred eight months after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically-elected Prime Minister of the Congo, and in the context of a conflict in which UN troops from 30 nations were serving as a peacekeeping force in the Congo.

Questions were asked as details of the crash emerged. A number of local witnesses said they had seen a smaller plane near Ndola attack a larger one that night; there was one survivor, Harold Julien, who spoke of ‘sparks in the sky’ and said the plane 'blew up'. The late Knut Hammarskjöld, Dag’s nephew, who went to Ndola immediately after the crash, suspected foul play.

Three inquiries into the cause of the crash were conducted in 1961-62: two Rhodesian inquiries and one by the United Nations. The first Rhodesian inquiry was unable to determine a specific cause; and the second Rhodesian inquiry identified pilot error as the cause of the crash, on the basis of an elimination of other suggested causes. The UN inquiry delivered an open verdict, saying it was unable to rule out sabotage or attack; this prompted the General Assembly to pass resolution 1759 (XVII) of 26 October 1962, which requires the Secretary-General to inform the General Assembly of ‘any new evidence which may come to his attention’.

It has emerged that a mass of evidence relating to the crash and to Hammarskjöld’s death was concealed. The inquiries were conducted under particular circumstances, created by the reality of British colonial society in central and southern Africa. Among many of the whites of Northern and Southern Rhodesia, perceptions of what happened that night were influenced by their fear of African nationalism and their distrust of the UN, because of its efforts to help bring about majority rule and democracy.

In the early 1990s Ambassador Bengt Rösiö was asked by the Swedish Foreign Ministry to investigate Hammarskjöld’s death. His report in 1993 concluded that the pilot made an error in judgement regarding altitude. In 2012, however, following the release of photographs of Hammarskjöld after death, he cast doubt on this conclusion. http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article15451687.ab

 In the 53 years since the crash, a number of public figures, UN officials, historians and others have put a range of evidence and analysis into the public domain. In 2011, a University of London historian Susan Williams published Who Killed Hammarskjöld?, arguing the case for a fresh inquiry. Knut Hammarskjöld backed her case: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/sep/16/dag-Hammarskjöld -call-for-new-inquiry

This triggered an initiative by Lord Lea of Crondall to set up a new inquiry in accordance with UN Resolution 1759 (XVII); he was joined among others by Professor KG Hammar, former Archbishop of the Church of Sweden, HE Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the former Commonwealth Secretary-General; and Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames QC. A major donation was given by the renowned Swedish novelist Henning Mankell.

An independent body of distinguished senior jurists was set up, known as the Hammarskjöld Commission:

  • The Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Sedley of the UK (Chair), a former Lord Justice of Appeal
  •  Ambassador Hans Corell of Sweden, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs
  • Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa, a former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals
  • Justice Wilhelmina Thomassen of The Netherlands, a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights and of the Supreme Court of The Netherlands.

The Commission’s remit was to determine, on the basis of the evidence available, whether there was a case for re-opening the UN Inquiry of 1961-62, under the terms set out in UN Resolution 1759 (XVII) of 26 October 1962: http://www.Hammarskjöld commission.org/background/

The Commissioners worked pro bono and were assisted gratis by many experts and organisations. They reviewed a range of evidence and uncovered new material; Sir Stephen and Justice Goldstone went to Zambia to interview key informants.
On 9 September 2013, the Commission concluded its work and released a report. It asked, ‘does significant new evidence about Dag Hammarskjöld’s death exist?’ and gave a clear answer – ‘Undoubtedly it does’. ‘There is persuasive evidence,’ argued the report, ‘that the aircraft was subjected to some form of attack or threat as it circled to land at Ndola.’ It recommended the UN conduct a further investigation, with a particular focus on the declassification of intercept records held by the US National Security Agency (NSA) –‘confirming or refuting, from intercept records, the evidence indicating that the descent of the Secretary-General’s plane was brought about by some form of attack or threat. Such records appear, on the evidence currently available, to be held, if anywhere, in the United States.’  

The Commission made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the National Security Agency for such intercept records, which was refused. The Commission then appealed, but this was denied on grounds of exemption from the FOI Act (although there are specific examples of previously released intercept documents from the 1950s and 1960s: https://nsarchive.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/nsa-refuses-to-release-documents-on-mysterious-death-of-un-secretary-general-over-50-years-ago/). 

***
The Hammarskjöld Commission’s report was presented to the UN in September 2013 and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he would ‘closely study the findings’.

His response was affirmative. It was his assessment that the documentation presented by the Hammarskjöld Commission included new evidence. In February 2014, Ban Ki-moon asked the General Assembly to put the Commission’s report on its agenda:
http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/68/232

In March, he called on Member States ‘to declassify any relevant records in their possession’. It is possible that relevant records may be held by the USA, UK, Sweden, Belgium, South Africa and possibly others. http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/68/800

Ban Ki-moon set out to the General Assembly three options for a further inquiry:
“given the possibility that the new evidence already in the possession of the Secretary-General may lead to a conclusive finding about the current theories of the causes of the crash of the former Secretary-General’s plane, the General Assembly may wish to consider the following options: 
(a) To establish an independent panel of experts, including forensic and ballistics experts, to examine the new evidence, to assess its probative value and to make recommendations to the General Assembly; 
(b) To reopen the 1961-1962 Inquiry; or 
(c) To establish a new inquiry.”

In the view of the Hammarskjöld Commission, it would be a mistake for the UN to take up option 1, which would cover ground already covered. They advocate a new or reopened UN inquiry, to focus on where they have advised the key probably lies - the NSA's records.

UNA Westminster organised this Briefing for diplomats in London, the base of both the Hammarskjöld Commission and its commissioning Trust so that, if requested, they can report to their governments and UN-based colleagues with confidence. We invited diplomats from states whose troops served with ONUC in 1961 and those whose troops are serving with MONUSCO today; members of the UN Security Council; those African States which have attained independence since 1961, many involved in some way with the aftermath of the Congo crisis; and selected others. We believe all are responsible for respecting the invitation left open by their predecessors through UN General Assembly Resolution 1759 (XVII) of 26 October 1962. 


 

5 October 2014 - We the Peoples Film Festival opens ninth season at BFI on 8 November

5 October 2014 We the Peoples Film Festival opens ninth season at BFI on 8 November

The We the Peoples Film Festival has launched its 9th programme of independent new films to be screened in eight venues across London. The festival is a project of the United Nations Association Westminster Branch and its programming follows themes which underpin the Three Pillars of Freedom set out by the United Nations; freedom from want, freedom from fear and the freedom to live in dignity. Each film selected links to one of these UN Pillars of Freedom.    

The popular Young Peoples Day hosted by the BFI Southbank will open the festival on Saturday 8 November. This free event attracts those in the 15-25 age group, offering master-classes and the opportunity to enter the #tweetapitch competition for a £500 bursary towards making a new film, to be screened at next year’s festival. The programme includes the new British film Sixteen (dir: Rob Brown) which follows former Congolese child soldier, 16 year-old Jumah, as he seeks to build a new life in London. 

Ravensbourne University in Greenwich will screen A Russian Fairytale which faithfully follows the mixed up lives of street kids in Perm. Director Jake Mobbs, highly praised by veteran Russian filmmaker Andrei Smirnov, will join the audience for a post screening Q and A. The Platform Bar in London Fields E8, will premiere Voices across the Wall (dir: Sam Liebmann) along with Happiness wrapped in a Blanket (dir: Josi Artzi). Both directors will attend the screening. The Water Poet, the popular pub inSpitalfields, will screen a selection of films on children’s issues.

University College London, Bloomsbury will host a mini-festival of short films and screenings are also scheduled for the London School of Economics (LSE), the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and the College of North West London. The complete programme with news of those who will participate in the popular post-screening Q and A sessions will be posted on the Festival website at www.wethepeoples.org.uk 

Festival contacts             
Director            Vivienne Eka            
info@wethepeoples.org.uk
Co-ordinator     Karin Pointner          karin@eventcourse.com
Administrator   David Wardrop          davidwardrop@bulldoghome.com
Tel: 0207 385 6738 / 07932 664335


 

 

21 September 2014 - Flights for Peace

21 September 2014 UNA Westminster Branch flies high to mark the UN International Day of Peace
 
On Sunday, UNA Westminster Branch repeated its Flights for Peace adventure, using the Emirates Air Line, the cable car service which links the O2 Arena and the Royal Docks. Over a hundred people responded to our challenge to meet people with a different faith, ethnicity or even age to take the opportunity to ask ‘those questions they had always wanted to ask’. “We made sure each group of four or five flyers comprised a mix of faiths –or none, and different ethnic origin.” said David Wardrop, UNA Westminster Chairman. “After check-in at the Greenwich Peninsula Prayer Space, groups took off for the north side and then took tea and biscuits at the nearby Crowne Plaza Hotel. Our fears that some flyers might not get on with each other and choose an early flight back were unfounded. In fact, we had to call time on them all ninety minutes later than planned! We were delighted.”




Upon return, every flyer was presented with a Flight for Peace Certificate of Airworthiness. Flights for Peace was one of several events co-ordinated by the London Boroughs Faith Network (LBFN) to mark the UN International Day of Peace. The London Peace Conference held at St Ethelburga’s Centre was a sell-out and over the weekend, churches, mosques and synagogues opened their doors to all-comers. UNA Westminster has worked closely with the LBFN since the London Olympic Games in 2012. See News Item, 16 August 2012 and What we do, event reports/2012.


 

 

5 August 2014 - UNA Westminster announces its position on the Gaza tragedy

5 August 2014 UNA Westminster announces its position on the Gaza tragedy
 
                                                                               


“UNA Westminster welcomes the bold words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in describing the attack on a UN-run school in Gaza as "a moral outrage and a criminal act". Each year, we mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers with the first wreath laid in memory of Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN’s first mediator in Palestine, who was assassinated in 1948. Those who killed him failed to bring peace as have all subsequent military initiatives by Israel and others.

As European nations mark the centenary of the start of the mistakenly called ‘war to end all wars’, we reflect that a lasting peace needs more than military victory. That peace will only come about through the recognition of the principle of justice for all and the acceptance and implementation of norms of international law.

For a month, we have watched helplessly the suffering endured by innocent people in Gaza and welcome the latest truce to end a conflict which surely has now reached stalemate.

UNA Westminster welcomes the call by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius for a political solution to the crisis to be "imposed" by the international community. We urge HMG and all parties to show similar resolve and to deploy their political and diplomatic pressure to force Hamas and the Israel government to honour the new ceasefire and, through the authority of the United Nations Security Council, to support the introduction of international monitors to impose it.”

 

 

28 July 2014 - UNA Westminster briefs diplomats on Hammarskjöld Commission Report

UNA Westminster briefs diplomats on Hammarskjöld Commission Report
 

28 July 2014  UNA Westminster has hosted a briefing in the House of Lords for London-based diplomats on the Report of the Hammarskjöld Commission. This was presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in November 2013 who, after careful study, has been persuaded that it introduces ‘new evidence’ of events leading up to the death in 1961 of UN SG Dag Hammarskjöld in a plane crash as he sought to bring peace in the Congo, now the D.R.C, and on subsequent initiatives to ascertain the cause of the accident. Lord Marks of Henley-on Thames, a member of the former Hammarskjöld Trust, led diplomats Text Box: The wreckage of the Swedish DC-6 carrying UN S-G Hammarskjold in a forest near Ndola (Zambia)Dag Hammarskjöld plane wreckagethough the sequence of events. Referring to a briefing document (below), he noted that UN SG Ban Ki-Moon had suggested three options for a further inquiry: to establish an independent panel of experts, including forensic and ballistics experts, to examine the new evidence, to assess its probative value and to make recommendations to the General Assembly; to reopen the 1961-1962 Inquiry; or to establish a new inquiry. Lord Marks drew attention to the recommendation of the Hammarskjöld Commission[1] which pointed to where further important evidence might be most easily found. With the first option surely too cumbersome, covering ground already exhaustively explored, he suggested that either of the two other options would be preferable.

The role of UNA Westminster Branch in this matter was clarified by David Wardrop, its Chairman.  “We are determined to support the principle of transparency within the UN system. To those who insist it is a waste of time to review such events from history, we would argue that the injustice felt at the time still resonates today. This relates to the role of the UN, to the treatment of colonised nations in Africa, to the conduct of the superpowers and also of multi nationals. In selecting diplomats to attend the briefing, we invited those from States whose troops served with ONUC in 1961 and those whose troops are serving with MONUSCO today. Also, members of the UN Security Council and those African States which have attained independence since 1961, many involved in some way with the aftermath of the continuing Congo crisis, and some other States. Through this briefing, diplomats can more easily assist their UN-based colleagues in selecting a best course of action during the UN General Assembly’s 69th Session which commences in September 2014. We encourage all to respect and take up the invitation made by their predecessors through UN GA Resolution 1759 (XVII) of 26 October 1962.”

[1] The Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Sedley, UK (Chair), former Lord Justice of Appeal; Ambassador Hans Corell, Sweden, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs; Justice Richard Goldstone, South Africa, former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals; Justice Wilhelmina Thomassen, The Netherlands, a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights and of the Supreme Court of The Netherlands.

