Why, more than ever, UN Peacekeeping needs global support by Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations

New York, 29 May 2015 – Eighteen months ago, Bentiu, like most towns in South Sudan, was bustling with the restlessness of markets, people trading and children going to school.  UNMISS, the UN Mission in South Sudan, was busy supporting development and growth in the world’s youngest nation.

Ghana Navy on parade to mark UN PKD 2015

Ghana Navy on parade at an event in Accra to mark UN PKD 2015

Today, a visitor to the UN Mission’s base outside Bentiu in Unity State, would see a sea of blue and white tarpaulin tents and hastily-erected stalls. The base has become temporary home to some 63,000 civilians seeking protection from the cataclysm of violence that has gripped the new state of South Sudan since the outbreak of the political crisis in December 2013. The town of Bentiu itself remains deserted, its main dirt road lined with the grim evidence of an ongoing war in the absence of a final peace agreement between Government and Opposition forces.

The story is repeated across the country. Today, more than 130,000 are being protected by UN peacekeepers in seven bases, with civilians continuing to arrive at UN protection sites as they flee unimaginable suffering and grave human rights violations.

The reality is that our peacekeepers are often the only hope for a better life for the civilians they are mandated to serve. In other places where peacekeeping missions are deployed today, there is little peace to keep. In some of the harshest conditions on Earth, UN personnel must negotiate complex threats each day amidst political instability, with large, often terrified populations to protect. They work to provide security in these places, while pursuing a political solution to ongoing conflict.

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Press conference ahead of UN Peacekeepers Day held in Accra

Accra, 26 May 2015 – A press conference, to create awareness on the celebration of United Nations Peacekeepers’ Day was held at the Accra International Conference Centre. The theme

UN RC (middle) and Hon Hanna Tetteh (Right) at the Press Briefing

UN RC (middle) and Hon Hanna Tetteh (Right) at the Press Briefing

for the celebration globally is In Ghana’s theme for the national event is “UN70, Ghana in peacekeeping, Past, Present and Future”. Present at the press briefing were the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Christine Evans-Klock and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon. Hanna Serwaah Tetteh (MP).

Officials at the Prisons Service exhibition stand

Officials at the Prisons Service exhibition stand

Hon. Hanna Serwaah Tetteh provided an overview of the purpose of the commemoration event to pay homage to the valiant men and women whose efforts ensure global peace and development. On behalf of the people of Ghana and the government, she expressed condolences to all bereaved families of fallen heroes and heroines. Furthermore, she said the occasion is used to acknowledge those who have been maimed and injured, some permanently.  The Minister invited the public to the flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony to mark the UN Peacekeepers Day on Friday, 29 May 2015 at the forecourt of the State House.

A photo exhibition was launched. The Minister and the UN Resident Coordinator were guided through the gallery. The UN Information Centre, together with the Prisons Service, Ghana Armed Forces and the Police Service mounted some photos of peacekeeping operations around the world. Major Evelyn Asaomah who served as a parade commander during the Liberia war, in 2007 had a warm handshake with the Minister when her picture was seen among the photos that had been exhibited.

UNIC holds UN4U outreach in Ho

Ho, 27 May 2015 – UNIC Accra has held two events in Ho as part of its UN4U outreach activities in schools. The first event was patronised by over 500 students from Ola Girls Senior High and Mawuli Senior High school. The second event was held with students from Sonrise Senior High, a private high school in the Ho municipality.

Bossman Owusu of UNDP addressing the students at Ola Girls SHS

Bossman Owusu of UNDP addressing the students at Ola Girls SHS

The events were graced by representatives from UNDP and UNESCO. Students were introduced to the work of the UN, the organs and various agencies. They also asked questions about the UN, most of them wondering how its activities are funded.

The UN officials present encouraged the students to take their studies seriously, strive for excellence in all their endeavours and make their academics a priority. Students got to win UN branded souvenirs for actively participating in what appeared to be one of the most the interactive encounters with students by UN staff.

A cross section of students of Sonrise SHS

A cross section of students of Sonrise SHS

UN4U is an outreach program which brings UN officials to speak to students in their schools. The programme forms an important component of the mandate of UNIC Accra in terms of advocating and raising awareness on the activities and work of the United Nations. The UNIC team held the event as part of creating awareness for UN@70 celebrations.  The theme for the event was “From MDGs to SDGs: Education remains a priority”.  It was also organised to coincide with the World Education Forum 2015.

Four fallen peacekeepers from Ghana to be honoured at ceremony at UN Headquarters

Accra, 26 May, 2015 – Four fallen peacekeepers from Ghana who lost their lives in 2014 will be honoured posthumously with the Dag Hammarskjöld medal in New York at a solemn event to mark International Day of UN Peacekeepers. They are Corporal Augustine ACKAH,  Sgt George KORANTENG, and Lt. Moses ADATARA who served with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL); and Warrant Officer 1 Peter ATABIRE who was deployed with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

Peacekeepers Day 2015 logoThese fallen heroes were among some 126 peacekeepers – military, police and civilian – from 38 countries across the world who lost their lives in 2014 while serving with the United Nations as a result of hostile acts, accidents and disease.