Scroll down here for the Briefing Note

 

United Nations Association
Westminster Branch
Campaigning for a strong, credible and effective UN
                                                                  

28 July 2014
House of Lords, London                                 Briefing for members of the Diplomatic Corps

How should the United Nations tackle the
2013 Report of the Hammarskjöld Commission?

Earlier this year, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was his duty to ask the General Assembly to put on its agenda the issue of the death of second Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld. ‘The unparalleled service and sacrifice of Dag Hammarskjöld and his legacy within the United Nations and beyond,’ he asserted, ‘compels us to seek the whole truth of the circumstances leading to his tragic death and that of the members of the party accompanying him.’ 

Ban Ki-moon made this statement after studying a report released in 2013 by the Hammarskjöld Commission – four retired jurists of the highest calibre and repute from different countries, working as a voluntary body, wholly free of any national or financial interests. They had examined the available evidence and concluded that the matter justifies further and fuller investigation. http://www.Hammarskjöld commission.org/report/

What is the background to Ban Ki-moon’s decision?

This document offers a short briefing for the diplomatic community, to facilitate advice to Governments and UN-based colleagues.
***

Flying on a UN mission to try to bring peace to the Congo, Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane crashed near Ndola airport in the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) on the night of 17-18 September 1961. All but one of the passengers and the Swedish crew were killed. The tragedy sent shock waves round the globe. The crash occurred eight months after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically-elected Prime Minister of the Congo, and in the context of a conflict in which UN troops from 30 nations were serving as a peacekeeping force in the Congo.

Questions were asked as details of the crash emerged. A number of local witnesses said they had seen a smaller plane near Ndola attack a larger one that night; there was one survivor, Harold Julien, who spoke of ‘sparks in the sky’ and said the plane 'blew up'. The late Knut Hammarskjöld, Dag’s nephew, who went to Ndola immediately after the crash, suspected foul play.

 

 

 

Three inquiries into the cause of the crash were conducted in 1961-62: two Rhodesian inquiries and one by the United Nations. The first Rhodesian inquiry was unable to determine a specific cause; and the second Rhodesian inquiry identified pilot error as the cause of the crash, on the basis of an elimination of other suggested causes. The UN inquiry delivered an open verdict, saying it was unable to rule out sabotage or attack; this prompted the General Assembly to pass resolution 1759 (XVII) of 26 October 1962, which requires the Secretary-General to inform the General Assembly of ‘any new evidence which may come to his attention’.

It has emerged that a mass of evidence relating to the crash and to Hammarskjöld’s death was concealed. The inquiries were conducted under particular circumstances, created by the reality of British colonial society in central and southern Africa. Among many of the whites of Northern and Southern Rhodesia, perceptions of what happened that night were influenced by their fear of African nationalism and their distrust of the UN, because of its efforts to help bring about majority rule and democracy.

In the early 1990s Ambassador Bengt Rösiö was asked by the Swedish Foreign Ministry to investigate Hammarskjöld’s death. His report in 1993 concluded that the pilot made an error in judgement regarding altitude. In 2012, however, following the release of photographs of Hammarskjöld after death, he cast doubt on this conclusion. http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article15451687.ab

 In the 53 years since the crash, a number of public figures, UN officials, historians and others have put a range of evidence and analysis into the public domain. In 2011, a University of London historian Susan Williams published Who Killed Hammarskjöld?, arguing the case for a fresh inquiry. Knut Hammarskjöld backed her case: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/sep/16/dag-Hammarskjöld -call-for-new-inquiry

This triggered an initiative by Lord Lea of Crondall to set up a new inquiry in accordance with UN Resolution 1759 (XVII); he was joined among others by Professor KG Hammar, former Archbishop of the Church of Sweden, HE Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the former Commonwealth Secretary-General; and Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames QC. A major donation was given by the renowned Swedish novelist Henning Mankell.

An independent body of distinguished senior jurists was set up, known as the Hammarskjöld Commission:

  • The Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Sedley of the UK (Chair), a former Lord Justice of Appeal
  •  Ambassador Hans Corell of Sweden, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs
  • Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa, a former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals
  • Justice Wilhelmina Thomassen of The Netherlands, a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights and of the Supreme Court of The Netherlands.

The Commission’s remit was to determine, on the basis of the evidence available, whether there was a case for re-opening the UN Inquiry of 1961-62, under the terms set out in UN Resolution 1759 (XVII) of 26 October 1962: http://www.Hammarskjöld commission.org/background/

 

The Commissioners worked pro bono and were assisted gratis by many experts and organisations. They reviewed a range of evidence and uncovered new material; Sir Stephen and Justice Goldstone went to Zambia to interview key informants.
On 9 September 2013, the Commission concluded its work and released a report. It asked, ‘does significant new evidence about Dag Hammarskjöld’s death exist?’ and gave a clear answer – ‘Undoubtedly it does’. ‘There is persuasive evidence,’ argued the report, ‘that the aircraft was subjected to some form of attack or threat as it circled to land at Ndola.’ It recommended the UN conduct a further investigation, with a particular focus on the declassification of intercept records held by the US National Security Agency (NSA) –‘confirming or refuting, from intercept records, the evidence indicating that the descent of the Secretary-General’s plane was brought about by some form of attack or threat. Such records appear, on the evidence currently available, to be held, if anywhere, in the United States.’  

The Commission made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the National Security Agency for such intercept records, which was refused. The Commission then appealed, but this was denied on grounds of exemption from the FOI Act (although there are specific examples of previously released intercept documents from the 1950s and 1960s: https://nsarchive.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/nsa-refuses-to-release-documents-on-mysterious-death-of-un-secretary-general-over-50-years-ago/). 

***
The Hammarskjöld Commission’s report was presented to the UN in September 2013 and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he would ‘closely study the findings’.

His response was affirmative. It was his assessment that the documentation presented by the Hammarskjöld Commission included new evidence. In February 2014, Ban Ki-moon asked the General Assembly to put the Commission’s report on its agenda:
http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/68/232

In March, he called on Member States ‘to declassify any relevant records in their possession’. It is possible that relevant records may be held by the USA, UK, Sweden, Belgium, South Africa and possibly others. http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/68/800

Ban Ki-moon set out to the General Assembly three options for a further inquiry:
“given the possibility that the new evidence already in the possession of the Secretary-General may lead to a conclusive finding about the current theories of the causes of the crash of the former Secretary-General’s plane, the General Assembly may wish to consider the following options: 
(a) To establish an independent panel of experts, including forensic and ballistics experts, to examine the new evidence, to assess its probative value and to make recommendations to the General Assembly; 
(b) To reopen the 1961-1962 Inquiry; or 
(c) To establish a new inquiry.”

In the view of the Hammarskjöld Commission, it would be a mistake for the UN to take up option 1, which would cover ground already covered. They advocate a new or reopened UN inquiry, to focus on where they have advised the key probably lies - the NSA's records.

UNA Westminster organised this Briefing for diplomats in London, the base of both the Hammarskjöld Commission and its commissioning Trust so that, if requested, they can report to their governments and UN-based colleagues with confidence. We invited diplomats from states whose troops served with ONUC in 1961 and those whose troops are serving with MONUSCO today; members of the UN Security Council; those African States which have attained independence since 1961, many involved in some way with the aftermath of the Congo crisis; and selected others. We believe all are responsible for respecting the invitation left open by their predecessors through UN General Assembly Resolution 1759 (XVII) of 26 October 1962. 

 

26 July 2014 - UNA Westminster joins UK faith groups protesting desecration of holy places 

UNA Westminster joins UK faith groups protesting desecration of holy places
 

UNA Westminster plans to work more closely with UK-based faith groups seeking to halt the desecration of shrines and other holy sites. Initial links were made in 2012 during the London Olympics through the London Boroughs Faith Network (LBFN) which organised the first-ever opening of mosques in London to mark the United Nations International Day of Peace, an initiative followed by mosques throughout Europe and as far away as Pakistan. (Image from justpaste.it)                         (Image from justpaste.it)







Bulldozers demolish Islamic and Christian holy places in Mosul (RT News)

The International Day was marked in 2013 (News item, 22 Sept) and UNA Westminster Chairman, David Wardrop, addressed a meeting held by Save Muslim Heritage following the desecration of the shrine and grave of Hujr Ibn Adi, Companion of the Prophet Mohamed, in Damascus. Since then, more sacred sites have been wilfully destroyed, in Syria and Iraq. 

“We now wish to mobilise the wider UK community to recognise that any attack on a holy shrine, of whichever faith, is an attack on all.” said David Wardrop, Chairman, UNA Westminster. “We applaud and support statements made by the UNESCO Director-General on these foul acts but there are other organisations and groups which need to speak out too. Also, we will urge our government to clarify its stance on critical UN and international instruments which set out to proscribe such acts.”

Leadership within UNA Westminster on this issue will be taken by its newly-formed UN and Faith Committee to which interested UNA Westminster members will be invited to join.     
    
For more information, contact info@unawestminster.org.uk

To view the work of Save Muslim Heritage, please visit www.savemuslimheritage.org.uk 

1 July 2014 - UNA Westminster branch mourns death of Vice-President Ben Whittaker

UNA Westminster branch mourns death of Vice-President Ben Whittaker
 


UNA  Westminster  Branch  members were saddened to  learn  of  the  death  of  Ben  Whittaker CBE on 8 June. He  practised  as  a  barrister  and  in  1966  was  elected  as the  first ever Labour MP for the  safe  Conservative  seat  of  Hampstead.  After  his  parliamentary  career  during  which  he  was  appointed  parliamentary  private  secretary  to  Anthony  Greenwood,  Minister  of  Overseas  Development  and  later  to  be  a  Junior  Minister,  Ben  Whittaker  became  the  energetic Director of the Minority Rights Group, campaigning for human rights worldwide.  He served on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for fifteen  years during  which time he was the UK representative on the UN sub‐committee on minorities’ rights.  Later,  he  became  Executive  Director  of  the  UK  branch  of  the  Calouste  Gulbenkian  Foundation.  

  An admirer of George Orwell, Whitaker was a leading member of a memorial trust, which  erected a plaque to the writer in Hampstead. He was made a Commander of the British  Empire (CBE) in the New Year's Honours 2000 for  "services to Human Rights and to the  Voluntary Sector". He became a Vice‐President of UNA Westminster at that time. 

  Ben Whittaker was married to Janet who was raised to the peerage in 1999 as Baroness  Whitaker of Beeston. She is a valuable member of the All‐Party Parliamentary Group on the  United Nations. The Branch Chairman, David Wardrop, has written a letter of condolence to  Baroness Whittaker.  

26 June 2014 - Branch Meeting: ‘Does the UK have a credible race equality strategy or is a new vision required?

26 June 2014 UNA Westminster questions political parties on their race policy
 
In a packed meeting in the House of Lords chaired by Lord Herman Ouseley an expert panel tackled the subject Does the UK have a credible race equality strategy or is a new vision required? The meeting was themed around the UK's obligations under the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Lord Ouseley, in welcoming the work of CERD and the opportunity it afforded to apply pressure on Government, questioned whether the UK has a coherent strategy on race let alone a vision. He feared that the decline of the ethnic minority voluntary sector would make it more difficult to make an impact. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was represented by Rachel Zaltzman, Head of its Human Rights and Respect programme, who explained how civil society could use the CERD mechanisms to influence UK policy on race. EHRC in its role as a National Human Rights Institution was seeking to facilitate Government compliance with CERD recommendations on hate crime, educational under-achievement, stop and search and issues relating to Gypsies and travellers. She stressed the role of civil society in monitoring institutions’ performance on race issues and urged greater use of the provisions of the public sector equality duty.

Barbara Cohen, a former UK NGO delegate to CERD, said that the key tenets of UK race relations law were set out in the CERD Treaty as drafted in the 1960s. Noting the UN recognises NGO concerns, she urged maximum participation in the next state examination due in 2015.

Baroness Thornton, a Labour Party equalities spokesperson, argued that race issues had suffered badly after the Government stopped monitoring the impact of its policies. An incoming Labour Government would reintroduce equality impact assessments and lead a major drive to improve ethnic minority representation in key institutions such as the police, judiciary and the civil service.

Journalist Lester Holloway argued that the country's growing ethnic minority population would have a big sway on the UK's electoral politics in the future, as with the pensioners’ vote, it would be unwise of politicians to neglect or take for granted this powerful voting force.

The numerous contributions from the large audience included a robust debate around affirmative action vs. positive discrimination and the need for a level playing field. Concerns were expressed about the lack of access to legal assistance to fight discrimination cases and for the declining career progression/life chances options for certain ethnic minority groups, especially since the economic downturn. Others highlighted the cultural, economic and social origins of discrimination, including disadvantages faced by white working class males.

In thanking the speakers, David Wardrop, UNA Westminster Chair, observed that the UK had never fully followed up the recommendations of the ill-fated UN World Conference on Racism (Durban 2001) which ended only days before the 9/11 attacks on New York. From that time, he observed, the Government's overall narrative had shifted from tackling issues of racial inequality to combating terrorism and that this largely remained the case today.

1 April 2014 - Annual UN Peacekeepers Day conference to examine UK participation in UN peacekeeping roles

11th annual conference on UN Peacekeeping to assess the UK’s potential role in UN Peacekeeping


The 11th annual conference to mark the International day of UN Peacekeepers, organised by UNA Westminster in association with and hosted by the Royal Institute of Strategic Studies (RUSI) will concentrate on how UK armed forces and other expertise might respond to renewed UN requests to the UK and similar Member States contribute to its current peace support missions.

As the UK completes its military withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, requests for its support for UN peacekeeping and other peace support programmes will surely follow. Techniques developed in both countries, principally in civil-military co-operation (CIMIC), have been necessarily country-specific and their applicability to other UN peace support operations has yet to be tested.

Since the UK was last involved in UN peace support activities, the UN has changed much. It has introduced in the DRC the Intervention Brigade and deployed observation UAVs, bringing it a new identity and commitment, one demanding logistic expertise and co-ordination. The adoption of the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty (1999) has not halted their widespread deployment, causing suffering to soldiers and civilians alike and led to development of new troop carrying vehicles. Field hospitals for combat casualties and those in the many enormous refugee camps need to benefit from experience gained in trauma treatment and field surgery. Advances in implementing US Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace and Security) are widespread but patchy as indeed are those of the UK. And in both security sector reform and in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), UN force commanders have been given more robust mandates. Further, the rapid increase in UN police staff has greatly altered the ‘mix’ of UN peace support mandates.

So how can the UK play a greater role in UN Peacekeeping, consistent with its status as a Permanent Member of the Security Council, an identity which makes it a target for its critics? Our 11th Annual Conference to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers will feature an informed review of the UK’s options and how these might fit the UN’s requirements. Experts in military and police matters will share views on how the UK can both share its expertise with other nations and also where it might learn from them. Later, a senior officer in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office will deliver the annual Folke Bernadotte Memorial Lecture, giving indications of developing UK policy on these issues. Registration can be made direct to RUSI at www.rusi.org/events.

1 April 2014 - UNA Westminster to host website of Hammarskjöld Commission


From 1 April, UNA Westminster Branch will host the website of the Hammarskjöld Commission which comprises all documentation relating to the work of the four-person Commission. The Commission was set up to assess whether evidence now available would justify the United Nations in reopening its inquiry into the death of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 1759 (XVII) of 26 October 1962. The Commission comprised the Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Sedley, a former Lord Justice of Appeal (Chairman), Hans Corell, former Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the Legal Counsel of the United Nations, Justice Richard Goldstone, the first Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and Justice Wilhelmina Thomassen who served as a judge of the European Court of Human Rights.

The Commission presented its Report at the Peace Palace in The Hague on 9 September 2013. The Report had been commissioned by the Hammarskjöld Inquiry Trust established to raise and administer funds to support the independent work of the Hammarskjöld Commission. The Trust’s Chairman, Lord Lea of Crondall, presented the Report to UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on 3 October. On 11 February 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon sent a letter to the President of the General Assembly requesting that the Report should be included in the agenda of its current session since “new evidence… has come to his attention.”

On 2 September 2011, UNA Westminster together with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies of the School of Advanced Study, University of London and the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation at Uppsala organised a conference to mark the 50th anniversary of Hammarskjöld’s death titled Dag Hammarskjöld, the United Nations and the End of Empire. On that day, the author Susan Williams published her book Who killed Hammarskjöld which in part led to the creation of the Hammarskjöld Inquiry Trust which set up the Hammarskjöld Commission.

3 March 2014 - Annual International Law Lecture reports on Human Rights in Libya and on the high seas

Annual International Law Lecture includes reports on guidance for Human Rights agencies in Libya and for the international maritime community
The 12th Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law Lecture was delivered on 3 March 2014 by David Hammond, barrister at 9 Bedford Row International, who titled his address Establishing human rights in post-revolution states and international waters. In introducing his work in Libya which has no previous experience of a functioning civil society, he stated that State development is slower than would otherwise be expected. In 2011, human rights problems resulted from the absence of effective justice and security institutions. Impunity remains a serious problem. Transnational justice is also slow and effective investigations appear to be rare with few prosecutions being undertaken.

Mr Hammond advises the independent Libyan National Council for Civil Liberties and Human Rights (NCCLHR) which experts praise for its “comprehensive mandate”, comparing favourably to the Egyptian quasi-governmental National Council for Human Rights. In January 2014, it adopted the “Declaration of Adoption of the UN Guiding Principles for business and human rights”, the first human rights organisation to address the issue of human rights and business in the Maghreb.

He then turned to the new international initiative he is delivering of “Human Rights at Sea”, asserting that their perceived extension from the land to the maritime environment should be regarded as a natural progression of an evolving practice in terms of raising international maritime standards and the assurance of seafarers’ safety and protections worldwide. Despite the “Freedom of the High Seas” provided by the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), there is a lacuna in available international and independent information for the maritime community concerning human rights. Since 2008, over 4000 Seafarers have reportedly been held hostage by pirates around the world. The protection and safety of seafarers are also the focus of several maritime supporting organisations. To address this lacuna, Mr Hammond’s team will introduce a set of Model Guiding Principles which, voluntary in their use, will be developed for the benefit of the international community, as well as the entire maritime industry. This international model precedent covers an international model maritime set of Rules for the Use of Force (RUF) otherwise known as the “100 Series Rules”. The new “Human Rights at Sea” initiative will aim to raise the issue of due consideration of human rights matters in daily commercial maritime business. It will assist masters, ship owners, insurance companies and other interested State, non-State and third-party private entities, including commercial activities of Private Maritime Security Companies employing Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel, as well as unarmed security personnel with education and understanding of human rights standards and requirements.

David Wardrop, Chairman of the UNA Westminster, thanked the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS and the International Committee of the Bar Council of England and Wales for their continuing and valuable support. A longer report complete with useful hyperlinks is posted under What we do, together with the podcast of the lecture and the Q & A session.

2013

30 September 2013 - UNA Westminster critiques FCO Report on the Olympic Truce – London 2012

UNA Westminster critiques FCO Report on the Olympic Truce – London 2012

UNA Westminster has now submitted supplementary written submission to the  House of Lords Committee on Olympic and Paralympic Legacy following the recent  publication of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Report on the Olympic Truce,    The Report had been expected much earlier in the year and the Committee agreed  to receive this further submission. 

  “It  is  disappointing  that  the  Report  has  been so  gravely  delayed” says  David  Wardrop, Chairman, UNA Westminster Branch. “If it had been published in the  Spring as promised, it would have been help to the Russians and also the recent 125th IOC Session held  in Buenos Aires.” 

In its supplementary submission, UNA Westminster    
a) suggests the IOC and the IOTC  Foundation to be unfit for purpose  in this  important and    historically symbolic aspect of the Olympic legacy and urges the Committee to comment on this, 
 b) notes that the British Olympic Association has now taken responsibility for the Olympic Truce    strand and shares its disappointment that the first issue of the Olympic & Paralympic Newsletter    has no reference to the Truce strand,  
c) invites the Committee to request a response from LOCOG to our critique,   
d) noting that the UN General Assembly has approved by consensus that an International Day of    Sport for Development and Peace will now be celebrated each year on 6 April, the date of the    opening of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, suggests the Committee ask    HMG  how  it  intends  to  promote  this,  with  what  funding  and  with  what  proposed    outcome.  

The supplementary written submission together with the initial submission and useful links to the House  of Lords Committee can be found in What We Do/Event Reports/2013 on the Main menu.  

27 September 2013 - UNA Westminster urges support for the Save Muslim Heritage movement

UNA Westminster urges support for the Save Muslim Heritage movement

The inaugural meeting of the Save Muslim Heritage movement held on the  Guy’s  and  St  Thomas’s  campus was triggered by the desecration of the  shrine and grave of Hujr Ibn Adi, Companion of the Prophet Mohamed,  located  in  Damascus.  David  Wardrop,  Chairman  of  UNA  Westminster  Branch, noted that all five UNESCO recognised World Heritage sites in Syria  were now on the Endangered List. They are the cities of Aleppo, Damascus  and  Bosra  and  the  villages  in  Northern  Syria  and  the  castles  of  the  crusaders  and  Saladin.  Already,  the  great  mosque  in  Aleppo  has  been  totally destroyed. He informed the audience that although it is the duty of the state to secure World  Heritage sites, it is generally accepted that non‐state actors, probably from the Al Nusra brigade, who  were responsible for this abominable act. He referred to the recent statement by the Director‐General  of UNESCO deploring this act. Later, he referred to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural  Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, specifically the 2nd Protocol (1999) which in Article 6, section c  states the decision to invoke imperative military necessity shall only be taken by an officer commanding  a force the equivalent of a battalion in size or larger, or a force smaller in size where circumstances do  not permit otherwise. “This ensures that culpability is identifiable.” he said, adding “However, Syria is  not party to this Protocol ‐ and nor is the UK!” 

He urged the large audience of young Muslims to support the new movement, offering a number of  initiatives that could be taken immediately. These included writing to the Director‐General of the Islamic  States for Education, Science and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) which has yet to comment on these  atrocities; seek  a meeting  with  Islamic  ambassadors to  London to stress the responsibility  of their  governments  in  harbouring such  terrorists;  and,  in  the  context  of  the  2nd  Protocol  to  the  Hague  Convention (above), to identify Muslim sites, both covered by the World Heritage Convention and those  not, and to catalogue these, thus assisting in approaches to foundations who might deploy influence and  funds to support the new movement.  

22 September 2013 - Flights for Peace across Thames mark UN International Day of Peace

Flights for Peace across Thames mark UN International Day of Peace

UNA  Westminster  Branch  organised the  Flights  for Peace initiative to mark the UN International  Day of Peace, properly 21 September.   Working  with the London Peace Network and the Christian  Muslim Forum, we arranged with TFL, operator of  the Emirates Air Line to use its cable car service  crossing  the  Thames  from  North  Greenwich to  the Royal Docks. People from different faiths or  no faith and from different cultures and countries  shared  cabins  for  the  ten  minute  northbound  journey. As well as taking in the great views over  London, all learned about each other’s views on  key issues including faith. Upon landing at Royal  Docks, discussions continued over tea and cakes  at the Crystal, the new sustainable cities initiative  built by Siemens. After about an hour, they took  the  return  flight  to  Greenwich  where  all  received a Flight for Peace Certificate. “By talking  to  people  from  different  faiths  and  asking  questions  in  such  a  relaxed  way,  we  were  exploring  outside  our  own  comfort  zones  and  bringing  about  better  understanding.”  said  Vivienne Eka, Secretary of UNA Westminster Branch. Flights for Peace was one of a series of events  organised to mark the UN International Day of Peace. A compilation of these can be found in What we  Do/Event Reports in the main menu.  

10 July 2013 - UNA Westminster sends submission to House of Lords Committee reviewing the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy

UNA Westminster sends submission to House of Lords Committee reviewing the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy
 
UNA  Westminster,  a  strong  supporter  of  programmes  to  promote  the  Olympic Truce strand at the time of the London 2012 Games, has submitted  its written submission to the House of Lords Committee. In introducing its  submission,  UNA  Westminster states  “In  seeking  to  promote  the  Truce  strand of the Olympic message, the UK government   and  LOCOG set  out  to ‘raise the bar’ and so leave a clear legacy for future Olympic host cities.  Even though the bar concerned had been very low or not even in place, the  UK’s  commitment should  be  applauded. However, together, we failed to  identify a strategy against which we could measure our performance, reducing the value of our efforts  to future Olympic host cities. Even so, the UK consciously set out to flag the importance of the Truce  strand and future efforts to continue this mission will surely benefit from its various initiatives.” 

 The submission catalogued successes and failures in the handling of the Olympic Truce programme, It  critiqued the performance of LOCOG and the FCO on matters relating to the Get Set programme, the  lack  of  engagement  of  devolved  government,  the  poor  leadership  of  the  International  Olympic  Committee (IOC), the absence of reference to the Olympic Truce in the 2012 Official Book introduced by  Lord Coe and The Games which covered also the Paralympics; the lack of Olympic memorabilia relating  to the Truce; the clashing promotional priorities faced by UK embassies posed by the twin messages of  the Great programme and the Olympic Truce; the elitism of the location of the Olympic Truce wall; the  lack of a prepared guide for future host cities; and poor liaison with the NGO community.   

2 July - Fred Eckhard recalls life with Kofi Annan and introduces Burkino Faso charity

Fred Eckhard recalls life with Kofi Annan and introduces Burkino Faso charity

In his address to the Westminster Branch titled From the UN’s 38th floor to the streets of Burkina Faso, Fred Eckhard recalled his ten years working with Kofi Annan which gave him unique insight to the UN Secretary-General’s personality and his remarkable strengths.

After retiring from the UN in 2005, he started on his book on Annan, asking himself, “Who is this man?” He could turn to two excellent books, by James Traub and Stanley Meisler, and an earlier penetrating profile in The New Yorker by Philip Gourevitch who had written of Annan “He is at once intensely present and personable and curiously detached.” Eckhard observed that clearly he would have to try to invade Annan’s personal space and if so, he should start at the beginning. He summarised for his audience Annan’s early life in Ghana and to his work with the UN in Geneva and later New York.