In Ghana, a flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the forecourt of the State House in memory of the fallen Ghanaian peacekeepers and to honour the over 3,000 military and police personnel currently deployed to eleven peacekeeping operations in Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India-Pakistan, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan and Western Sahara.

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002, in tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.  The Assembly designated 29 May as the Day because it was the date in 1948 when the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), the world body’s first peacekeeping mission, began operations in Palestine.

The 2015 commemorative ceremonies will be held at a time when the demand for United Nations peacekeepers is at an all-time high. There are now more than 125,000 UN peacekeepers, including 91,000 military personnel, 13,000 police officers as well as 17,000 international civilian and national staff serving in 16 operations on four continents.

 

Families meet to discuss issues affecting families on International Day of Families

Accra, 15 May 2015 – International Family Day has been marked with a ‘family’ forum at Asanka locals a popular eatery in Accra. The event was orgainsed by UNFPA in partnership with Global Family Care, an NGO. It was on the theme; “Men in Charge? Gender Equality and Children’s Rights in Contemporary Families”.

Mr. Harley Kanayo Nworah

Mr. Harley Kanayo Nworah

The chairman of the event, Mr. Harley Kanayo Nworah, stressed on the need for Ghanaians and Africans to cherish their unique core value of communal family ties which makes every family member liable to groom children to be good citizens of the country. He expressed regret at the blind imitation of foreign cultures which in his opinion is corrupting the good values of Ghanaians and Africans in general adding that ‘a family that prays together stays together’.

One of the groups in a discussion session

One of the groups in a discussion session

Participants were divided into three groups to discuss each segment of the theme.  They concluded that on the issue of men being in charge and as ‘heads’ of the home, modern trends and unconventional families have made it impossible to claim that as an absolute truth. All present agreed that financial constraints and lack of access to information among other things have defeated the long standing caveat that men are in charge.

On the issue of gender equality, the group in charge surmised that there is still a long way to go in achieving that, adding that the process has been slowed by our norms and culture as a people. On Children’s Rights, it was agreed that parents need to be united in disciplining the children and children should not be denied the right to food, clothing and shelter by their parents or anyone for that matter.

An elderly making a submission

An elderly making a submission

The aged among the participants stressed on the need for peace and respect in the home for the sake of the children and encouraged all parents to protect their children and instil in them their cultural values.

Also present at the event were the UNFPA representative, Babatunde Ahonsi and the Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Hon. Dela Sowah.

UN Committee to review Ghana’s record on children’s rights

Geneva, May 13, 2015 – Ghana’s record on children’s rights will be reviewed by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on Wednesday 20 May and Thursday 21 May in sessions that will be webcast live.

Ghana is one of the 195 states that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and so is required to undergo regular examinations of its record by the Committee of 18 independent experts.

The discussions between the CRC and the delegation from the Ghanaian Government will take place at Palais Wilson in Geneva at the following times:
20 May: 15:00-18:00 (13:00-16:00 in Ghana)
21 May: 10:00-13:00 (08:00 – 11:00)
The sessions will be webcast at http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/.

Among the possible issues to be discussed: measures to eliminate discrimination against vulnerable children, particularly children with disabilities; steps to increase birth registration; measures to combat spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce poverty; legislation and awareness-raising to eradicate harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, early marriage and ritual servitude (Trokosi); measures to eradicate worst forms of child labour.

The full list of issues and Ghana’s submitted written report can be found here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=829&Lang=en . The CRC’s concluding observations on Ghana and the other countries being reviewed – Eritrea, Mexico, Honduras, Ethiopia, Netherlands, Laos and Israel – will be published on this page on 10 June.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell (+41 (0) 22 917 9466/ ethrossell@ohchr.org

 

Ghana Marks World Press Freedom Day 2015

Accra, May 5, 2015 – A symposium and flag raising ceremony has been held to mark World Press Freedom Day. The event was chaired by Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere, chairman of the National Media Commission. Also in attendance were the Minister for Communication, the president, executives and members of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Director General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation and representatives from UNIC and UNESCO.

Minister for Communication

Minister for Communication

The Communications Minister, Hon. Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, expressed concern over the activities of citizen journalists who publish unconfirmed reports on social media and reputable media houses who carry these unverified stories. He assured the gathering that cyber activities will be monitored to ensure that rights and responsibilities are respected in Ghana’s cyber space.

Ms. Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, Chairperson of Editors Forum, Ghana bemoaned the dwindling circulation of print media in the wake of social media. She remarked that the low patronage is not to be blamed on the cost of newspapers.  Instead poor content could dissuade readers from buying newspapers, she noted.  She therefore urged editors to provide patrons their monies’ worth.

Hoisting of flags

Hoisting of flags

The UN Secretary-General’s message to mark the day was presented by the National Information Officer of UNIC, Ms Cynthia Prah on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Christine Evans-Klock. Carl Ampah of UNESCO presented a joint message of the UN Secretary-General, UNESCO Director General and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The program was crowned with a ceremonial flag-raising ceremony at which time the flag of Ghana, GJA and the UN were hoisted.