Fred Eckhard then introduced his work with Chance for Change, a new charity founded in 2011 to provide financial aid for the higher education of young women in Burkina Faso, not only one of the world’s poorest countries but ranking last in adult female literacy. “Without our support, the girls we sponsor would receive no continued education” he said. All operating costs are borne by board members so every penny donated goes to the girls of Burkina Faso. Fred Eckhard, CEO and co-founder, makes regular trips to Koudougou and Ouagadougou, two of the largest cities in Burkina Faso. He visits the sponsored girls, their families, schools and teachers to track their progress and monitor their needs. He also maintains close relationships with the directors of several secondary schools and universities in these cities. He conducts interviews and supplies applications for potential recipients. After review and approval, Chance for Change pays tuition and supplies a modest allowance for books, supplies, housing, and transportation based on the needs of each individual student (c.US$2000 per year). By regular visits and the support of associates in Burkina Faso, Chance for Change is able to maintain a close relationship with the sponsored girls and their families.

After his address, Fred Eckhard engaged in lively discussion shared with amongst others Edward Mortimer, Kofi Annan’s speechwriter; Tina Mickelthwait, former Director, UN Information Centre in London; and Lord Hannay, former UK Permanent Representative to the UN who chaired the meeting.

For Mr Eckhard’s complete address, go to What we do/Event Reports.

For more information, info@chanceforchangecharity.org

Fred Eckhard’s book Kofi Annan, A Spokesperson’s Memoir was published in New York in January 2013.

2 June 2013 - Former Royal Navy Commander urges UK to lead world from nuclear abyss

Where next for Nuclear Disarmament? - Commander Robert Green, RN Ret’d
'In a wide-ranging review, Robert Green began by explaining why he became one of very few ex- Commanders with nuclear weapon experience to come out against them. Then he reminded us of the nuclear arsenals still held by nine states, and the associated threats to security from their determination to modernise them; and he highlighted the fact that, over 25 years after the end of the Cold War, the US and Russia each still keep about 1,000 strategic warheads on high alert. After summarising his arguments supporting his conclusion that nuclear deterrence is a huge hoax first devised by the US military-industrial complex to perpetuate its vested interest in producing nuclear weapons and delivery systems, Cdr Green outlined why he feels some optimism for the future. Examples included a groundbreaking conference in Oslo in March, where 127 government delegations heard the President of the ICRC declare that, because no capability exists to help survivors of even a single nuclear weapon detonation, "prevention - including development of a legally binding treaty to prohibit and eliminate such weapons - is the only way forward." Green also made a compelling case for the UK to lead the world away from the nuclear abyss by not replacing Trident, drawing an analogy with British leadership in the struggle to abolish slavery.'

Commander Robert Green served for twenty years in the British Royal Navy from 1962-82. As a bombardier-navigator, he flew in Buccaneer nuclear strike aircraft and anti-submarine helicopters. On promotion to Commander in 1978, he worked in the Ministry of Defence before his final appointment as Staff Officer (Intelligence) to the Commander-in-Chief Fleet during the Falklands War. Commander Green chaired the UK affiliate of the World Court Project (1991-2004), an international citizen campaign which led to the International Court of Justice judgment in 1996 that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be illegal. From 1998-2002 he was Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Middle Powers Initiative.

Now Co-Director with his wife, Dr Kate Dewes ONZM, of the Disarmament & Security Centre in New Zealand, he is the author of The Naked Nuclear Emperor: Debunking Nuclear Deterrence, and Fast Track to Zero Nuclear Weapons: The Middle Powers Initiative. His latest book, Security Without Nuclear Deterrence, was published in 2010, and has been translated into Japanese. The foreword to the book is jointly written by General Sir High Beach, Ret’d and Lord Ramsbotham, also a former General.

The meeting was chaired by Lord Richard of Ammanford. After the meeting, UNA Youth held its Annual General Meeting.

14 February 2013 - UNA Westminster adds 100,000+ new websites

UNA Westminster links to Better World Links and 100,000+ new websites
14 February 2013 UNA Westminster has added a link to Better World Links, the non-profit website providing an easy-to-use, comprehensive internet directory of over 100,000 links giving quick and easy access to global current affairs topics and much more. It is the leading web-site of its kind in the world. See our links page.

Better World Links began as the German website Norbert's Bookmarks for a Better World in 1996. This unique collection of links to interesting articles and websites was the brainchild of sociallycommitted German citizen and physician, Norbert. The directory grew and grew from an initial 300 links to over 100,000 today. In 2003 it was renamed Better World Links and in 2007 the website was re-launched with a new and interactive design. Norbert's aim was and still very much is, to make an important contribution to the global internet community, providing access to pertinent information, so that our common vision for a better world can be realised.

The internet addresses in English cover global topics such as Peace, Human Rights, Environment, One World, Social Justice, Sustainability, Conflict Regions, Military, Culture, Health, Women, Men, Youth, Education, Religion, Economics, Globalization, Politics, Media and many more issues affecting our future.

The site is constantly being expanded and updated with the help of a few volunteers who ensure it is up-to-date, balanced, hand-picked, free of charge and without advertising! They manage to keep the error rate of less than 2% ensured by regular checks. And update take place in real-time.

4 February 2013 - Baroness Cox visits Sudan/South Sudan war zones

Baroness Cox leads delegation to Sudan/South Sudan border war zones

4 February 2013 Baroness Cox, one of UNA Westminster’s Joint Presidents, led a delegation from the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) to the war zones of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan (Nuba Mountains) in Sudan. During the visit, members witnessed sustained ruthless bombing of civilians by bombs from Antonov aircraft targeting markets and schools.

They reported that the humanitarian situation is desperate with people are unable to plant or harvest crops because of aerial bombardment, forcing many to hide in the banks of rivers. Some have developed coping mechanisms, such as foraging for food – roots of trees, wild plants – but these become very scarce in the dry season. In what should be the ‘fat season’, people are already reporting empty food stores and death from starvation.

In the Southern Kordofan, the delegation noted that there is an acute shortage of health care provision and no Immunization Programme (EPI). One health worker was deeply critical of the failure of the international community to provide resources for EPI. A local health worker claimed ‘UNICEF is not providing vaccines because this is ‘cross-border’ so it is not possible to provide Immunizations although all the equipment for cold chain storage is available. Therefore, there is high incidence of cases which should be prevented such as pertussis and measles. It is madness that UNICEF won’t provide vaccines for children: these can hardly be given to soldiers.’ Baroness Cox, HART CEO, said ‘For 20 years I have visited the Sudanese peoples suffering from Khartoum’s genocidal policies, seeing innocent civilians dying from military offensives, starvation and preventable disease. Khartoum is continuing to kill its own people with impunity. If the international community continues to fail to intervene in ways which will stop this ethnic cleansing of the peoples of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan it will be seen as complicit.’

Click here for video of the visit.

29 January 2013 - Antarctic photo exhibition opens

UNA Westminster joins leading art photographer Enzo Barracco to raise awareness of the dangers of climate change and to promote the Sport for Peace world database

29 January 2013
UNA Westminster was proud to support Noise of the Ice, Enzo Barracco’s images from the Antarctic taken in February 2012 and hopes that the exhibition will help raise awareness of global environmental challenges following recent UN Conferences. The exhibition will also visit Paris and New York. Enzo set out to record how Antarctica’s changing seascapes can provide clues to the impact of climate change. The continent is a unique scientific laboratory where change takes longer to both develop and arrest. Its attractive shapes, colours and texture mesmerise us and its silence induces over-confidence that all is stable. But the slightest noise can be warning that catastrophic collapse might follow, when landscape suddenly becomes seascape. Noise of the Ice can be seen as a metaphor for the fragility of the natural world, prompting us to recognise the danger signals of irreversible environmental collapse.

“We have supported Enzo since early 2012 and will use this association to continue our campaign for a firm timetable to adopt universal climate agreement by 2015.” says David Wardrop, Chairman UNA Westminster. “Climate negotiations must stabilize the atmosphere’s greenhouse gas concentrations and limit dangerous human interference with the climate system.”

29 January 2013 - Sport for Peace project launch

UNA Westminster launches its Sport for Peace worldwide database project
29 January 2013 UNA Westminster launched its Sport for Peace worldwide database project at the Noise of the Ice photographic exhibition at the Royal Geographic Society which it has been supporting. This initiative was inspired through its cooperation with the Young Diplomats in London which comprises diplomats and young professionals with over 2000 members committed to making a difference to the communities where they operate, supporting a wide range of causes and organisations.

The need for a worldwide database was triggered by lessons learned during the London 2012 Olympic Games. From the UN General Assembly debate that followed the UK-led ‘Olympic Truce’ Resolution in October 2011 to the final day of the Paralympics, those who use sport as a tool for reconciliation, tolerance and peace have sought in vain a universally accessible source of such activities worldwide. UNA Westminster was a member of the Foreign & Commomwealth Office Olympic Truce Working Group and organised a major event to link the United Nations and the Olympic Truce (News Item, 16 August).

With support from the International Olympic Truce Centre, the British Olympic Foundation and others, UNA Westminster hopes that progress on its development will lead to featuring during the UN General Assembly debate Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic idea, the traditional Olympic Truce resolution. This will led by the Russian Federation, host to the XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games of 2014 in Sochi.

2012

11 December 2012 - UNA Westminster organises successful conference on business in Somalia

Somalia: Open for Business conference was “best for many years” says diaspora
“This was the best conference on Somalia for years. It was about business and development, not politics!” said Sakariye Haji Abdi, former Minister of Information, at the end of Somalia Open for Business organised by a consortium of UK-based Somali organisations. Participants came from all over the UK and were linked to all regions of Somalia. Several embassies were represented as were many UK companies keen to open up business in Somalia.

It was standing room only in the large hall as Hugh Scott, Director, Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund and Toaha Qureshi, Chairman, Forum for International Relations Development, outlined how partnership with the diaspora can generate development opportunities throughout all Somalia. Saad Osman, CEO, Thames Hr Solutions, identified sectors which should be pursued. During the day, twenty six speakers shared ideas with audiences in parallel commissions, addressing in the morning agriculture and fisheries, health and youth and in the afternoon, women, education and transport and infrastructure. Plenary sessions titled Encouraging business and kick-starting the economy and Creating a safe environment for development attracted great support, throwing up new ideas to take forward. A free business mentoring facility for Somalis was announced and the meeting room for 1-to-1 meetings was kept busy throughout the day.

A comprehensive conference report will be posted soon on the websites of the joint organisers. On 5 January, World G18 Somalia, a conference co-organiser, will host a follow-up meeting with Somali legislators to maintain momentum. “This conference was a successful diaspora production” said Ahmed Hersi, Chairman of World G18 Somalia, “We have shown that when the community works together, we can take great steps forward for the benefit of all.” Consortium members include World G18 Somalia, Somali Economic Forum, Somali Diaspora UK, Puntland Diaspora Forum, RDI Charity, Galmudug Diaspora with support from the Horn of Africa Business Association, British African Business Association and the United Nations Association Westminster Branch.

Contact:
World G18 Somalia
Mahdi Aadam pardo_org@hotmail.co.uk 0798 395 4034
Ahmed Hersi calmadowdol@yahoo.co.uk 0798 369 3904
Mohamed Haji Elmi mohamedelmi66@yahoo.co.uk 0793 276 5593

Somali Economic
Forum Hassan Osman (Dudde) h.o@somalieconomicforum.org 0771 775 8007

UNA Westminster
David Wardrop davidwardrop@bulldoghome.com 0793 266 4335

27 November 2012 - Westminster UNA to act, fearing EHRC will lose NHRI Category A status

Westminster UN Association acts to prevent leading UK Human Rights body losing its coveted Category A status
UNA Westminster, the largest branch of the United Nations Association in the UK, is to contact the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights over its fears that the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) might lose its coveted Category A status as a National Human Rights Institution at the very time that the UK hopes to secure re-election to the UN Human Rights Council.

At its meeting Is Equality Lite the new Human Rights standard? held in the House of Lords on 13 November, experts shared deep concern over proposed government legislation on equality and human rights. Leading jurist Professor Sir Bob Hepple QC and Amanda Ariss of the Equality and Diversity Forum pointed to flaws in proposed changes to the Equality Act and threats to the UK Human Rights Act and the damaging impact on human rights bodies, especially the EHRC, due to large scale budget cuts. Their concerns were strongly endorsed by Sanchita Hosali, British Institute of Human Rights and Christopher Stanley, British Irish Rights Watch and by Lord Judd who chaired the meeting.

Lord Dholakia, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, reported on negotiations within the Government coalition. John Wadham, Legal Counsel at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, contributed information to the meeting.

“Widespread concern shown by leading equality and human rights stakeholders at the direction of Government policy demands action now to defend our country’s proud human rights record and ensure the Equality & Human Rights Commission retains its Category A status.” said David Wardrop, Chairman of Westminster UNA.

For a report of the meeting and Professor Hepple’s memorandum on Clause 51 (5 Nov) and a transcript of the relevant passages relating to equality and human rights in the House of Lords Enterprise and Regulatory Reform 2nd Reading, go to homepage: What we do/ Event Reports/2012

If you would like to offer practical support to the UNA campaign, please contact: David Wardrop Tel 0207 385 6738 e-mail info@unawestminster.org.uk

24 November 2012 - We the Peoples film festival ends, announcing four Best Film awards

We the Peoples film festival; five venues and four Best Film awards
The eighth We the Peoples film festival, a project of Westminster UNA, featured two new venues and four Best Film awards were awarded, kindly sponsored by the British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC). One new venue was Café 1001 in Brick Lane, Shoreditch, screening short films, Shambhauna, Night Hanks and The Inventor Man with intervals to generate discussion among patrons. The other venue, the Royal College of Music in Kensington, screened Kinshasa Symphony, directed by Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer, following that city’s musicians coping with power cuts, putsches and a war, all in the name of music. The film won the BUFVC Freedom to From Want Best Film award. Kings College London hosted the screening of Lucky which followed an orphaned Zulu boy who leaves his village for the big city in the new South Africa and how he struggles to survive. We were delighted that the film’s director, Avie Luthra, could join us. Later, Perri Mahmoud of the BUFVC presented him with the Freedom to Live in Dignity Best Film award.

The School of Oriental and African Studies screened Arna’s Children, a documentary by Juliano Mer- Kharmis about a children’s theatre set up by his mother in the Jenin Refugee Camp, Palestine. Juliano was assassinated in 2011 and following the film, Dimi Reider, Israeli journalist and Professor Nur Masalha, St. Mary's University College, who knew the director’s family, held the audience’s attention with their intimate knowledge of Jenin and its people. The BUFVC presented Professor Masalha with the Freedom from Fear Best Film award which he will forward to the director’s widow. A post-screening collection will be sent to the theatre which still operates.

The Young Film Makers for Development Day, hosted by the BFI South Bank, featured short films made by youth groups. Hood Forts which followed challenges facing young Londoners, made with support from the Mile End Community Project, won the Best Youth Film award, presented by Luis Carrasqueiro, BUFVC Chief Executive.

With nearly two hundred entries, the #Tweetapitch was won by Katie Arnold who beat off four other excellent finalists with her pitch for Giving Birth Behind the Wall, the story of two expecting mothers in the occupied town of Abu Dis on the West Bank. With £1000 from the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, she aims to finish the film in time for screening at the 2013 We the Peoples film festival. Amy Richardson, Commonwealth Broadcasting Association was joined by fellow #Tweetapitch judges David Westhead, Wilton Pictures and Matthew Cuzner, BFI. Body and Soul screened the trailer to The Undefeated, a new film on school-age bullying.

Vivienne Eka of Westminster UNA, the Festival Director, said “We are so grateful to our volunteers, Carie Bolsover, Benoit Lamour, Karin Pointner, Charlotte Maconochie and from SOAS, Kings College London, the Royal college of Music and Cafe 1001 without whom it would never have been possible.”

14 November 2012 - Westminster Young Professionals network with Young Diplomats in London group

Westminster Young Professionals to discuss joint meetings with Young Diplomats in London
Westminster Young Professionals have now had two useful networking meetings with members of the Young Diplomats in London group (YDL), thanks to the hospitality of HE Mr Khaled Al-Duwaisan, Ambassador of the State of Kuwait and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps. This follows the invitation to both groups made by the Ambassador at Central Hall Westminster on 24 August to join him in discussion how the Olympic truce legacy might be taken forward (see News item 24 August). Firstly, he hosted a dinner for both groups at his residence and then invited Westminster Young Professionals to his annual reception for the YDL. The two groups will now examine subjects for joint meetings and social events. Plans to take forward the Olympic Truce legacy are now being developed.

16 August 2012 - UNA Westminster teams up to publish UN educational comic Score the Goals

UNA Westminster teams up with World G18 Somalia to publish UN educational comic Score the Goals
UNA Westminster Branch and World G18 Somalia, the leading UK-based diaspora group working for development and peace, have announced the translation and print-ready status of the Somali version the successful UN educational comic Score the Goals. The download version is also complete.

This follows UNA Westminster’s contract with UN Publications in New York to undertake this task, bringing the comic to its first ever minority language. The translation was completed by the Youth Working Group of World G18 Somalia and UNA Westminster organised the software conversion. The 32- page educational comic sets out to show how working together brings positive results and to promote the MDGs. The story features 10 football UN Goodwill Ambassadors, Emmanuel Adebayor, Roberto Baggio, Michael Ballack, Iker Casillas, Didier Drogba, Luis Figo, Raúl, Ronaldo, Patrick Vieira, and Zinédine Zidane. They are shipwrecked on an island on their way to playing an ‘all-star’ charity football game. Whilst on the island, the team has to tackle the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) along their journey towards being rescued. The comic book is aimed at 8-14 year old children and provides a fun interactive way to help them understand, familiarise and reflect about the MDGs as well as inviting them to take action through several activities provided in the adjoining educational guide.

The project Score the Goals was the creation of the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace. It was the winner of the Special Jury Prize in the Peace and Sport Awards 2011 hosted by the Albert II of Monaco Foundation. Zinedane Zidane, famous French footballer, was delighted to distribute the comics in Mali, to excellent publicity.

“We plan a large print run for the Somali version, far more than the English and French versions for which only 5000 were printed” said Mustafa Jama, Chairman of the Youth Working Group, speaking to ambassadors from more than fifty countries as well as other VIPs at Central Hall Westminster. His address was part of the programme organised by UNA Westminster for the prestigious Presentation of Ambassadors’ Letters in Support of the Olympic Truce.

The project was welcomed by Mohamed Hassan, Director of Somali Youth Vision, who has been working with young people in Mogadishu and the South Central region of Somalia for the last two years. Mr Hassan used his address to the same audience to stress the importance of telling young people about the MDGs and their own responsibilities in society.

David Wardrop, Chairman, UNA Westminster Branch, confirmed the Branch’s pleasure that it had been able play this catalytic role. “For too long, Somalia has been deemed too dangerous to measure progress towards the MDGs but now relative peace is returning to much of the country, we have made possible the distribution of an excellent guide to them for use by those of all ages.”

16 August 2012 - Ambassadors’ Olympic Truce event held in historic United Nations location

Presentation of Ambassadors’ Letters of Support for Olympic Truce held in historic United Nations location
Central Hall Westminster which hosted the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in 1946, witnessed the presentation of a unique collection of letters of support for the Olympic Truce written by ninety Heads of Missions to London, led by HE Mr Khaled Al-Duwaisan GCVO, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps. Their letters confirmed their countries’ co-sponsorship of the UK’s Resolution to promote the Olympic Truce unanimously passed at the United Nations on 14 October 2011, promoting human development initiatives through sport and cooperation with the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the sporting community in general.

Representatives of more than fifty embassies and many others witnessed the 75 minute programme which featured several presentations. The London Peace Network announced that on 21 September, the International Day of Peace, mosques, synagogues, temples and churches will welcome all visitors in an unprecedented act of cooperation. Presentations were also made by Truce 20/20, a youth initiative in the London Borough of Newham; Peace Unlimited which works with young people in Rochdale and district in Lancashire; and the Office of the UN High Commission for Refugees which reported on the Giving is Winning partnership with the Olympic Games organisers. World G18 Somalia announced the publication of the UN educational comic Score the Goals in association with UNA Westminster Branch and Somali Youth Vision reported on its work in Mogadishu and southern Somalia. Members of the United Nations Veterans Association, all former UN peacekeepers, were applauded as they marched on parading the flags of the United Nations and the Olympic Truce.

The event was also addressed by Conrad Bailey, Head of Conflict Department, FCO; HE Mr Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador and by HE Mr Khaled Al-Duwaisan who invited the Young Diplomats in London organisation and the UNA Westminster Young Professionals to stage a Round Table meeting to share best ideas from all countries in building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal. Mr Al-Duwaisan ceremonially presented the collected diplomats’ letters to Phil Mulligan Executive Director, UNA-UK, who in turn presented them to Christine Elliott representing Methodist Central hall Westminster for safe keeping. The event opened with a short play Big Bang+1 at Central Hall which irreverently revisited the opening days of the first UN General assembly held in the same location in January 1946. This event was conceived and organised by UNA Westminster Branch. see http://www.tvapex.com/watch.aspx?i=tsS5ETz4LyM=&j=Olympic-Truce,-an-effort-by-United- Nations-Association&k=S and http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2258150&language=en http://www.rusemb.org.uk/article/160

7 August 2012 - London’s ambassadors show support for Olympic Truce

London’s ambassadors show support for Olympic Truce
On 16 August, Central Hall Westminster which hosted the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in 1946, will witness another important UN occasion. HE Mr Khaled Al-Duwaisan GCVO, ambassador of the State of Kuwait, senior ambassador in London, will be joined by fellow ambassadors in confirming their countries’ co-sponsorship of the UK’s Resolution to promote the Olympic Truce unanimously passed at the United Nations on 14 October 2011. This confirmed their support for human development initiatives through sport and cooperation with the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the sporting community in general.

In an unprecedented initiative, ambassadors have confirmed their personal support by letter to Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Chairman of the United Nations Association. These letters, together with their photographs, will comprise a unique collection which will join other UN memorabilia held in the Library of Central Hall Westminster.

The 75 minute programme will feature presentations on youth programmes in the UK and other countries showing how the Olympic Truce legacy will be taken forward in the spirit of the UN resolution. The United Nations Veterans Association will carry the flags of the United Nations and the Olympic Truce.

This unique initiative will be witnessed by members of the United Nations Association, faith groups and youth clubs based in London. There will be a photographic exhibition of UN peacekeepers in action including images of various peacekeepers’ own Olympic Games.

This event has been conceived by and is being organised by UNA Westminster

14 July 2012 - UN Forum hosts launch of Westminster Young Professionals group

UN Forum hosts launch of Westminster Young Professionals group
The UNA Westminster Young Professionals group was launched at the UN Forum held on 14 July. The well-attended launch took the form of a fast-moving networking event which critiqued the actions of the UN Security Council in tackling the current crisis in Syria. The programme opened with a situation overview given by Joshua Dobbs followed by lively debate moderated by WYP Chairman Ludre Stevens.

The UN Forum held at the Institute of Education, Bloomsbury, brought together more than six hundred people including members of UNA and those attracted by the issues to be covered. These included the Olympic Truce; the challenges posed by continuing global population growth; continuing work towards a world free of nuclear weapons; careers at the UN; and the challenge to make human rights truly universal. The keynote speaker was Lord Malloch-Brown, former UN Deputy Secretary-General and the delight of the day was the surprise appearance of Sir Patrick Stewart who took the opportunity to share his delight in becoming UNA’s first Patron.

26 June 2012 - The Olympic Truce, it's time to up the tempo

The Olympic Truce: it’s time to up the tempo

UNA Westminster Branch says it’s time to promote the Olympic Truce with more vigour than LOCOG and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are currently showing. As a member of the FCO-led Olympic Truce Stakeholder Group, we have been disappointed by the comfortable Village Fete approach preferred by LOCOG and the IOC. For many months, LOCOG has sought to deny wide use of the Olympic Truce logo shown above (centre). We have argued that this is the only symbol of the Olympic Truce which can gain universal approval. Our analysis of the chronology and opportunities for the Olympic Truce are set out in The Olympic Truce, historic and universal; for all the peoples. See What we do/other events/2012.

At the FCO-hosted reception at Lancaster House on 19 June to mark the Olympic Truce, we wore lapel badges as shown here, distributing them to diplomats and others. This initiative was successful and prompted us to launch our own Olympic Truce Facebook page (below) in association with A Ray of Hope, the Belfast-based organisation which provided the children’s choir who sang at the UN60 service at St Paul’s Cathedral attended by HM the Queen, organised by UNA Westminster.

In the space of four days, our new Olympic Truce Facebook page has gathered over 3000 followers. By contrast, the official Olympic Truce Facebook site run for the IOC has gathered only 260 followers in six months. We believe this vindicates our decision to break out of the LOCOG straitjacket and share the programme with peoples from round the world. Already, we have contributors from every continent. See http://www.facebook.com/groups/olympictruce/

More news of UNA Westminster Olympic Truce initiatives follow.

29 May 2012 - Baroness Betty Boothroyd leads wreath-laying ceremony to mark the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

Baroness Betty Boothroyd leads wreath-laying ceremony to mark the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

Baroness Betty Boothroyd, former Speaker of the House of Commons, led the annual wreath-laying ceremony marking the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on 29 May. The ceremony was held this year at the Memorial to the Women of WW2. The Revd. Lucy Winkett, Rector of St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, gave prayers after which diplomats from seventy embassies laid wreaths. Astrid Bernadotte, grand-daughter of Count Folke Bernadotte, the assassinated UN mediator laid a wreath in his memory and Rear-Admiral Henri Shricke, Defence Attaché, French Embassy, laid the wreath in memory of Commandant René de Labarrière, the first UN fatality. Wreaths were also laid by Mrs Rosalind Dillon Lee, War Widows' Association; Oleg Polakovs, Soldiers of Peace International Association; John Cooke, UN Veterans Association; David Irwin, HM Revenue & Customs on behalf of UK Civilian Staff; Natalie Samarasinghe on behalf of UNA-UK and pupils of Grey Coat Hospital School for Girls and Westminster City School for Boys on behalf of the Youth of the World. Wreaths were also laid on behalf of the government, the armed forces and police. The Colour Guard was provided by the UN Veterans Association (UK) and the Royal Artillery Band provided musical support.