Ghana launches a National Employment Policy

Accra, April 23, 2015 – A two-day job summit dubbed ‘inclusive growth through creation

HE President Mahama launching the Policy

HE President Mahama launching the Policy

of productive employment and decent work’ has been held in Accra. The goal of the summit is to adopt a sustainable employment strategy for the nation that will guarantee employability of the youth. In attendance were representatives of the Trade Union Congress, Ghana Employers Association, representatives of the diplomatic community and Government Ministers.  The event was attended by the Director General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Mr. Guy Ryder, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Hon.

Mr. guy Ryder

Mr. Guy Ryder

Harruna Iddrisu and the President of Ghana, H.E John Dramani Mahama.

In an effort to address the alarming spate of graduate unemployment in the country, Ghana, for the first time, through a National Employment Policy, proposes an all-inclusive strategy for all sectors with the private sector leading the drive to provide decent work for the Ghanaian youth. The policy is expected “…to create gainful and decent employment opportunities for the growing labour force to

The President of Ghana, H.E. John Dramani Mahama (middle) and ILO Director General, Guy Ryder (1st left) with officials after the launch of the National Employment Policy in Accra

The President of Ghana, H.E. John Dramani Mahama (middle) and ILO Director General, Guy Ryder (1st left) with officials after the launch of the National Employment Policy in Accra

improve their living conditions and contribute to economic growth and national development within the framework of equity, fairness, security and dignity”.  The policy was launched at the summit by President Mahama. In his address, the President stressed on the need for home-grown solutions to create a skilled workforce equipped to compete globally, adding that as a nation inching towards the goal of becoming more industrialized, Ghana requires a workforce capable of providing an efficient public transport system, affordable and safe housing, reliable water and energy supply as well as maintain our roads and railways. He quipped that the social and economic costs of unemployment are far more devastating which “is why we are refocusing our educational policy to centre on skills acquisition”.

The Director General of ILO, Guy Ryder congratulated Ghana on the launch adding that the ILO throws its weight behind the policy and is determined to support the nation implement this policy. Stressing the need for an action plan for the policy, Mr. Ryder noted that “…it is not so much of what is said today but what is done tomorrow…” that matters.  He lauded the President’s agenda for national development which leans heavily on job creation, adding that the long-term growth of the economy depends largely on the productivity of the labour force.

UNIC Accra sensitizes the public on the 13th UN Crime Congress and crime prevention at a bus terminal

Accra, April 2, 2015 – Tema Station is one of the busiest lorry terminals in the country connecting travelers to about 42 major locations across the country. In other words, boarding a vehicle from the Tema Station, one can get to any central location across the country. The Station is always crowded and bristling with trading activities. It is for this reason that the United Nations Information Centre, Accra (UNIC Accra) and partners chose Tema Station as the location for the awareness creation event on the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

Ms Prah briefing the audience

Ms Prah briefing the audience

Present at the event were representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service and members of the Citizens Movement against Corruption. Also present were some members of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU). They all took turns to make brief remarks on crime prevention. The Public Relations Officer of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service,

Members of Citizens Movement against Corruption ready to distribute some stickers

Members of Citizens Movement against Corruption ready to distribute some stickers

ASP Joseph Darkwah reiterated the need for public participation in the fight against criminal activities in the country. He said “fighting crime is a shared responsibility” and asked the public to share information with the security service when the need arises.

A driver pasting a sticker in his vehicle

A driver posting a sticker in his vehicle

In her opening remarks, the National information Officer of UNIC Accra, Ms Cynthia Prah provided a brief overview on the 13th UN Crime Congress citing human trafficking, corruption, cybercrime and migrant smuggling as some of the areas to be discussed at the Congress, which is scheduled to take place in Doha, Qatar from April 12 – 19, 2015.  She appealed to the media to continue with the sensitization exercise by highlighting the relationship between crime and development in their reportage.

A CID official pasting a sticker on a vehicle

A CID official pasting a sticker on a vehicle

Following the briefing ceremony, UNIC Accra staff led partners and the media personnel present to distribute beautifully designed car stickers to the drivers of Tema Station. The stickers have inscriptions such as “Corruption is a Crime”, “Crime Deepens Inequality”, “Crime Finances Terrorism” and “Crime Increases Hunger”.

For more information on the 13th UN Congress on Crime and Criminal Justice, visit http://www.un.org/en/events/crimecongress2015/

Many Languages, One World Essay contest- DEADLINE APRIL 15

Accra, 31 March 2015 – Organized by ELS Educational Services, Inc., and the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), Many Languages, One World was created to promote multilingualism and the continued study of the six official languages of the United Nations, and to bring global-minded young scholars from all over the world together to engage in dialogue about global issues and initiatives.

UN 70

UN 70

Write an essay (2,000 words or less) discussing the post-2015 global development agenda, in the context of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, and the definition of new goals reflecting the imperative of global sustainable development that recognizes, and is enriched by, cultural and linguistic diversity.

You must be a full-time university student and must be 18 years of age or older by April 15, 2015. Your participation must be sponsored by a faculty member or authorized representative at the university you are currently attending. Read the contest flyer carefully for details on the contest rules and more.