Earlier, Baroness Valerie Amos, UN USG for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, speaking to a capacity audience, delivered the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Lecture titled Soldier, Peacebuilder and Aid Giver: can one hat fit all?” In her address, she responded to the summary of the recently published study UN Integration and Humanitarian Space presented by Victoria Metcalfe, ODI.

26 May 2012 - Baroness Betty Boothroyd to lead UN Peacekeepers ceremony

Baroness Boothroyd to lead UN Peacekeepers Day wreath-laying ceremony

Baroness Betty Boothroyd, former Speaker of the House of Commons, will lead the 9 th annual diplomatic wreath-laying ceremony to mark the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on Tuesday 29 May. In previous years, this ceremony has been held at the Cenotaph in Whitehall but as the monument is undergoing renovation, the ceremony will move to the nearby National Monument to the Women of World War II. Prayers will be offered by the Revd. Lucy Winkett, Rector of St. James’s Piccadilly and a regular contributor to Radio 4's Thought for the Day. Representatives of more than eighty embassies and High Commissions will participate in what has become the world’s largest ceremony to mark this important anniversary. By tradition, the first wreath, in memory of Count Folke Bernadotte, UN mediator assassinated in Palestine in 1948, will be laid by Astrid Bernadotte, his grand-daughter. Rear-Admiral Henri Shricke, French Defence Attaché, will lay the wreath in memory of French officer, Commandant René de Labarrière, the first UN fatality. Mrs Rosalind Dillon Lee of the War Widows' Association will lay a wreath on behalf of all widows of fallen peacekeepers. The Royal Artillery Band will provide musical support.

“By relocating to the Monument to the Women of World War II, we are able to focus on the increasingly important role being played by women in modern peacekeeping” says David Wardrop, Chairman of the United Nations Association Westminster Branch which traditionally organises the ceremony. “More than a hundred countries have lost sons and daughters serving as UN peacekeepers. Each died in a country with which their own had no quarrel so we should mourn them all as any of these could have been from our own country. We are delighted that Baroness Boothroyd will lead the ceremony as she was patron of the trust set up to establish the women’s memorial.”

The diplomats wreath-laying party will leave the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall at 12.30pm. Earlier, Baroness Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, will have delivered the Folke Barnadotte Memorial Lecture titled Soldier, Peacebuilder and Aid Giver: can one hat fit all?”

10 May 2012 - Syria’s slow death: this failure by the UN’s P5 states must now be redeemed

One Minute Comment

Syria’s slow death: this failure by the UN’s P5 states must now be redeemed
Have we learned nothing, watching slo-mo civil wars from pre-war Spain to countless decolonisation processes ending in violence? The United Nations, an array of cogs, levers and platforms set up to avoid violence between and within its member states includes tedious procedures which play for time and encourage the option of peace. Kofi Annan’s Six Point Plan was a classic product of this philosophy with each point both dependent on and independent of the others (see below). It sought to use the UN’s ‘cogs for peace’ but these never turned once. The UN observer mission headed by Norway’s General Mood was vital to the implementation of the Annan plan but inexcusably the Security Council, appallingly led by its five permanent members, the P5, failed to ensure monitors were ready when Annan’s first deadline passed. His plan was lost that first morning. Weeks later, monitors total thirty with P5 members blaming one another for this shortfall. The US, UK and France were always committed to see Assad go with no care for strategy beyond that moment. Russia and China never had a strategy, blindly resorting to Cold War loyalties. When the P5 states act in this way, they disgrace humanity. General Mood stated on his arrival “The most important element is the Syrians themselves, the rights, the aspirations of the Syrian people.” Those voices are now drowned by the roar of the bomb, their chances of constructive debate scuppered. As we witness more slo-mo slaughter, it is now up to the P5 to work together and reassure us they justify their privileged status.

Lessons we must learn from Kofi Annan’s doomed Six Point Plan

Point 1. Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people We failed to identify those in Syria who would lead this. There was no Plan B suggesting a potential role of an international referee

Point 2. UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians The observers deployed too slowly, suggesting to some that western powers would prefer the continuing collapse of the Assad regime, however slow and painful for Syria’s population.

Point 3. All parties to ensure provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause No plans were ever made for the safe location of vehicles and their daily replenishment prior to the proposed two-hour window. And who would protect this operation?

Point 4. Authorities to intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons Will the ‘Authorities’ agree to Annan’s definition of ‘arbitrarily detained’? And what is the definition of scale and pace?

Point 5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists This is the first measurable yardstick but does ‘free movement’ mean ‘safe movement’?

Point 6. Authorities to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully Do we expect greater self-control to be shown by the demonstrators than at present?

How do we protect demonstrators supporting President Assad?

Does this require UN monitors to check that demonstrations are both peaceful and not threatened by snipers and other agents of the ‘Authorities’?

7 May 2012 - UNA Westminster salutes British members of Ban Ki-moon’s senior team

UNA Westminster salutes British members of Ban Ki-moon’s senior team
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s team of Special and Personal Representatives and Envoys are picked from many countries and include five from the United Kingdom. These thumbnail introductions will prompt us when following the UN’s efforts in the countries where they work.

Ian Martin is Special Representative and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, previously serving the SG as his Special Adviser on Post-Conflict Planning there. Formerly Secretary General of Amnesty International and Vice-President of the International Centre for Transitional Justice, he has served the UN in Human Rights roles in Rwanda, Haiti and Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has also advised on the Gaza Strip, Nepal, Timor Leste and the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Michael Keating, surely the most experienced Briton in Afghanistan, has stepped up to be Deputy Special Representative and Resident Humanitarian Coordinator. Previously, he worked on the Middle East Peace Process in Jerusalem and Gaza and later served in Malawi.

Sir Derek Plumbly is Special Coordinator for Lebanon. An Arabic speaker, he was ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Egypt and has served in the UK Mission to the UN in New York. For Sudan, he chaired the Assessment and Evaluation Commission charged with monitoring implementation of its Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Jacqueline Badcock is the SG’s Deputy Special Representative, Regional and Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq. After serving with the UNDP and UNICEF, she moved to Iraq from the Philippines where she was the UNDP Resident Representative.

Dr. David Nabarro, Senior UN Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza, is seconded from the World Health Organization and tasked to coordinate the UN system’s contribution to global efforts to control these epidemics. He is also responsible for Food Security and Nutrition, coordinating the UN Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis.

In a later News Item, we will feature other members of Ban Ki-moon’s senior team.

12 April 2012 - UN USG to speak at UN Peacekeepers Day conference

UN USG to speak at UN Peacekeepers Day conference
Baroness Valerie Amos, UN USG for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, will deliver the 9 th Folke Bernadotte Memorial Lecture to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. She will address the most difficult challenge facing the United Nations in the field, to establish a management structure to cover its principal roles; peacekeeping, nation-building and humanitarian assistance. New proposals set out in the Report UN Integration and Humanitarian Space commissioned by the UN have attracted both support and criticism but it will be for the UN to implement these. The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion and later by the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph, Whitehall, which will be supported by the Royal Artillery Band. See Future Events for registration details.

For more information, contact info@unawestminster.org.uk or 0207 385 6738

12 March 2012 - UNA Westminster writes to ambassadors regarding omission in final communique of London Conference on Somalia

UNA Westminster asks Somalia Contact Group members for explanation about omission in final communiqué of London Conference on Somalia
UNA Westminster has written to twenty four leading countries which attended the London Conference on Somalia asking why reference to the role of the Somali diaspora, arguably the largest provider of funds to Somalia, was excluded from the final communiqué even though it was included in the widely leaked draft communiqué. The absence of this reference in the final communiqué cannot be explained by participating Somali politicians and UNA Westminster has sought clarification on the position of these twenty four countries*. For UNA Westminster which acts as mentor to World G18 Somalia, the omission is regrettable as all parties claim to encourage cooperation and partnership in development and nationbuilding programmes between the international community and the Diaspora. Without such reference, that claim now looks hollow.

It is vital that reference to the Diaspora features again in some manner, either as an Addendum or certainly as a key substantive outcome of the Istanbul conference in June. The strengthening of the draft text to include new text such as the following will help rectify the situation.

We recognised and admired the scale of continuing diaspora aid to Somalia, much of which is precisely targeted, successfully implemented and which is closely monitored. In this work, the diaspora has gained expertise and importantly strengthened its links with national, regional and local leaders. We agreed to review how we can work more closely with the diaspora on projects in which this knowledge and local links will be invaluable to their successful implementation. We agreed to examine how such cooperative programmes can be encouraged, reviewing and removing administrative obstacles within our own support programmes which might hamper their successful implementation.

Read here for a backgrounder on this issue.

20 February 2012 - Mark Ellis asks whether the decline of universal jurisdiction over international crimes is irreversible

10th Annual Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law lecture in association with The Centre for International Studies & Diplomacy, SOAS and the International Committee, The Bar Council

‘The Decline of Universal Jurisdiction over International Crimes-Is it Irreversible?’

“The attraction of absolute universal jurisdiction is that it promotes jurisdiction by the forum state over offenses committed abroad by the accused—the exercise of which is not dependent on the accused being on the territory of the forum state” states Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association in the 10th Ruth Steinkraus Cohen International Law Lecture, a flagship annual event organised by UNA Westminster Branch. “It is based solely on the nature of the crime, without regard to where the crime was committed, the nationality of the accused, or any other connection to the forum state.” However, Dr Ellis noted that from a government’s perspective, this more aggressive form of judicial activism is unacceptable. He stated that when talking to UK Government officials, they say the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill passed in 2011 is intended to ensure that cases proceed only where there is solid evidence likely to lead to a successful prosecution. “But that is a bit disingenuous, suggesting that judges are somehow not capable of making the same assessment.”

Dr Ellis gave examples of similar regressive legislation introduced by Spain, France, Belgium and other European countries. He opined that restricting the use of absolute universal jurisdiction does not prevent a state from actively cooperating with the ICC through domestic courts. He concluded by stating that “in the end, it is actually states’ support of the ICC that could salvage the remnants of the more aggressive form of universal jurisdiction.”

The lecture was introduced by David Wardrop, Chairman of UNA Westminster Branch, who thanked the International Committee of the Bar Council for its continuing support and also the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS for its continuing hospitality. The lively Question and Answer session was chaired by Professor Lynn Welchman of the School of Law at SOAS. After a reception, UNA Westminster Branch entertained Dr Ellis and other guests to dinner. For a tran

script of the lecture and all previous annual International Law lectures, go to What We Do on the main menu.

25 January 2012 - William Say writes personal tribute to Elizabeth MacKeith MBE, loyal UNA member, who has died aged 102

Elizabeth Mackeith, MA 1909 - 2012 A personal tribute by William Say

I consider it a great privilege to have known Elizabeth for 34 years. She was always very kind and welcoming to me - as she was to so many. The world will be much the poorer without her. She was the strongest and politest feminist I have ever met, as well as a true Christian internationalist whose belief in the UN, and all it stands for, was absolutely rock solid. Having lived through two world wars, she had more reason than most to hope for a better and more peaceful and just world. I once invited her to watch a fireworks display with me on the Thames. "No, Bill", she said. "I saw all the fireworks I want to ever see during the last war!" I was suitably chastened!

She was playing her cello and travelling on the tube on her own well into her 90's and no doubt enjoying her favourite tipple - gin - for much longer! She was a real inspiration to me as she was a great UNA-UK Westminster branch organiser and Hon Secretary for around fifty years. She led by example but was also incredibly modest and fun to be with. She was an amazing and dedicated fundraiser who, along with Miss Elaine Adams MBE, collected thousands of pounds every year for UNCEF/ UNA until the early 1990's. She was also heavily involved in the successful running of a UNA Westminster shop in Strutton Ground in the 1960's and in UNA London Region activities under its remarkable Regional Officer – Mrs Myriel Davies, MBE. Elizabeth’s active support for UNA-UK was recognised by two life memberships and a special award from UNICEF-UK.

I look back to the many memorable and productive branch committee meetings I attended in her Pimlico home from 1978 onwards - under the distinguished chairmanship of Gordon Evans OBE, ((founding Chairman of UNA Westminster and of the UN parliamentary Group), Titus Alexander, Roland Doven and Pat Orr. I particularly remember, with great affection, sitting with Elizabeth and Gordon in the main restaurant of the United Nations building in New York, during a UNA Westminster Study tour to the USA, and how proud and happy we all were to be together in a place which meant so much to all three of us. To quote Gordon: How infinitesimal is anything we can achieve, how infinitely important it is that we should do it. Her life, to me, encapsulated those words as she was a real and eternal optimist. Why not?

The last time I saw her was at The Goring Hotel in London at the Centennial birthday party I organised for her on behalf of UNA Westminster Branch which was attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster. She was very frail but full of life and still had her wonderful smile. She was rather overwhelmed by all the well-earned fuss being made of her which I hope she enjoyed... The Goring Hotel was a very apt location as she used to fundraise for UNA/ UNICEF outside it for many years!!

She will be greatly missed - especially by me. May she rest in peace. William Say, MA January 2012

24 January 2012 - Stuart Milk of the Harvey Milk Foundation leads speakers in debate on the challenges facing sexual minorities

HUMAN RIGHTS FOR SEXUAL MINORITIES: IS THE UN THE RIGHT FORUM TO CAMPAIGN?
Stuart Milk of the Harvey Milk Foundation, Renato Sabbadini, Regional Director of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and Emma Reed, Head of LGB&T Equality at the Government Equalities Office spoke to a standing room- only meeting in the House of Lords on issues relating to challenges facing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and Intersex community (LGBTI). Around the world, individuals suffer discrimination and violent attack because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI). In more than 70 countries, homosexuality remains a criminal offence. The UN Secretary-General has stated that “we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When individuals are attacked, abused or imprisoned because of their sexual orientation, we must speak out…" He pledged to put himself “on the line,” promising “to rally support for the decriminalization of homosexuality everywhere in the world.” In November, the Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights identifies an emerging pattern of human rights violations that demands a response. In February 2011, Judge Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, commenting on the death of Ugandan activist David Kato stated “Decriminalising homosexuality is an essential first step towards establishing genuine equality before the law.” David Cameron’s insistence at the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that the UK might cut aid to countries that do not adhere to proper human rights led to intense reaction in some African states. But is the UN, an inter-governmental organization, the right forum to start this campaign? Our speakers will point to human rights abuses by UN member states, many being signatories to International Human Rights Conventions, and explore what international action can be taken to end this persecution and where this action should be taken. The meeting was opened by Lord Black and ended with a lively Question and Answer session.

For a report in the Intersex network blog, read here.
For a report in The Bay Area Reporter, read here.

For a backgrounder on initiatives taken by the UN and others, read here

24 January 2012 - Mark Ellis, Executive Director, International Bar Association, to deliver 10th Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law lecture

Mark Ellis to deliver 10th annual International Law Lecture
In the 10th Annual Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law lecture titled The Decline of Universal Jurisdiction over International Crimes-Is it Irreversible?, Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association will argue that the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court does not rise to the level of full universal jurisdiction. “The ICC operates with an express presumption in favour of national jurisdiction.” he has stated in discussion while preparing for this lecture. “And as much as the international community promotes universal jurisdiction, evidence suggests a burgeoning trend away from states actively embracing the most robust elements of universal jurisdiction. States are beginning to heighten their conditions, restrictions and limitations on the exercise of universal jurisdiction.”

This public access event will take place in the Brunei Lecture Theatre at the School of Oriental & African Studies on Monday 20 February commencing at 6.30pm, to be followed by a reception. It is held in association with The Centre for International Studies & Diplomacy, SOAS and with generous support from the International Committee of the Bar Council.

5 January 2012 - UNA Westminster endorses Diaspora comments on Foreign Affairs Committee report on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia

UNA Westminster endorses World G18 Somalia comments on UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia
5 January 2012
“This Report makes valuable recommendations for the conference on Somalia called by Prime Minister David Cameron for 24 February.” said David Wardrop, Chairman, UNA Westminster Branch. “Acting as mentor to World G18 Somalia (WG18S), the leading UK Diaspora group, we are pleased that its written submission has proved useful to the Foreign Affairs Committee. This submission was based on proposals publicly launched at our annual Peacekeepers Day conference at RUSI in May 2011.”

The Report covers Somali piracy; the UK and international response; land-based solutions; and FCO support for victims and families. WG18S is primarily interested in the Report’s recommendations for improved UK response to piracy and support for land-based solutions. In this initial commentary on the Report, UNA Westminster and WG18S endorse the Report’s recommendations that
1] the UK Government should
a) clarify which department has the overall lead on countering piracy. The Report claims ‘the FCO leads on the Government’s overall strategy towards Somalia, and chairs a cross- departmental working group on Somalia and a cross-Whitehall ministerial working group on piracy.’ WG18S has urged for some time for more transparency here and better links to the Diaspora.
b) work closely with Somali communities to ‘strengthen local responsibility and involvement in international efforts to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia.’
c) clarify its policies on pirate capture and prosecution.
2] the authorized naval forces introduce new ways of detecting skiffs and thus improve response times to incidents in the Indian Ocean, by exploring technologies such as micro satellite surveillance and/or lighter than air persistent wide area surveillance. UNA Westminster advocated such initiatives for use in the DRC, Darfur and Somalia at its annual Peacekeepers dayu conference at RUSI on 2010. The Somali Joint Statement to which WG18S adheres has advocated better such co-ordination and the application of these technologies for three years.

The Report notes criticism by WG18S and others of the UK government’s policy on several issues, especially:
1] its failure to ‘engage with Somali society to provide a sense of legitimacy and local ownership of the political settlements and
2] its policy of channeling funds for development projects through international NGOs, seeing this as a “lack of meaningful engagement” with Somalis and the Somali Diaspora.
However, the Report noted that both the FCO and the Department for International Development have stated they are willing to consider applications from UK Diaspora organisations representing any region of Somalia, and that the FCO has already made grants to some Somali Diaspora organisations. “WG18S and UNA Westminster will be meeting FCO officers on 11 January when we will discuss all these issues.” said David Wardrop “We must all work together to ensure the success of the conference on 24 February and this can be helped by the Diaspora playing a major part in setting its agenda and feeling committed to follow through in implementing agreed decisions. To ensure this, we will propose that the UK Diaspora enter into a partnership with the UK government, committing all parties to a spirit of transparency and co-operation. The unique non-political identity of WG18S and its strong links with all eighteen of Somalia’s regions make it a good partner for all those seeking to bring peace and development to Somalia. We are pleased to be working with WG18S.”

To read the Report, click here.
To read the Somali Joint Statement, click here.
To learn more about UNA Westminster, read here.
Contact David Wardrop 0207 385 6738 or davidwardrop@bulldoghome.com

2011

21 November 2011 - Commentary on the Home Secretary's recent statement on Human Rights, ahead of the UNA Westminster AGM on 12 December.

Is this the time to question the hierarchy in human rights?
Remarks on human rights made by Theresa May, Home Secretary, at this year’s Conservative Party annual conference would make the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) scratch their heads and wonder what their ideological battles were all about. After all, she seeks to elevate the rights of the community above those of the individual, the reverse of the argument taken by western negotiators in 1948.

The issue of the comparative status of civil and political rights, those associated with the individual, as advanced by western negotiators and of economic, social and cultural rights, associated more with the community, as advanced by the Soviet bloc, occupied much debate. It had been generally agreed that there should be place in the Universal Declaration for all such rights but how to order them? But before the ‘battle of the order’, negotiators had to disabuse firstly the UK which sought to introduce a binding Convention which would exclude economic, social and cultural rights altogether and, secondly, the United States which sought likewise despite all that Roosevelt’s New Deal had set out to offer. Both countries were still reeling after narrowly rejecting the right to revolution, the experience enjoyed by many of the UN’s founding members, in South and Central America and the Soviet Union.

Where the Soviet Union exposed its true colours, some argued, was its claim that a wellgoverned modern state is not a threat to the rights of the individual, rather the means to the fulfillment of those rights. Would Theresa May now agree with that view?

Nevertheless, many living in the north Atlantic group of Members States could reflect on the peace they were just beginning to enjoy. What was it for, they asked, if economic, social and cultural rights were to be dismissed by tired ideological debate? Efforts to put the two groups of rights on equal footing were rejected and the hierarchy in the Universal Declaration neatly crystallizes the East-West divide as it was in 1948. Its first three Articles express the French ideals of equality, fraternity and liberty; Articles 4-21 cover the full spectrum of civil and political rights, the First Generation rights; Articles 22-26 cover economic, social and cultural rights which some term the Second Generation’ rights as they follow from those earlier Articles. Of increasing importance now is Article 28 which states “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realised”. This lay dormant until the end of the Cold War and is now seen as a Third Generation right, setting a course towards peace, development and a healthy environment.

Not content with the aspirational nature of the Universal Declaration, European countries set about creating a fully binding Convention which was agreed in 1951. The UK should be proud of the part it played in this process, quite different to its muddled stance in the creation of the Universal Declaration. The Human Rights Act (1998) set out to "give further effect" in UK law to the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. It makes available in UK courts a remedy for breach of a Convention right, without the need to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. I recall Lord Bingham, then Lord Chief Justice, praising the Act and admitting that he and too few of his colleagues knew enough about the importance and application of European law. Let us hope that Theresa May thinks again before advocating the severing of this important link to modern human rights legislation, both national and international.

David Wardrop, Chairman, UNA Westminster branch

19 November 2011 - Young film makers open 6th We The Peoples film festival at BFI

We the Peoples film festival hosts Best Film Awards for young film makers
19 November 2011
The Young Film Makers for Development Day hosted at the BFI Southbank has opened the 6 th We The Peoples film festival. Short films submitted by young film makers were screened during the day and prizes sponsored by the British Universities Film & Video Council were awarded as follows:
First Prize Skateistan, directed by Orlando van Einsidedel
Second Prize The Scavenger, directed by Ozgur Topcu and Ozge Topcu
Third Prize I wish I went to Ecuador, directed by Bricknell Primary School and David Bunting

“We are so grateful to the BUFVC for its continuing support. The introduction of award certificates and prizes has lifted our festival to a new level” said David Wardrop, Chairman of UNA Westminster branch, co-ordinators of the We the Peoples film festival.

The day’s programme featured the feature films Otelo Burning and Lucky and a Q & A session with Avie Luthra, Director of Lucky. The Shorts film session featured films in three categories titled Playgrounds of the World, Misperception and Environment. The Audience Award was won by Islam on Campus directed by Nida Manzoor. In all, nine films chosen from dozens submitted from many countries were screened.

The Youth Day featured a live link-up to young film makers in Israel and there were drop-in editing sessions with Boldface Productions. Live music featured throughout the day and several NGOs took stands to promote their programmes.

Youngsters working with The Yard and the International Production Youth Network built the performance stage and great support was given by Wilton Pictures, Your World View and the British Film Institute and the British Universities Film & Video Council.

For the full programme, please see www.wethepeoples.org.uk

2 July 2011 - "Dag Hammarskjöld, the United Nations and the End of Empire" conference opens for bookings

Dag Hammarskjöld, the United Nations and the End of Empire conference opens for bookings
The detailed programme of the conference to be held on 2 September to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Dag Hammarskjöld, UN Secretary‐General from 1953 to 1961 has now been published. Twelve expert scholars including those from Japan, Sweden, France, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and the USA will set out to cover the important sequence of events which led up to the loss of S‐G Hammarskjöld and his staff in September 1961. The conference is being mounted by UNA Westminster branch in association with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London and the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation at Uppsala. Click here for conference programme and registration.


Photo: ON 13 September 1961, only days before his death, UN S‐G Dag Hammarskjöld arrived in Leopoldville in response to an invitation by Premier Cyrille Adoula, to discuss United Nations aid and support to the Republic of the Congo. Standing beside Hammarskjöld (3rd from left) is Gen. McKeown, Commander of the U.N. Force in the Congo, and Dr. Sture Linner, (wearing glasses), Chief of U.N. Civilian Operations.

8 June 2011 - UN Veterans Association UK formalises its independent identity

UN Veterans Association UK formalises its independent identity
June 8 2011
The inaugural meeting of the UN Veterans Association of the UK was held on 8 June. The event was convened by UNA Westminster which was represented by members of its Executive Committee. The UNVA (UK) was originally set up as a branch, or Post, of the well-established Irish UN Veterans Association (http://www.iunva.com) with membership comprising UK-based former UN peacekeepers serving with UK or Irish forces. The meeting set out to confirm the creation of an independent UK-based organisation. The Officers of the previous organisation were confirmed in post and the Constutution agreed.


Members of the UNVA have provided the Colour Guard at the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph, Whitehall, organised by UNA Westminster, seen here in 2010. In recognition of their support, UNA Westminster presented the new organisation with a United Nations flag and pole for use in ceremonial events.They will march together for the first time at this year’s Armistice Day parade in November. UNA Westminster arranged messages of welcome from Henry Bellingham MP, FCO Minister for Africa, the UN and Conflict Issues; the Rt Hon Andrew Robathan MP, Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans; General Sir Michael Rose, Former Commander UN Protection Forces, Bosnia 1994/95; General Sir Rupert Smith, Former Commander UN Protection Forces, Bosnia 1995/96 and Colonel Bob Stewart MP, Former British UN Commander in Bosnia 1992 – 93. See below.

Henry Bellingham MP, FCO Minister for Africa, the UN and Conflict Issues I warmly welcome the creation today of the UN Veterans Association UK and I commend the UN Association UK for their hard work in getting it up and running. The UK is a strong supporter of UN peacekeeping. Thousands of British personnel have worked in peacekeeping missions and every year we contribute towards the cost of this vital activity across the world. I would like to thank all British veterans for their dedicated service to UN peacekeeping and also thank those who continue to serve in the cause of peace. I look forward to seeing the UNVA take shape and wish it every success for the future.

The Rt Hon Andrew Robathan MP, Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans The work of the United Nations is essential to the pursuit of world peace and stability, and this initiative recognises the significant contribution of UK forces. UK personnel serve the UN in often difficult and dangerous circumstances, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank British veterans and serving personnel for their commitment to UN peacekeeping.

General Sir Michael Rose, Former Commander, UN Protection Forces, Bosnia 1994/95 Enabling civilians from all three ethnic communities to survive in a three sided civil war, and at the time helping bringing about a peaceful end to the conflict in Bosnia were the difficult tasks faced by the peacekeepers of the UN in 1994. Although the UN has been criticised by many in the West for not using more military force at that time, events in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan have subsequently shown that solving complex humanitarian problems in situations of conflict cannot be done by using high levels of military force alone. It is a credit to the 23,000 peacekeepers who volunteered to go to Bosnia to help others to live, and who never lost faith in the mission, that today Bosnia is at peace and the perpetrators of that war are now in prison or facing trial in The Hague. I look forward to the creation of an independent UNVA in the UK so that the achievements of UN peacekeepers everywhere can be better remembered.

General Sir Rupert Smith Former Commander, UN Protection Forces, Bosnia 1995/96 I was delighted to read that the United Kingdom now has its own independent branch of the United Nations Veterans Association. Not least from my time as Commander UNPROFOR in Sarajevo in 1995 I am well aware of the quality and quantity of the contribution made by British armed forces to UN operations. In these difficult and complex peacekeeping operations members of the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and the British Army have committed themselves with commendable courage, forbearance and competence. I wish the Association and its members the best of fortune in representing the service and sacrifice of the veterans and in advancing the values of the United Nations.

Colonel Bob Stewart DSO MP, Former British UN Commander in Bosnia 1992 – 93 The United Nations is both the highest authority in the World and its Court of Last Resort. United Nations Peacekeepers are often given the almost impossible mission of trying to stop violence so that normal reason and politics can catch up. In many situations this is almost impossible but it is better to try and do something than do nothing. The World always hears of peacekeeping failures but rarely of its successes because good news does not sell newspapers. Yet United Nations Peacekeepers have had many successes and saved countless lives – often at great risk to themselves. I remain a strong supporter of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and proud to have worn the Blue Beret.

26 May 2011 - Land Rover debut at UN Peacekeepers Day ceremony

Land Rover debut at UN Peacekeepers Day ceremony
26 May
Two white Land Rover models in UN livery participated in the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall to mark the International day of UN Peacekeepers. The ceremony was led by Mr. Alain Le Roy, UN USG for Peacekeeping Operations, who laid the first wreath on behalf of Mr. Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary-General. Eighty Embassies and Commonwealth High Commissions were represented at the ceremony. The Band of the Life Guards provided musical support and the UN Veterans Association provided the Colour Guard. The UN-liveried Land Rovers gave great visual impact to the event which attracted spectators from the UK and amongst London’s many tourists. For more information on this event, see our homepage: what we do/International Day of UN Peacekeepers/2011


A Land Rover Discovery TDV6 HSE (left) and Land Rover Defender 110 XS (right) flank the Cenotaph in Whitehall following the wreath-laying ceremony.

26 May 2011 - UN Peacekeeping Chief urges greater UK participation in the UN’s operations

UN Peacekeeping Chief urges greater UK participation in the UN’s operations
26 May 2011
Alain Le Roy, UN Under-Secretary-General, Peacekeeping Operations, delivered the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Lecture at the 8th annual conference held by UNA Westminster branch to mark the International Day of UN peacekeepers. He stated that only a year ago, more than 100,000 troops, police and observers and more than 20,000 civilians were deployed in 14 peacekeeping operations worldwide. More robust mandates demanded commensurate contributions from member states. “We need well trained and highly motivated troops, police and civilians and they must be supported by aviation, logistics, field hospitals and information resources.” He reminded his audience that the UK’s contribution in former Yugoslavia totaled as many as 10,000 troops but now it is less than 300, all by a handful stationed permanently in Cyprus. He urged a review of current policy. A transcript of Mr Le Roy’s address can be found here.


David Wardrop, Chairman, UNA Westminster branch, presents Mr. Le Roy with a Peacekeeper teddy bear, one of tens of thousands first marketed in 1993 to promote the work of UN peacekeepers in Bosnia. Later, Mr. Le Roy led diplomats from eighty countries at the Cenotaph ceremony, laying a wreath on behalf of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

20 April 2011 - Land Rover to support UK Peacekeepers Day ceremony

Land Rover to support UK Peacekeepers Day ceremony
20 April
Two Land Rover vehicles will participate in the 8th annual Cenotaph ceremony on 26 May organised by UNA Westminster Branch to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. A Land Rover Defender and a Land Rover Discovery wearing UN livery will feature in the parade to and from the Cenotaph. In their early years, Land Rovers were quickly identified as worldwide leaders in the emerging market for four-wheel drive vehicles. Countless organisations came to depend on Land Rover vehicles to get personnel and equipment into the most challenging situations…and then safely out again. Many troop contributors to UN peacekeeping operations have used Land Rovers.

5 April 2011 - Screening of Paradiso closes Spring Human Rights mini film festival

Director of Paradiso joins in Spring Human Rights mini film festival
5 April 2010
As part of their joint Human Rights mini film festival, UNA Westminster Branch and Regent’s College were delighted to screen Paradiso, a film directed by Alessandro Negrini chronicling the successful efforts to bring back together Catholic and Protestant members of the Londonderry community through holding a dance in a formerly popular dance hall. The film has won awards worldwide and we were delighted that Alessandro could fly from Londonderry to speak about the film after its screening. The film won Best Film of the Festival at our own We the Peoples film festival held in November 2010. The season will end on 18 April with screenings of The Witches of Gambaga and Deadly Hunt.

In introducing his film Alessandro writes “I am an Italian who has been living in Derry for many years. One day I got lost and ended up in The Fountain by mistake. I was astonished to discover this beautiful, small community hidden away in the centre of the city. From that moment it became a mission for me to make a film about the gems of human experience that lie waiting to be discovered behind a fence constructed in a time of fear.”


Alessandro Negrini accepts the 2010 Best Film in Festival award from UNA Westminster Branch Chairman David Wardrop

Regent’s College is located in Regent’s Park and is one of the UK’s most respected private colleges. It is associated with the prestigious Webster University, USA.

2 April 2011 - New web-links to important Womens websites

New web‐links to important women’s organisations
In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Accordingly on our website, the UNIFEM link is replaced by the new UN Women link (UN & Development page) and the UNIFEM UK link is replaced by the UN Women UK link (Links page).


Also, we now link to the excellent Make Every Woman Count website created by its Executive Director Rainatou Sow (left) who visited London recently. This is located on the UN & Development page.

17 March 2011 - 1 Minute update: progress on 23 February statement

1 Minute UN Update 17 March 2011
Libya – update on progress on our resolution posted on 23 February: we proposed: what happened The UN Security Council request the Arab League to: i) call an urgent meeting to agree how its members can use their influence on the Libyan leader to cease attacking Libya’s citizens ii) deploy their military forces to operate no-fly zones over Libya’s ten principal military airports to prevent mercenaries and weapons from being shipped in. iii) use their humanitarian assets to assist in the evacuation of all foreign nationals wishing to leave Libya. Arab League has acted Arab League has advocated a no--fly zone Arab League members have done this the British government to: i) inform the Libyan government that it aims to arrange immediately with friendly countries for the evacuation of UK nationals now corralled with other foreigners in ‘liberated’ Eastern Libya but subject to opportunistic lootings, either by land, sea or air ii) instruct UK banks and similar bodies to freeze all known assets of Mr Ghaddafi, his family and named leading Libyan business people iii) request its partners in the European Union to take similar action. Undertaken Undertaken Undertaken

On 27 February, the UN Security Council adopted SCR 1970 which addressed many issues but at a leisurely pace. Today, we welcome UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (17 March) and urge rapid implementation of its operative clauses.

We further urge the UN Security Council to:
i) add the names of senior Libyan military commanders to those in annex 1 (travel ban) and annex 2 (asset freeze) in UN SCR 1970 which names few other than members of Mr Ghaddafi’s family,
ii) urge all Member States to refuse entry to any of those listed in these augmented annexes and, if captured, to deliver these to either the International Criminal Court or to authorised officers of the Arab League or African Union, to face charges of crimes against humanity.

[Note: For a similar international initiative, Articles 15-17 in the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (26 March 1999) set out to identify and prosecute miscreant military commanders]

Twinned with UNA Connecticut for World Peace, Disarmament, Development and Human Rights JOINT PRESIDENTS: Baroness COX OF QUEENSBURY, Lord LESTER OF HERNE HILL QC, LORD JUDD OF PORTSEA www.unawestminster.org.uk 61 Sedlescombe Road, London SW6 1RE Tel 020 7385 6738 e-mail: info@unawestminster.org.uk

16 March 2011 - Sir Dennis Byron, President , International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda delivers 9th Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law Lecture

Capacity audience for law lecture given by Sir Dennis Byron, president ICTR
16 March 2011
The Rt. Hon. Sir Dennis Byron, QC, President, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda delivered the 9 th Annual Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law lecture to a capacity audience in the Brunei Gallery Theatre. In his address Lessons learned from the Rwanda Criminal Tribunal, he covered issues relating to the ICTR’s relations with the Rwanda national judiciary, its impact on the development of the Rule of Law in Africa and the legacy he hoped it would leave upon its termination in 2012. The text of the complete address will be posted shortly as will the recording of the address as delivered including the Question and Answer session.

The event was chaired by Dr Phil Clark, Lecturer in Comparative and International Politics at SOAS. Michael Todd QC, Vice-Chairman of the Bar Council, thanked Judge Byron on behalf of the audience. After a public reception, the Bar Council of England and Wales, the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy and UNA Westminster Branch hosted a supper for Judge Byron and other guests. The Bar Council has been a loyal supporter of this lecture series since its inception in 2003.

28 February 2011 - 1 Minute update: Why these next few days are important

UNA Westminster branch: 1 Minute UN Update
Why these next few days are important
Last week’s big battle was to persuade enough UN Member States that continued inaction on Libya would rebound badly on them as well as forsake the people of Libya. Our own statement [1] demanding specific actions on Libya was one of myriad worldwide telling our respective governments that ‘We the People’ demand action. And UN SG Ban Ki Moon addressed Security Council members with rare emotional force[2] , telling them to ‘get moving’. UNA-UK’s later statement[3] gives useful hyperlinks to action in the UN Human Rights Council, led by the League of Arab States[4] , a world’s first. Yes! We have traction at last!

Next week’s big battle will be waged both internationally and in the UK. Will traditional self-interest weaken the Security Council’s Resolution? How closely will Member States work within its mandate? This is no time for rhetoric, just action.

In the UK, DFID will publish separate reviews on Multilateral Aid[6] and Bilateral Aid. The former will map out how it will support UN and other Inter-governmental bodies. Less support for the UN’s Food & Agricultural Organisation[6] has been trailed already and expect lukewarm words for continued support for UNESCO[7] , the multi-role UN agency that DFID chose to adopt in 1997 and has never handled properly.

1 http://www.unawestminster.org.uk/start.html
2 http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=37628&Cr=Libya&Cr1=
3 http://www.una.org.uk/
4 http://www.zawya.com/story.cfm/sidZAWYA20110223042457/Libya-barred-from-League-talks
5 http://www.dfid.gov.uk/Documents/Multilateral-aid-review-TORS.pdf?epslanguage=en
6 http://www.fao.org/ 7 http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/

23 February 2011 - Statement on Libya

Campaigning for a strong, credible and effective UN
Statement on the situation in Libya
The Westminster Branch of the United Nations Association of the UK, a) noting the deterioration of the political situation in Libya and
b) shocked at the threatened moves against its people by the Libyan leader Mr Muammar Ghaddafi and
c) concerned for the safety of British citizens trapped in Libya,
d) welcomes
i) the call by Mr Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya‟s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations for the introduction of a selected no-fly zone and referral of Libya to the ICC,
ii) the intervention of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, Christof Heyns in which he states “By engaging in a massacre of its own people, the Government of Libya is guilty of committing gross violations of human rights which could amount to crimes against humanity” and
iii) the call by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for an international inquiry into Libyan violence and justice for victims and
iv) the call by the European Union to convene the Human Rights Council on 25 February now urges a) the UN Security Council to request the Arab League to
i) call an urgent meeting to agree how its members can use their influence on the Libyan leader to cease attacking Libya‟s citizens
ii) deploy their military forces to operate no-fly zones over Libya‟s ten principal military airports to prevent mercenaries and weapons from being shipped in.
iii) use their humanitarian assets to assist in the evacuation of all foreign nationals wishing to leave Libya. and

b) the British government to
i) inform the Libyan government that it aims to arrange immediately with friendly countries for the evacuation of UK nationals now corralled with other foreigners in „liberated‟ Eastern Libya but subject to opportunistic lootings, either by land, sea or air
ii) instruct UK banks and similar bodies to freeze all known assets of Mr Ghaddafi, his family and named leading Libyan business people
iii) request its partners in the European Union to take similar action.